Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Letter to Joplin R-8 Board: What were you thinking?

The following letter to the members of the Joplin R-8 Board of Education was submitted to the Turner Report by Ryan Jackson of Joplin.

Dear Board Members,

Since I pretty much know all of you, I will just be blunt and ask the question.

At a time when our school district is going out to borrow money to finish projects that a bond issue and donations were supposed to handle, we hear about the low reserves due to all the spending our district had to do after the tornado, and we hear about teachers leaving for better paying positions in other districts; why in the world would we waste $90,000+ to buy new seats in a gymnasium due to an issue with the color?

Someone had to sign off on the blue seats, I'm sure someone saw at least one in there before they were all installed and could of called to stop the problem, but apparently not. Instead our district opts to install seats, take them out and reinstall new ones because of the color? You all must realize how absurd this sounds.

I have often bit my tongue on many issues with all of you, so let's call this the straw to break the camels back. The only one of you who seemed to think this was problematic is Dr. Fort, and I applaud her for being willing to put a foot down and say enough is enough.

I would sincerely appreciate an answer from each of you explaining your position and reason for your vote on this ridiculous spending. If you don't care to answer me, that's your prerogative, but please know the next time I see you this will come up, as it will each time I see you until you can muster a response. 

You are elected officials who should answer to the constitutes you represent, many of you are people I have voted for, and many of you have posted signs on my family's property for at least one of your elections. When do you say enough with these additional spending frills you choose, and start showing some accountability? What lesson does this teach to the students of our district about financial responsibility? I anxiously await each of your responses to these questions.

Regards,
Ryan Jackson

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

The BOE president will answer for everyone just as soon as the PR person,
attorney, and CJ provide her with an authorized statement.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't have said it better myself, Ryan Jackson. Thank you for doing this. I understand seats will be removed over xmas break. aionNF

Anonymous said...

We keep hearing about educator flite, but noncertified personnel have also left in droves. The surrounding districts have benefited by hiring our best bus drivers, and so on.

Anonymous said...

Well said Ryan Jackson...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this letter, Ryan. I'm not in a position to say those things openly, but it makes me angry to have my tax dollars wasted in this irresponsible way. "What lesson does this teach to the students of our district about financial responsibility?" The wrong lesson - and this from the professional educators.

Anonymous said...

They should be more worried about the lack of people in those seats. If they were full noone would see the color. People fed up and it it is showing many ways. There is a lack of support for activities due to the nonsense eveyone has heard and seen. It is sad that our school, and our town are now preceived this way.

Anonymous said...

Getting harder and harder to act like Turner is some outlier; I haven't seen too many comments the past few days about how Turner and the supportive comments are isolated, bitter ravings.

Watch and wait: the Turner-haters will move the goalposts yet again. When they are forced to acknowledge that Huff and the Board have indeed been poor stewards, they will criticize Turner for something else.

Not entirely unlike the Globe's editorial when Speck was finally ousted. They completely failed as a journalistic entity, having spent the past several years kissing Speck's a**, and yet pretended like they were the champions of transparency. They told the anonymous internet critics to "slink away", even though the internet has been the only window into what was actually going on in town. Southernwatch and Turner played a real role in that, just as with this.

All these people coming out publicly with criticism are familiar with Turner, you better believe it. There are many more, but they have to play a political game and not burn too many bridges - I know that's not always the way we would like it, but that's part of functioning in the world sometimes, too. The ball has been rolling, it's picking up speed. It's becoming more safe to publicly oppose Huff's incompetence. The Globe will soon enough pretend like they gave a crap the whole time. Fort deserves much respect for being willing to put up with the heat from those people who treated her horribly just because she was not part of their club.

As for positive news, at least when they reinstall seats it will be a great opportunity for another grand opening ceremony. I hear the President's attendance was requested, but they're sending a random Congressional page in his stead - what an honor!

Anonymous said...

For those in R8 struggling with "rigor," try looking up "vindication."

Anonymous said...

Joplin R-89 reserves as a percentage since 2007 (from DESE.MO.GOV)
2007-08 24.75%
2008-09 24.56%
2009-10 21.38%
2010-11 26.84%
2011-12 19.37%
2012-13 14.90%
2013-14 10.64%

Anonymous said...

If my students gave an answer like this on a standardized test (Common Core or otherwise), they would receive 0 points.

Anonymous said...

There are still many things left unfinished in the classrooms at Franklin Technology Center because of lack of funds. And now, they are paying 90,000 to replace seats that aren't the correct color? we sat on bleachers when we were in school!!Wow!!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Turner.... Could have*

Anonymous said...

This school district owes CJ Huff a huge debt of gratitude for firing that "pornographer" Randy Turner. If he and his lackeys hadn't railroaded Randy, we might not have known anything about the things that are going on in this school district. CJ should be fired just for being so stupid that he did not know better than to fire someone who has made his living as an investigative reporter.

Anonymous said...

Turner didn't write this. It was Ryan Jackson.

Anonymous said...

