Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Proposed deal with Bright Futures is a nightmare for Joplin R-8 taxpayers
The memorandum, which was posted on the district website today, would send all donations directly to Bright Futures Joplin, which would then bank them with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. While a good case can be made for that proposal, some of the other stipulations in the memorandum are clearly not in the interest of the taxpayers.
The district would continue to pay 60 percent of the salaries and benefits of Bright Futures Joplin's two full-time employees, Melissa Winston and Dale Peterson, who are listed respectively as director of community engagement and coordinator of community engagement. (Apparently when community engagement needs directing, Winston handles it and when it needs coordinating Peterson is in charge.)
The agreement would also require the school district to work with Bright Futures Joplin "creating a positive fundraising environment conducive to increasing levels of private support of the mission and priorities of BFJ activities," and would require the superintendent to "work in conjunction with the leadership of the BFJ Board and JS (Joplin Schools) staff to identify, cultivate, and solicit prospects for private gifts that benefit Joplin students."
The memorandum gives the Bright Futures Joplin Board the right to "consult" with the district on the employment and ongoing evaluation of employees. The Board of Education would have the right to approve the membership of the Bright Futures Board.
The first steps toward implementing this agreement were taken November 11 when Winston filed papers with the Missouri Secretary of State's office registering Bright Futures Joplin as a non-profit. In addition to Winston, Bright Futures Advisory Board members Chris Sams, Christie Barnhart, and Sara Newman are listed as incorporators.
The memorandum is scheduled to come up at tonight's Board of Education meeting. If it is approved, it locks the district into a continuation of the worst of the excesses of former Superintendent C. J. Huff, including a bloated bureaucracy and directing nearly all private donations through the framework of Bright Futures Joplin.
Instead of allowing this not-for-profit to gain a permanent foothold in the Joplin R-8 School District, it is time to take a close look at the program, maintain the portions that have worked, eliminate the full-time staff members, and finally, once and for all, leave the name Bright Futures in the dark past where it belongs.