Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Llamas and puff pieces aplenty, but no mention of "might-as-well" spending in Globe

The morning after the Joplin R-8 Board of Education approved a resolution to go into long-term debt to pay off $8 million,( or in the words of CFO Paul Barr, "eight million dollars or whatever the amount is") in "might as well" spending on a 5-1 vote, the top story on page one of the Joplin Globe was about the school district.

The Neosho School District.

The local board of education has to pursue long-term financing because it felt the new school could not do without a track, artificial turf and lighting for all fields and four extra tennis courts and the lead story in the area's newspaper of record is that the Neosho R-5 School District is hiring a company to manage its substitute teachers?

Most of page one is covered by another of reporter Andra Bryan Stefanoni's latest puff piece on a summer camp in the Neosho area.

At the bottom of the page, you can find Debby Woodin's offbeat news item on a loose llama being lassoed in Diamond.

Don't worry, though. The Joplin R-8 Board of Education was not totally left off the Globe's page one. The board story starts on page one with the headline "Board reviews audit process" taking up more room than the portion of the story before the jump.

Reporter Emily Younker begins with a newsworthy item, the informational presentation made by Kelly Davis of the state auditor's office, which continues after the jump to page six.

After that,the remainder of the article includes four bulleted items, the increase in price of school lunches, purchases of furniture and textbooks, a brief recounting of the security that will be in place for the new high school, and a report on improvements in reading scores among fifth and eighth graders.

That's it.

Thankfully, Younker spared us the latest in the interminable updates telling us that construction on Joplin High School is progressing nicely and school will open on time, but how in the world can any reputable newspaper overlook a decision that puts a school district into long-term debt to cover expenses that did not have to be made?

The discussion over the $8 million (or whatever amount it is) offered important insight into how the current board of education operates and how it has operated for the past few years.

The Globe certainly had a dilemma. It had a choice between going with the latest Andra Bryan Stefanoni  lighter than air feature and loose llamas or some news that could actually make a difference to a great many people in the Globe's main readership area.

So the $8 million in might-as-well spending, which the Globe never mentioned when Paul Barr first brought it up, remains relegated to the same Globe trash heap where David Wallace's bankruptcies, Mike Woolston's ethical lapses, and the Joplin R-8 School District's 300 plus departing teachers have been consigned.


Anonymous said...

Those improvements in reading scores were nothing short of astronomical, weren't they? It would be exciting except that it is statistically improbable that a district would HONESTLY see that kind of improvement in reading in one year. Or five. It's kind of like the Miracle on 32nd Street when it comes to graduation rates. It just doesn't happen. Unless kids can make up a whole semester in a week, that is. There really is a Santa Claus, Virginia, and he put miraculous data wrapped in a shiny, 6.5 mile ribbon under the tree for little CJ to open and show off to his friends.

Anonymous said...

To quote Mark Twain, "There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damned lies, and statistics."