Those who are commenting need to be sure they read everything and understand what they are commenting on before doing so. First of all, Mr. Turner did not write this letter, he is sharing this letter written by someone else as an editorial. This is something that any respectable journalism outlet should allow, including the Globe. One thing that should not be happening is their staff writing these editorials. They are supposed to remain impartial and report on the facts only. This is why I will never rely on outlets like Fox News or the Joplin Globe for news anymore.

I believe there should be an investigation of the school board for possible fraud being committed by part of the district administration. Instead of asking who made this so-called mistake, we need to be asking who benefits from this "mistake". I'm sorry, but one just does not mistakenly spend $90,000+ on seats they didn't intend to install. On top of that, orders for materials go through several hands before being approved and paid for. This was not just some innocent mistake as people would like to believe. There must be some sort of corruption going on and it needs to be sought out.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Turner, I am one of those who have sat back and read your blog for the past several months, agreed with most of the things you have written, but figured you were just flailing against the wind and nobody was ever going to be able to do anything about the powers that be in the city of Joplin, especially telling the truth about them. I am also one of those ones who has allowed you to continue doing all of this valuable work and have not contributed a cent to your efforts. That changed a few minutes ago. I subscribed through the button on your page and I hope others do, too. It is people like you and Debbie Fort that make me feel like things will start looking up in this city and in this school district. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone thought Turner wrote this. It very clearly states that Ryan Jackson did. It is pretty clear however that if Turner had not written about the seats Friday night it is probable that the Globe wouldn't have written about it and it is altogether possible that we might never have known that this $95,000 was being spent. And if that was the case, then we might never have had this wonderful letter from Mr. Jackson.

Anonymous said...

To comment about the fraud and over spending!!! C. J. Huff was trying to leave the district to get out of the line of fire from the state audit. The audit is not just for the misappropriation of funds, but also for countless " Wrongful Terminations" that have occurred post tornado.

Anonymous said...

Mission Accomplished!

Anonymous said...

This should be a lesson to kids (and many adults) everywhere. Just because you get away with something stupid one time, or several times, don't just keep pushing yoir luck to see where the boundaries are. Eventually, you will find them.

Anonymous said...

Has Ryan Jackson ran for school board election?

I know he has for city council unsuccessfully.

Anonymous said...

Yes Ryan Jackson run for BOE if not too late

Anonymous said...

Jackson for BOE

Anonymous said...

The seats bother none of the highschoolers its the adults that seem to have an issue. They can't even put curtains on the windows so students can see the board during class on a sunny day because "they want us to see and appreciate all the money the spent on the highschool". They don't care about any of the people in the fine arts programs. They can't even manage to make sure that side of the building is done on time. They have rescheduled the opening for that side of the building for the third time now, and they are worried about seats?. Joplin school board shouldn't be proud of what they are doing. They should be ashamed.

Anonymous said...

While everyone makes comments about the seats and the poor performance of the school board, how many have actually attended a school board meeting and requested to speak? How many have made their voice heard PRIOR to a school board vote? Everyone can criticize, but until you actually get up and do something about it you are no different than the decisions you disagree with. You as a citizen have the right to attend open meetings and contact school board members BEFORE the vote. The citizens are failing Joplin schools just as much as the school board for not attending or speaking up except on forums. Yes I did attend the meeting, and yes I have spoke out publicly for those wondering.

Anonymous said...

To be clear, I was not advocating that Mr. Jackson run for BOE.

It was simply a question of whether or not he has in the past.

Anonymous said...

Their answer to white board glare was to paint them orange. Yes, orange. Have you ever tried to see black marker on an orange board? It's almost as hard as CJ seeing his glaring deficiencies.

Anonymous said...

We are told that under Huff Statutes, only BOE approved agenda items may be addressed; and those are strictly timed. Further, While Queen Anne will shout down a duly elected BOE member, she shows even less regard for the parents. Add to that the fact that anyone vulnerable to retaliation (employees, their family and friends, etc..) will absolutely pay for their insolence. Hopefully, a new sane BOE will reinstitute open and fair dealings with all stakeholders.

Anonymous said...

@8:10 am

Actually, I do attend BOE meetings. And have written emails/ letters to each member personally. You know what? The only ones to even acknowledge my letters were Kimbrough, Fort, and Banwart. I'd expect just even a quick - I received your letter reply...
NOTHING !

I vote.
I attend parent conferences for all three of my children- even at the high school.
So I am a citizen who is involved.

I'll be glad to speak up at the BOE meetings. Let me manipulate the paperwork about the topic ( since I have to fill out a form AND be approved). Trust me- you will wish you had not invited ,e to do so.

So the garbage you are spouting above is a joke.

Be careful what you wish for... You may find that YOU really don't want the commenters on here to arrive en mass at the BOE meetings

Anonymous said...

Although I agree with Debbie Fort's vote on this particular issue, make no mistake about her "good intentions" or her competence. She was the highest paid elementary principal in the district at one time and her building had the worst, or close to worst, test scores (reference DESE website). She ignored and violated policy, someone should ask about milk money cash and PTO checking account. Now she sets in a seat and condemns others in the district for test scores? She had the training, hence the title DR., and couldn't produce results. She is no savior people! And frankly, she wasn't even a good principal. Now you think she is going to be a good board member? Please! She has an agenda and I for one, and many more agree, that it is not to do what is best for kids. It appears to be about vengeance and revenge.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone asked about the architect yet? What was his role in this? It seems to me he is getting a free pass on all of these out of control expenditures at the high school, this being one of them. I hear he is proud of this school he designed but I bet many people could design really cool things if they didn't have a budget to stay in. Just saying! Has anyone asked the board about that?

