Update Public on Bond Projects
I write this letter in response to the excellent editorial in the last Sunday edition of the News-Register entitled “Don’t Defund the Public Library.” The editorial essentially asked the question as to how the school bond projects are in such a state of financial mismanagement that library funding has to be cut by over $350,000 to prop up $72 million worth of projects. The editorial appropriately ponders what has Ohio County Schools done to analyze its own finances when it has an annual operating budget of over $67 million, when the voters approved over $40 million in bonds, and when the School Building Authority has awarded over $27 million in funds.
A bigger question is why won’t Ohio County Schools open its books and share with the public the actual facts of the mismanagement of these funds. What role has the McKinley firm played in this? Why won’t the McKinley firm ever update the bond project website? What role has OCS administration played in this? We know that administrators couldn’t accurately count science rooms. We know that administrators planned a community field without restrooms. What other mistakes have been made? What projects have been abandoned? What projects have been scaled back?
Ohio County Schools had no problem sharing its hopes and dreams when it asked voters to approve a tax increase to fund projects at every single school. There were multiple bond forums with pretty displays and costs projections and smiling administrators answering every question. Where is the similar transparency now? It is sorely missing.
It is beyond time for Ohio County Schools to hold new bond forums to update the public on these projects and disclose any setbacks, problems and cost overruns. Those same pretty display boards need an update with reality.
Here are the list of titles in the central office for Ohio County Schools: Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, Technology Coordinator, Assistant Technology Coordinator, Business Manager, two Innovation Coaches, Operations Director, Transportation Director, Human Resource Director, Accounts Payable Manager, Child Nutrition Director, Payroll Manager, Benefits Coordinator, Student Services Director, Attendance Director, Technology Coordinator, Federal Programs Director, Innovation Director, Alternative Education Coordinator, Special Education Director, Communications Coordinator, and no less than 12 secretaries.
As the student population declines, the number of administrators has grown. What you don’t see is anyone with any experience with construction projects and with any clue that the recommendations of the McKinley firm are competent. The situation was so dire that the Board of Education sought to hire an outside firm to conduct a review of the projects.
The current board of education members inherited a problem not of their making. That said, the public should be provided more information. It has been two years since the voters decided to increase their taxes to improve the schools. We deserve the same level of candor now as we seemed to have received when the school system wanted our vote.