Thursday, March 05, 2015

Is Joplin R-8 in trouble financially? C. J. Huff says no

The C. J. Huff spin machine was clicking on all cylinders during his interview Wednesday morning with KZRG.

Asked if the Joplin R-8 School District was in trouble financially, Huff said, "No, not at all," and repeated that he and the Board of Education have always predicted that the fund balance would drop to eight percent before things got better.

That would have been the time to hit the superintendent with a follow-up question. If we knew that the fund balance was going to drop that low was it necessary to do everything possible to make sure it happens?

For instance, how about that eight million dollars in might-as-well spending? Was it really ncessary to have artificial turf and lighting for practice fields. Was it necessary to add four tennis courts at a time when we had no idea when (or if) we would receive the full amount of money we were anticipating from FEMA and SEMA? Did we really need a new track at the high school right now when we still have a serviceable one?

Or was it prudent to spend $3 million (and not track how it was spent) in what turned out to be an unsuccessful effort to get Joplin High School opened on time in August. Certainly, we would have been forced to pay more rent for temporary facilities for a few months, but that would not have added up to $3 million.

Was it really necessary to spend $1 million for travel over a three-year period when you were already predicting that the fund balance would be in single digits?

The state audit showed that the school district had a balance of $16 million three years ago and will be down to $4.5 million later this year. If you add up eight million dollars in might as well spending, $3 million for the rush job on the high school and $1 million for travel, that's $12 million. Of course, you would have been spending some money for rent and a reduced amount for travel, but for the most part this school district's fund balance would have been in the same condition it was in three years ago.

It is called a rainy day fund for a reason. Hopefully, we will never be forced to deal with anything like the tornado again, but there are hundreds of variables that could occur that could make us wish the taxpayers' money had been handled more prudently.

During the KZRG interview, Huff also repeated his claim that the state audit wasn't that bad because nearly every school that is audited receives a "poor" (lowest ranking) or "fair" (next-to-lowest ranking).

What Huff failed to mention is that while the Missouri state auditor's office audits all state government agencies and counties on a regular basis, the only times school districts are audited are when there is a petition or when the school district itself asks for the audit.

When either of those things happen that is a good sign that the districts have problems, so naturally, most of them are going to receive the lowest rankings.

Pure spin, and again, no one is challenging Huff on this point.

When Huff  told Morning News Watch, "We felt pretty confident we were going to come up with a 'fair' grade," that means he was expecting that the audit would not be a good one, not that everything was okay.

He also said, "Overall, we were pleased with the outcome."

That says a lot about his management of the Joplin R-8 School District.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

As a very wise man once said, 'If you wouldn't do so much damage, you wouldn't have to do so much damage control." I think that applies well to R8.

Anonymous said...

Being in the company of other districts caught in illegal, unethical, or poorly managed business practices is hardly bragging rights, CJ. It is further evidence that you are inept. If you had known that your funds would plummet, it would have seemed prudent to cut back on nonessential staff, excess spending (remember that trip you took to a conference with the theme, Doing More with Less), and indulgences like light fixtures that look like a giant amoeba. Graphics that cost over a million dollars? Not really that essential to good learning.

You say one thing, but you have done the opposite of what you should have done. Take the blame and move on. Literally. Move somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps, knowing what was coming, he might have held back on raises for himself. His income has gone up exponentially through the years, not counting his speaking fees that he doesn't report. His administrative staff have enjoyed significant increases in income. Everyone else's incomes have been reduced or are stagnant. That's the poorest form of leadership. You should suffer with the rest of us. As it is, no one can take you seriously.

Anonymous said...

Why didn't the audit have anything to say about Huff's speaking fees?

Anonymous said...

"We were pleased with the outcome" as in "at least nobody's going to jail." Yet.

Anonymous said...

Had high stakes test results of STUDENTS in this district showed a "fair" rating, I can guarantee that teachers and principals would have been held accountable by CJ. Teachers would have been severely reprimanded, and countless more hours of worthless professional development would have been mandatory. Many teachers would have been fired, and maybe even a few principals. CJ would have been furious, and embarrassed by the poor performance. Now the shoe is on the other foot. It is the rest of us who are embarrassed with CJ, and his poor performance as a superintendent. No matter how CJ's spins it, a "fair" performance is a D!!

Anonymous said...

Has he ever spoken about the fact that so many people were hired whom did not meet the requirements and they still are on staff? Check in to those salaries.

Anonymous said...

WAKE UP!!! People, Randy has exposed the facts regarding R-8 finances and practices and we all agree with him as it has unfolded in public. We were at the meeting that was held to explain the auditor's findings to the public. At the meeting, there were only 5 citizens there that weren't somehow involved with the school. Koch, Fort, Patrick Martucci and two citizens had issues with the board's response to the audit and spoke up, I realize many fear retaliation, but if there are no complaints, you can expect no change. Randy gives you a format to inform and allow you to vent, but you must actually attend the forums to expect change. Humphrey's got us the auditor, the auditor proved Randy's assertions to the limit that he could, but there will be no knight on a white horse coming to the rescue. The auditor will return in 90 days to verify the changes demanded have occurred, and that could possibly be the last opportunity to demand redress. I will ask that the board allow another public meeting at that time for close-out comments to this issue. If again, the public refuses to attend or comment, then you should expect more of the same that everyone complains about, but refuses to demand.