Anonymous said...

Tell me @5:17- what's best for the kids?

New "correct color" stadium seats for the gym?
Way to improve those test scores!

$25.00 parking fees? Oh, that'll get my kid prepared for the ACT/SAT

TLC positions? Those benefit my kids how?

She may not be a savior but at least she has the Chutzpah to say NO

Anonymous said...

The architect doesn't really know much about kids and what really happens in schools. All those windows make it impossible to see the computer screens on a sunny day. There are so many places where kids can, and will, get hurt because they are kids. Impulsive. I just hope that my child survives one more year unharmed, and that he learns a little bit along the way. Kind of depends on the teacher, so it would seem. There is not much uniformity of expectation for staff or students. Parents are on their own to find out what teachers they can trust and how to get materials for their children. Big. Stinking. Mess.

Anonymous said...

Absurd...the board should be absolutely ashamed. SMH

Anonymous said...

So has anyone else read where they are moving the seats from an elementary school that are the right color to the high school and the high school seats are going to the elementary school? Or did anyone care to do the research and not just guess?

Anonymous said...

@9:15pm
If seats were simply "being swapped out" as you are suggesting - there wouldn't be a $90,000 cost involved. Come on now - let's use some common sense here. I think everyone has read plenty, done their research - etc. And frankly, everyone is fed UP with the constant nonsense.

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely correct. This is obviously about vengeance and revenge. Yours, not hers.

Anonymous said...

It seems like CJ Huff was the one pushing the new seats the most. I figure he thought he had a new job lined up and this was a last screw you to the people of Joplin. Incidentally the announcement that he did not get the position came very quickly after. Hopefully he screwed himself out of the better job instead. To bad we are now stuck with him

Anonymous said...

Every Joplin R8 School District Board Of Education member should immediately resign. Except Doctor Debra Fort.

Taxpayers.

Russ Beck said...

Stupidity is rampant at all levels of government. This mentality is why this area is one of the most impoverished places I have ever lived in the US. I think the board members need to donate 50% of their paycheck until we have the money saved to replace the seats. After that they can continue to donate 50% for everyone on welfare in the area.

Anonymous said...

Would any school board member who reads ( and comments anonymously ) on this blog like to answer to everyone WHY DID YOU VOTE FOR THESE SEATs?
Mike Landis- you didn't want to vote yes on frickin blue jeans but you vote yes on 95,000.00 seats?

Have any of you EVER voted against something? Besides jeans....

b m said...

I agree with you 100% and think it is sad that they are willing to spend that money on seats and there color but are not willing to spend the money to bus our preschoolers who are the future attendees of Joplin r-8

Anonymous said...

The seat colors need changed to red like the middle schools and I haven't heard that mentioned. The tan and royal need to go. They should have been red all along. Same designer who thought the outside colors on all the new schools must have thought the tri-toned gym would look good. The only good looking newer schools are south and north.

JaedEn Humphrey said...

I am a senior student at Joplin High School. My name is Jaed'en. I post my name because I want everyone to know exactly who this is coming from. I truly believe there is no point in putting in these new seats, at all, whatsoever. These seats will not change our education, what will change our education is the thought of putting in curtains. In the high school we have new "smart walls." It is like a smart board but it is a specially painted wall that you can write on with an expo marker. It truly is amazing if you look at it on a cloudy day.... If the sun is out, you might as well forget about trying to see anything because the light affects the visuals of the wall. They don't even realize how hard it is to learn when you practically have to wear sunglasses in your class to even see. I wish I could personally speak with CJ Huff because he is obviously making a huge mistake. On a side note, I would just like to mention not only do we apparently "need" new seats, we also "need" a wall that has color changing lights, a hallway between the high school and Franklin Tech that is stained glass, a cloud chandelier in our cafeteria, and trash cans that are designed with the school logo. All of this does not affect learning, it just looks pretty and do we care what it looks like? No, we don't we just want a good education not a fancy school. So, thank you so much for not caring what the public thinks because most of us, including students, don't care about our bleachers. If we can live with them the school board should be able to, as well.

Anonymous said...

It would be nice if they would finish the performing arts side of the building first because those kids are made to feel like the red-headed stepchildren as it is. They don't even have permanent classrooms. Prioritize Joplin Schools!

Anonymous said...

All of the comments are good however, as we type and gripe, the seats are being changed and Huff and Queen Anne AGAIN get their way.
The Tennis Courts are 3 feet too short to be used for any State or National Competition. The auditorium was to have an escape route in the sound-proof rooms off to the side. They do not, nor have they been wired for an emergency should one happen. The list goes on and on about problems with the building.

Teachers fear retaliation if they speak up about Huff.

And yet, he still is here.