Friday, March 14, 2014

Questions for the Fox C-6 School Board!

What questions do you have for our school board?

The community needs to be able to submit their questions to a Suggestion Box anonymously so Superintendent Critchlow can't threaten them with Cease and Desist letters or email them and tell them that they must first call the Assistant Superintendent Andy Arbeitman with their questions prior to submitting them to the school board during Public Comments or the school board will not respond with anything other than a "Thank you!". Mr. Arbeitman stated in his email that the district was trying to be "proactive rather than reactive". It sounds more like the district is being discriminatory towards individuals who ask the school board direct questions.

I've been asking the Fox C-6 school board questions for nearly 5 years and have rarely if ever received a response from our school board. It doesn't appear that our school board is following board policy in this area.

I thought it would be convenient to post some of the questions I have asked and have never had answered. I've also thought of some new questions that our school board needs to answer for the community. After all, our school board members are elected by the community to represent us and provide oversight of our school district.

How do we know they are doing their job if they don't respond to questions?

I think that a large part of the problem is that the district attorney has warned the school board about responding to the public. If the district attorney doesn't want the school board speaking with the public, shouldn't that throw up some Red Flags for the community?

I've posted a few questions here for the school board below. Hopefully they will answer them. If you get the chance, you may want to pose some of these questions to our school board members yourself since my questions don't tend to get answered. Maybe you'll get a different response then I get. Who knows?

Public Comments Questions
  • Should the school board president respond to questions that can only be answered by the school board or should the responses come from Superintendent Critchlow or Assistant Superintendent Andy Arbeitman?
  • Should the school board be informed or copied on responses to Public Comments from the school district?
    (Board member Cheryl Herman said that she would like to know when the district responds at the November 5th board workshop.)
  • Should the school board be informed when Superintendent Critchlow sends out Cease and Desist letters to citizens in the community?
  • Should school district taxpayers be footing the bill for Cease and Desist letters sent by Superintendent Critchlow simply because she wanted the criticism to stop?
  • Why won't the school board respond to the question about why the district won't audio or video recording school board meetings?
    (I've been asking this question for several years without a response.)
  • Has anyone on the school board looked into the concerns of the shortage of books that I brought to their attention several times over the past couple of years?

    Superintendent Critchlow has gone on record on News Channel 5 stating that the district doesn't have a shortage of books. However teachers, parents and students know that there aren't enough books for all of the students. Even Principal Kristen Pelster emailed me a response when she was still principal stating that the students aren't given books to take home because there aren't enough for all of the students.
  • Why won't the school board post the school district budget on the district website? Superintendent Critchlow informed me that I'm the only person requesting the data and therefore the data won't be published on the district website. Her reason to not post the data doesn't give the community the impression that she believes in transparency.
  • How does the school board approve Bill Payments each month if they don't know what the Bill Payments are paying for since the Bill Payments report no longer has payment descriptions for each payment?
  • How does the school board verify that the payments for credit card bills are valid if the school board isn't provided credit card statements in the board packets with the Bill Payments report?
  • Why did it take the school district and the school board 3 years to update and revise our school board policies?Fox has the 4th Highest Superintendent Salary in the state and the 2nd Highest Average Administrator Salary in the state. A person would expect them to be quite responsive to getting changes made and updated.
  • Does the school board know how much has been spent in legal fees over the last 6 years as the district has dealt with the ongoing compliance issues with the USDA and the U.S. Department of Education?
  • How can the school district be paying bills on the Visa credit card that are in the $70,000 and $80,000 range when the total number of credit card holders and their credit limits total less than $40,000?
  • Do school board members ever review the district website to see what information or misinformation is on the district website?
  • Why hasn't the school board questioned Superintendent Critchlow on her annual report for the last several years that shows that Fox has 270 Administrators Per Student since this is clearly incorrect information?
Bullying Questions
  • Is the school board aware of the comments made by a person claiming to be an employee of the district that calls himself TROOP?
  • Many of TROOP's comments were derogatory and libelous in nature and were directed at individuals who spoke at school board meetings. Has the school board read any of TROOP's comments hat were posted online?
  • Should any employee of the Fox C-6 school district be making comments such as those made by TROOP?
  • Since the district has a board policy regarding bullying, does TROOP's behavior fall under this policy which could lead to his termination?
  • Does the school board consider threatening people for speaking at school board meetings to be a serious issue concern for the community? 
  • Is it considered bullying or discrimination when a single person is told that they will have to contact school administrators prior to asking the school board questions during Public Comments or their questions will not be answered with anything other than a Thank You?
  • Is the school board and TROOP aware of the fact Fox C-6 has adopted a commitment to the Character Education program?
  • Was the school board aware of the fact that several teachers were questioned by their supervisors after they attended a school board meeting and asked why they had attended the meeting?
Superintendent Issue Questions
  • Why doesn't Superintendent Critchlow report the Percentage of Graduates taking the ACT test on her annual report to the school board each year?
    According to the latest revision of the school board policies, it states that the superintendent is required to report to everyone in the district the ACT Scores AND the Percentage of Graduates taking the ACT. Superintendent has neglected to include the Percentage of Graduates taking the ACT off of her annual report at the board meeting for years. Why is that?

    The current Percentage of Graduates taking the ACT at Fox is only 56%. The state average is reported at 74% on Missouri DESE's Top 10 by 20 Dashboard. Fox is currently ranked in the bottom 25% of the state for the Percentage of Students taking the ACT. Why is that?

