Fox Board: How Are They Doing?

25 Apr

At the April 21 Fox C-6 school board meeting, board member Dan Kroupa gave a statement in which he extolled himself and the board over the job that they are doing. He said the board and the district are “moving forward very well.” He started off by saying “this isn’t a response to Mr. [Rich] Simpson” (who made some criticisms during the public comment period), but it kinda was. You can listen to Kroupa’s remarks here. These are the items that Kroupa boasted about, with my responses:

  • The hiring of CFO John Brazeal, incoming superintendent Jim Wipke, and some other administrators. He demanded that the board get credit for these hires. He said “I don’t like thumping my own drum,” but he kinda does.
    • Brazeal has done well, but the other hires have yet to start working. It is premature to boast about employees before we see how they perform, Wipke included. Many are unsettled by Wipke’s acquiescence in the hires of Dan Baker and Todd Scott as principals. Note also that the previous CFO, Mark McCutchen, was clearly crooked. He should have been gotten rid of long before he bailed out in May 2014. Kroupa said nothing about the hires of Baker and Scott in his remarks.
  • Brazeal changed investment banks and bond counsel.
  • District changed legal counsel.
    • This was well overdue. The law firm should have been fired when they sent cease and desist letters to critics of the district in February 2013 at the behest of Dianne Critchlow. This happened two months before Kroupa was elected to the board.. Changing legal counsel should have been the first thing he tried to do upon taking office.
  • Roofs are being repaired. Kroupa admits the district has been negligent on this for years. Again, why so late?
  • District buying 60 buses.
  • New summer school program.
    • In the March 12 Leader, acting superintendent Tim Crutchley said that the old summer school “had basically been glorified babysitting.” Why did it take so long to remedy that? And who was held accountable?
  • District is “reaping the rewards” of the VSIP program. “We are replacing $80,000 teachers with $40,000 teachers.”
    • Which of course means less-experienced instructors. Also, it was this board that was duped into making the change to the VSIP (early retirement buyout program) that got rid of the 10-year service requirement and allowed Critchlow crony Andy Arbeitman to waltz away with a payment after working at Fox for less than two years. Kroupa alone voted against the two-year renewal of the VSIP (at which time the program would end) in February 2014. I don’t know his reasons for voting no. While it was not VSIP, Kroupa did not mention the $20,000 payout to former food service director (and nepotism hire) Kelly Nash.

Kroupa ended his report with what I would call a shot at Rich Simpson:

“Listening to Mr. Simpson you’d think that we’re all up here and worthless and I honest to God don’t think we are. I think that we are doing a good job. We’ve gone through some horrible circumstances in the past year and I think we’ve done a good job and I’m proud of us and I’m finished.”

First of all, the board should, but never to my knowledge has, thanked Simpson for bringing down the Critchlow regime and apologized for how he was treated. One of Critchlow’s characteristics was a hatred of negative feedback, as demonstrated by the cease and desist letters and, of course, the comments on the Topix web site. Here, Kroupa shows that this resistance to feedback continues in some form.

Finally, Kroupa should note that, if the board was really doing a good job, he wouldn’t have to keep saying so. People would see it for themselves. But I don’t think they do. I gotta say, though, that the results of the April 7 board election don’t give me much hope that the voters really want change.

Also at the meeting, John Laughlin, board member since 2011, was re-elected as president of the board.

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