Last year’s school referendum costing taxpayers plenty, was a failure. Is the school district on the same trajectory this year? It’s debatable whether failure resulted from misinformation as claimed by the district (without specifics), or more plausibly lack of trust in district consultant, Nexus. What seems non-debatable is that the school board majority does not want to discuss Nexus openly.
During the June 5 school board meeting the majority rejected board member Melissa Enger’s desire to discuss whether Nexus should continue as consultant. The subject was raised again at the July 10 meeting by board member Mary Frantz who got the same treatment. Board member Stacey Ruelle acknowledged in a statement that “they (the community) don’t like the answers,” regarding Nexus and she’s right, but she also dismisses serious discussion.
While the board majority rejects public discussion regarding Nexus, it apparently isn’t troubled by private discussions in an out-of-town meeting between Nexus officials, school board representatives (chair, vice-chair, and former chair), Superintendent Teri Staloch, and Vote YES committee members, as reported in the July 1 American. The fact that some attendees lied about the meeting or refused to comment suggests it was supposed to be a secret affair.
From a June 17 article in the American we learn facility maintenance bids came in over budget. Staff member Jim Dellwo is reported to have said the overrun was “probably due to a late start in the bidding process.” In a July 15 article, we learn the district rejected a low bidder (a Prior Lake company) on a technicality involving bid documents, and will pay 40 to 50 percent more to a higher bidder. It’s my understanding that Nexus and district officials were responsible for the bid process for these projects. When the district pays 40 to 50 percent more than required because of a poorly administered bid process, taxpayers get hit twice via increased project costs while Nexus still gets paid. District taxpayers and a locally owned business lose, while Nexus wins.
Board members who don’t want to discuss Nexus say it would be a “distraction” to achieving a successful referendum. They miss the point. Nexus is the major distraction to the success of any future referendum. They say community concerns regarding Nexus have been answered, but repeated claims that Nexus has saved the district gobs of money is no answer to specific questions about business competence, ethics, and transparency.
Please read more from the Prior Lake American: http://www.swnewsmedia.com/prior_lake_american/news/opinion/letters_to_the_editor/letter-there-are-winners-and-losers-when-nexus-is-involved/article_db9e7e8d-13ae-5a33-9ba5-f3ecc13bf504.html