    Starting next year the state is requiring ALL 11th graders to take the ACT test as part of the state's assessment. The state will be paying for each student to take the ACT test one time. How does the school board feel that this new requirement will affect the district's Composite Score?
  • Why doesn't the school board require the school district to post the district budget on the school district website to make it available to the public?

    Superintendent Critchlow has informed me that since only 1 person is requesting the information that it won't be posted on the district website. Does this seem like a valid response?
  • Why won't the school board require descriptions to be included on the Bill Payments Report like they were in previous years?

    Superintendent Critchlow informed me that only 1 person is requesting this information so the reports won't be changed. She also said that anyone can call the Central Office if they have questions about any of the Bill Payments. Is there a reason that descriptions aren't included with Bill Payments anymore? Should everyone be required to call the Central Office to get those types of questions answered?

School Board Policy Questions
  • Should the school board be following school district policies?
  • Has any of our school board members read Fox's school board Policies and Regulations in their entirety? 
  • Did anyone on the school board notice that our most recent update of the school board policies still has a point of contact that retired from the district in 2008?
  • Has the school board read the policy on Financial Management that requires that Bill Payment lists "will be supported by invoices, approved purchase orders, properly submitted vouchers, or in accordance with salaries and salary schedules approved by the board."?
  • Why isn't a Termination clause included in Superintendent Critchlow's contract if school board policy states that it should be?
  • Does the school board know why the school district's policies deny parents the right to audio record IEP or Section 504 Meetings?
  • Shouldn't the revised school board Policy 1310 and Regulation 1310 and their associated forms now include the USDA Office for Civil Rights as well since they are now included on the lunch menus?
Salary Questions
  • Why has the school board approved increasing Superintendent Critchlow's salary more than 80% since she was hired as the district's superintendent in 2005?
  • Why are we paying Superintendent Critchlow $256,131 for the 2013-2014 school year? How does the school board justify her salary?
  • Why do the Administrator Salaries listed in the March 2013 school board meeting packet have only "X"'s listed for their salaries?
  • How did the school board approve the 2013-2016 Administrator Salaries if the report from the March 2013 school board packet didn't list their salaries?
  • How is the base salary for administrators computed now? I asked if the information was available on the district website at the February 2014 school board meeting but was told that since it wasn't listed as a topic on my Public Comments form that I would have to contact Mr. Arbeitman to obtain the information.The school district administrator salary schedule used to be based on the highest school teacher salary in the school district. When the school teachers got a raise or their pay increased each year according to the schedule, the administrator salary automatically increased as well.
    Why isn't the school district's administrator salary schedule posted on the district website?
Hiring Questions
  • Several of the current school board members were on the school board in 2009 when Superintendent Critchlow's husband was promoted to the Director of the Bridges program after only working for the district for 2 months. He did not have a Masters Degree in Education Administration and he had not taken the School Leaders Licensure Assessment test. He did not obtain his Initial Professional Teacher's Certificate until January 2011 per Missouri DESE records. Why did the school board approve his promotion if school board policy states that the school board is "To support the superintendent's efforts to appoint the most qualified persons as employees of the District."?

    Mr. Critchlow was certainly not the most qualified person in the school district for the position considering he only had a provisional teaching certification and did not take the Praxis tests until 2010. His promotion at that time certainly didn't follow district policy.
  • Why did the school board approve the hiring of school board president at the time Linda Nash's daughter in law if she did not meet the school board policy requirement that states that school board is "To support the superintendent's efforts to appoint the most qualified persons as employees of the District."?
General Questions
  • Is the school board familiar with the law about Making False Statements (USC Title 18 Section 1001)?
  • Was the school board aware of the fact that the school buses that leave early from Lone Dell Elementary for special education students that are documented as leaving at 3PM actually leave between 5 to 20 minutes earlier than documented?
  • Is the school board aware of the fact that the district began charging me to scan board meeting packets after Superintendent Critchlow sent me a Cease and Desist letter even though those documents had already been scanned for the board?
    It gives the appearance that if a government entity does not want the public to have information they will start charging to obtain the information.
  • Is the school board aware that the district informed me that the district doesn't get detailed billing from the district's law firm?

School District Website Questions
  • Why won't the school board video or audio record public school board meetings and post them on the district website like they do in other school districts?
  • Do school board members review the district website to see what is posted and ensure that information is accurate?
  • Should the school board require the district to review our school district website and correct mistakes?
  • Should the school board require our school district to correct information published on the district website if it is not accurate?

    The About Us page on the school district website states that our school district "covers an approximate area of 75-100 square miles" instead of square mileage documented by the United States Census Bureau which is 74.284 square miles:

  • Is it OK with everyone that the District website lists the Curriculum Objects or Grade Level Expectations as shown below? 
    3rd Grade is an easy year since they don't have any Grade Level Expectations.

    You can actually download the 3rd Grade Level Expectations document if you make an educated guess as to what the name of the file is for 3rd grade based on the other file names and type it into the Address Bar in your web browser. It's possible that the district purposefully created the web page this way in order to help people improve their creative problem solving skills.

    Fox C-6 Curriculum Objectives

    Grade Level Expectations
    Grade K         Grade 4         Grade 8         Grade 12
    Grade 1         Grade 5         Grade 9
    Grade 2         Grade 6         Grade 10
    Grade 7         Grade 11 

In Summary
I'm sure that there are many more questions that the Fox C-6 community has for our school board that they would like to ask. However, people that have asked our school board questions usually don't get a response based upon feedback that I have received from individuals in our district over the years .

Why does Fox have a school board if they aren't going to respond to the public?