Sunday, March 31, 2013

Please Vote April 2nd and Make A Positive Change In Our District

You have a great opportunity on Tuesday April 2, 2013 to make a POSITIVE change in the Fox C-6 School District by casting your vote and ELECTING TWO NEW SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS to the Fox C-6 School Board.

Please VOTE for

Your Vote WILL Make a Difference!!

I have spoken with all of the candidates that have been at public meetings and I am putting my support behind Mark Jones and Steve Holloway. They are both graduates of Fox Senior High School. They both have successful careers and are very dedicated individuals. Mark Jones graduated in 1985. Steve Holloway graduated in 1990. They both have children attending our school district and want to see our school district improve its reputation and how it involves and respects our community.  They will be working to increase Transparency and Accountability in our school district which is something that our district has been severely lacking.

Mark Jones doesn't have any family members working for the school district. Steve Holloway's wife is a teacher at Antonia Elementary. I have met and spoken with her in person and I was very impressed by her. I have heard a lot of great things about her as a teacher and I just learned today that a retired Fox elementary school teacher I know had her in his class when he was teaching.

Our district has been like a family for years. However, that family oriented emphasis has been taken too  far recently and it has brought unwelcome attention to our school district. Our current board members that are up for re-election stand behind their recent hiring decisions. These same incumbent board members voted in 2006 to promote another board president's wife to the position of district head nurse despite the fact that there were at least 9 or 10 nurses with more years of experience than her in the district at that time. One of those other nurses had nearly 3 times the number of years of experience in the district. The board also voted to increase her salary by 75% by changing her contract from 9 months to an 11 or 12 month contract. The recent hiring of a board president's relative is not new. But, the most recent decision really stood out due to the fact that board president Linda Nash's daughter-in-law did not have the college degree or certification that the district was looking for in their job post. Those in the community that have seen the recent media attention our school district received have been telling me that they want to see a change in our school board as well. In order to make that change, I am asking that you vote for Mark Jones and Steve Holloway

Questions For The Community
ANY VOTE for an incumbent school board member this year would show that you are willing to continue to put up with a school board that is unresponsive and shows very little respect for the community they were elected to serve. Our school board members are elected to be our voice in the school district.

Let me ask you some questions to see if you believe that our school board has been representing us as you elected them to do:
  • Would you have asked our school board members to approve spending more than $3 million dollars to install artificial turf to upgrade our athletic fields to multi-purpose fields if they had asked you?

    Pete Nicholas stated on his campaign Facebook page that, "I presented the idea of upgrading our fields from grass to turf, to our School Board of Education. After weighing in the pros and cons, the motion was passed." Pete also stated that, "what sold me in the end, was the deal to get 2 turf fields for the price of 1. Plus, two turf baseball/softball fields and the icing on the cake was a digital electronic sign for FHS." So, Pete “promoted” the idea to the Board. Then the Board approved his idea and decided to spend over $3 million dollars on the new fields. Do you believe that we got 2 fields for the price of 1? Pete, your voice is heard loud and clear! Plus, the decision to get the new digital electronic sign decision was not yet decided as of the March 2013 BOE meeting.)

  • Would you have asked your board members to replace the bleachers at Fox High School for $320,000 and sell the old bleachers to another school district that could use them for $30,000 despite the fact that the public was told that the old bleachers were old, damaged and needed to be replaced?

    It was announced at the March 2013 BOE meeting that the district didn't realize that the new bleachers wouldn't be able to store any equipment underneath them like the old ones due to their design until after they were installed. They are now erecting a new building for $52,000 to store the equipment in that used to be stored under the bleachers.)

  • Would you have asked the school board to hire the daughter-in-law of our current school board president Linda Nash as the Food Nutrition Services Director with her high school diploma and experience working at McDonalds if our school board had asked for your opinion?

  • Would you have voted to post the board meeting packets on the district website to be more transparent to the community and not discuss the decision during the open meeting nor document the decision in the board meeting minutes?

  • Would you have voted to NOT post the Bill Payments on the district website with the board packets that the board members receive due to privacy concerns - not for the employees, but for the students?

