its story today on the district's finances.
Since candidates Debbie Fort and Jeff Koch brought up the finances during the Monday night candidate forum (which the Globe barred the public from attending), the Globe felt it incumbent to explain away the criticism.
Most of the article offers Superintendent C. J. Huff's explanation about how all of the spending was part of a master plan. Of course, Huff blames everything on the tornado and building construction and says everything will be all right when FEMA kicks in and the district can start rebuilding its reserves.
While there have certainly been some questionable decisions when it comes to the building process, the out-of-control spending that has put the district in financial trouble has other root causes, which are barely touched upon in the Globe article.
In fact, the Globe article really only has one paragraph that touches on the district spending problems and that is toward the end. The number of upper-level administrators is mentioned in one sentence while the Globe offered one paragraph after another to C. J. Huff to explain finances, which as he told us during the Board of Education meeting Tuesday, is too complicated for us to understand.
Apparently, it was either too tough for Globe reporter Emily Younker to understand or the Globe has decided once again to play the kingmaker role in Joplin politics.
A little research, apparently something Globe reporters don't have to do when they have the quotes they already want, would have shown that the Central Administration office has 51 people listed with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in 2014, compared to 17 in 2008 when C. J. Huff, Jeff Flowers, and Randy Steele arrived.
Those 51 do not even include the non-certificated, undoubtedly highly paid people like chief operating officer Tina Smith, and director of the buildings project Mike Johnson, two highly paid employees who are not listed with the state since they are not educators.
The number also does not include the so-called teaching and learning and 21st Century coaches whose pay originally came from grants, which have long since expired, so their pay has now either been absorbed into the general budget or has somehow been covered by Title I funds.
Nor was there any mention of the nearly $100,000 that was spent for the thank-you tour C. J. Huff has taken across the United States, money which Jeff Flowers told the Joplin Globe had been approved by the Board of Education.
Or how about the cost of Career Pathways directors for Joplin High School? Five were hired as directors for each of the five pathways, while a sixth was hired as the overall director. Four of the six have no background in education.
How about the pay of C. J. Huff? While Joplin teacher pay ranked at 164th in the state in 2013, Huff's pay has been hiked to where it is 32nd in the state (and the teachers are not being asked to supplement their income with $8,000 speeches).
No mention is made of the district's Race to the Top application, which asked for approximately $10 million in additions. The application was soundly rejected, with a top criticism being the district's lack of transparency. Despite that rejection, C. J. Huff and the Board of Education found room in the budget for nearly everything that it wanted, with almost nothing being for the classroom.
The Race to the Top application also included a notation that the district would absorb the cost of all of the extra personnel called for in the request, but could not pay for another part of it- money for teachers to stay before and after school to work with children. For that, the application, which was sent to the U. S. Department of Education less than six months after district patrons, by a 45-vote margin, approved the largest bond issue in school history, the district would ask voters for a tax levy increase.
To this day, there have only been two places where you could read about C. J. Huff and the Joplin R-8 Board of Education's plan to soak the taxpayers- the U. S. Department of Education website and the Turner Report.
Huff and the board never saw fit to tell the public about their plan (Complete plan at this link)
In fact, as I noted in an earlier Turner Report, they asked Joplin's teacher organizations, MNEA and MSTA, to approve the application, which was more than 100 pages, but only let them see one page, the page on which they were supposed to sign their names, saying they had read the entire application and approved it. (The Globe has never written about the Race to the Top application.)
And Jeff Flowers and C. J. Huff have the nerve to talk about how transparent they are.
From the look of the story in today's Joplin Globe and the decision to keep the public away from the forum, the Globe would like for Flowers and Huff to continue their unique form of transparency well into the future.
Consider the conclusion of today's Globe story. It has been noted that the district's strategic plan calls for the reserve level to drop to eight percent before things start getting better.
The Globe feels the need to tell us that eight percent is not that bad. A note is added- "Missouri law identifies a school district as experiencing 'financial distress' if its reserves dip below three percent."
Now thanks to the Globe and C. J. Huff, we know that eight percent is perfectly reasonable.
That appears to be the only information that Emily Younker bothered to look up.