Anonymous said...

Come now, 9:21, we don't use letter grades. The district is "not meeting" expectations. Let's all get on board with standards based grading. We don't want CJ to feel like a failure.

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't Randy attend the meetings and ask those questions? If he wants another local paper/blog to be the voice of the people then go to the meetings and ask the questions.

Anonymous said...

I believe the post audit meeting was handily set during a winter weather warning advisory. School can be canceled for one inch of snow, but that meeting had no chance of being postponed as the bad weather is exactly what they were hoping for.

Anonymous said...

Someone other than Randy has to ask the questions. As long as it is just Randy, CJ can play the disgruntled ex-employee card. Make no mistake about it, there were people a lot higher up than CJ in this town wanted Randy brought down and marginalized. It has been a pleasure to watch him bounce back and make things uncomfortable for all of them, but there is only so much one man can do. Others need to start asking the questions he is asking and demanding answers.

Anonymous said...

No matter how glaringly obvious and abysmal his performance, Huff will NEVER feel like a failure.

Anonymous said...

Actually I was out there signing my girls up for softball, the weather was cold (but clear) and there was plenty of parking. Only about 12 people showed up to hear the results and ask questions. Why??

Anonymous said...

Why didn't the audit have anything to say about Huff's speaking fees?

Because the state can only audit the school district, not the man, unless any fees he got were remitted to the school district.

It would be up to, say, the IRS and/or the Missouri Department of Revenue to audit him, or whatever part of Missouri government is responsible for dealing with false income statements of public officials if he, say, got income from the speeches, declared it on his income taxes, but not on the disclosure form.

Anonymous said...

CJ reminds me of people who receive a huge tax refund and, instead of putting some of it aside for emergencies, can't rest until they have spent every last dime. The difference is they are spending their own money and CJ is spending ours.

Anonymous said...

What is truly sad about his whole thing is the citizens of Joplin appear not to care. No one is busting the doors down on the administration building demanding CJ Huffs resignation along with his puppets. The citizens do not care. Its a shame they dont.

Anonymous said...

Why didn't more people go? Good question, but here are some things that I heard:
1. They didn't think it would be worth the time because there would be no side presented but CJ's, and they didn't expect an honest answer to anything from him. This is the most common remark.
2. Wrong time of the evening. Family obligations came first.
3. Teachers didn't dare go and watch their supreme leader be grilled.
4. Apathy. They don't think anything will ever change.
5. People don't understand the audit process and didn't have time to study it first.

These are the things I've heard around town. It really is disappointing that more people didn't show up, but they really didn't want to listen to CJ. And after hearing that Anson was CJ's mouthpiece again, they were relieved at having made that decision. As usual, the Globe only interviewed pro-CJ factions, so if the people of Joplin are relying on the Globe or the local television stations for news, they may have a false sense of security. Sad situation for them.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps they might have nixed the event manager position as well as excess events, like the overblown ribbon cutting that the public snubbed despite being promised a piece of that fancy ribbon. Or maybe instead of having a department of community outreach and fundraising people-another failed CJ idea-they might have just left that money in the general fund. Give the taxpayers your budget and a red pen and they will have your budget woes fixed in a jiffy.

Anonymous said...

They've spent tens of thousands of dollars firing people and hundreds of thousands of dollars paying off lawsuits. Maybe if they'd act decently they wouldn't need to spend any more funds for those activities. Eliminating whistleblowers is expensive. Treating people as you wish to be treated? Priceless.

Anonymous said...

2:24

I used to think they didn't care, but what I've found out is that those who really care are intimidated by the Huff administration. But you will note he had few supporters there, too. Just his handpicked board candidates and Anson. That fails to impress all the way around. A horse's ass is hardly your best choice for a moderator. Very annoying. Truly. Stupid. Man.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if President Sharp has ceased scratching her head and figuring yet. With a think tank like the Joplin Schools Board of Education and CJ, things will surely get better fast.

Some days I amuse myself.

Anonymous said...

In the words of our President to the rather clueless Mittster:

Please Proceed!

Anonymous said...

I checked the employment page again today and there are still no certified jobs listed. I know of at least eight openings. So, what is the hang up? Are we going to wait until the best candidates have taken jobs elsewhere? Or, are we waiting to see how many teaching positions will be cut? There had better be plenty of cuts made at admin first, the way I see it. Will there be stipends? I think if the district is in sound shape financially that Dr. Huff should be forthcoming and tell us what is going on. This makes no sense whatsoever. No stipends? I go home when the bell rings. More kids for the same pay? I go elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Mission Accomplished!

(What do unicorn farts smell like?)