I believe that the majority of parents and patrons in our community wouldn't have asked our school board members to speaking for us as they have. That is why as a community, you need to make a change to our school board by casting your vote on April 2nd in the Fox C-6 School Board election and MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!

How Our Incumbents Respond To The Community
Our incumbent board members state that they listen to the community and that they are doing this for the kids. However, from my experience, they only listen and respond if you are praising them for doing a great job. Asking your board members to do simple things like correct the school calendar, or correct a school board policy they adopted that didn't meet state law, or asking them to correct school board policies for typographical and grammatical errors and remove points of contacts who retired from the district 4 years ago should not cause them to lash out at you and tell you that all you do is complain. That is NOT how I expect school board members to respond. But, that has been my experience.

Pete Nicholas is running for re-election had the following quote on his campaign Facebook page that tells me that he is out of touch with reality as to how some of our school district administrators feel about "anyone" attending board meetings and addressing their concerns to the board. Here is what Pete Nicholas says on his Facebook page:
Board meetings are openly displayed on the Fox School District website. Anyone can attend the meeting and address their concerns to the board. Attendance of school board meetings is something that I will continue to encourage if I'm re-elected to the school board.
There are several problems with his statements here. One being that Pete says that "Anyone can attend the meeting and address their concerns to the board." I have attended many board meetings and spoken during Public Comment at most of those meetings and addressed my concerns. However, I NEVER received a response from the school board regarding my concerns I presented to the board. What good does it do to address your concerns if your school board does not respond? Also, my concerns weren't documented in the board meeting minutes with anything more than a mention of the fact that I spoke and possibly the topics that I commented on. The meeting minutes said nothing as to WHAT my comments were regarding those topics. As proof that our board members help to cover up those concerns, they will approve the vaguely written minutes at the next month's meeting. That is how our district censors the concerns of the community. Pete's actions speak louder than words about transparency and caring what the community has to say.

Additionally, I have been ridiculed and threatened by individuals online for attending and speaking at board meetings as have others in our school district. Teachers that attended the January 2013 school board meeting were called into the principal's office over the next couple of days after the board meeting and questioned as to why they attended the meeting. Does this seem as if "Anyone can attend the meeting"?

On May 17, 2011, I wrote an email to then school board president Ruth Ann Newman to which she never responded regarding the December 2010 and April 2011 board meetings I attended and spoke at. My email resulted in a very unprofessional response from Superintendent Dianne Brown at the time. Please note that our Superintendent addressed my concerns regarding the poorly documented board meeting minutes. My email also addressed an incident that occurred at the April 2011 board meeting with Mr. Jamie Critchlow who is now our Superintendent's husband. Mr. Critchlow approached me at that meeting and introduced himself. He then proceeded to inform me that he did not appreciate the fact that I went and spoke to the school board regarding his hiring and that if I had any questions, that I should contact him directly. It appears to me that Pete Nicholas is out of touch with reality as to how encouraging he has been with regard to anyone attending board meetings and addressing their concerns to the board.

My email to Ruth Ann Newman and our Superintendent's response can be found in my article published on January 5, 2013 titled:
Emailing Fox C-6 School Board President Results in Superintendent Response

You should not get a "Cease and Desist" letter if you don't vote for our incumbent board members this Tuesday! Hopefully our Superintendent won't be spending anymore taxpayer dollars in the future on "Cease and Desist" letters just because she wants critics to stop talking.
On April 2nd, please tell our Board of Education and our central office administrators that you are ready for change by VOTING IN TWO NEW BOARD MEMBERS!

  • Let them know that you want people on the school board that you can trust.
  • Let them know that you want school board members who read and follow our school board policies and obey state and federal laws.
  • Let them know that you want a school board that will respond to your questions and concerns.
  • Let them know that you want a school board that will question our Superintendent and her recommendations.
  • Let them know that the school board should demonstrate their Commitment to the Character Education Program as they have adopted in our school board policies.
Accountability and Transparency is important in Open Government and without it, there is a good chance that things are being done that you would not approve of.

So, what does this all mean to you, the parents and patrons of the Fox C-6 School District?

If you really care about the future of our school district and want to improve your child's educational experience and make a positive change in our school district, please vote for Mark Jones and Steve Holloway on Tuesday April 2, 2013!!

Thank you!!

Rich Simpson