Do you ever wonder if the Florida Keys school district ever heard about that river in Egypt?

de Nile 2

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Down here in the school district wing of The State Mengal, er, Mental, sometimes also referred to on these pages as The Asteroid Belt, that would also be The Florida Keys, Rick Boettger, of Key West, replied to yesteday’s  conspiracy and yellow journalism, howls school board member John Dick of The Key West Citizen Editorial Board post:

Date: Sat, 16 Mar 2013 01:13:21 -0400
Subject: Re: conspiracy & yellow journalism/new Pope Francis
From: rd.boettger@gmail.com

To: keysmyhome@hotmail.com

Excellent journalism, Sloan.  Thank you.

 

John Dick
School board member John Dick (photo) was back on US 1 Radio (www.us1radio.comyesterday afternoon, with Ezra Marcus on Evening Magazine. This time, John was not rabid, like he had been the day before with Bill Becker on Morning Magazine. This time, John made rational arguments for the school district having made progress, but it still has a long way to go.
Even so, John still was distracted, deluded also comes to mind, in his continued projection of a conspiracy consisting of The Key West Citizen, Academica (a private corporation which runs many public schools across America), and unnamed individuals in South Florida, and Todd German, who are out to throw the school district to Academica, for it to run.
This time, John brought “Blogger Sloan” into it, by that name, saying Todd and I are good friends, we talk and email all the time, and we are pushing for Academica to take over of the school district, by trying to get the school district first taken over by the Florida Board of Education, which then will hand the school district over the Academica, as pre-arranged behind the scenes.
In fact, I started pushing for a state takeover before Hometown! PAC’s call to candidates at Salute Ristorante in Key West last April. Todd German was Hometown!’s chairman, and he was the MC for that event. I told the audience, the school district was “terminally, dysfunctionally insane”, and it didn’t matter who got elected to the school board, the district would not be fixed. I called for a state takeover of the district. All of which came on the heels of Solares Hill Editor Mark Howell having just told me that my websites were required reading for school district issues. Solares Hill is a wholly-owned subsidiary magazine of The Key West Citizen, and appears in its Sunday editions.
In fact, I did talk with Todd about Academica before Hometown!’s call to candidates, because I wanted to know if Academica was capable of taking over and running an entire school district. Todd said he thought Academica probably could do that, but his understanding was Academica mostly took over and ran schools, as charter schools. Academica did that with the Collegiate high school in Key West, after Todd became that school’s chairman of the board and he searched around for a solution to that schools terrible problems, and he found Academica and they agreed to take over the school and run it, for free, for a year, as I recall the arrangement. Thereafter, Academica would be paid to run the school, as I recall the arrangement.
In fact, I did talk with Todd about the school district being taken over by the Board of Education. I talked with Todd many times about it. And every time, he said he was more hopeful than I, he wanted it to work out internally. He proved that was his position by being on the new superintendent of schools search committee, and by busting his butt trying to bring forward the best possible candidates for the job. When Mark Porter was selected by the school board to replace Randy Acevedo, Todd was exuberant; he told me Mark was a “rock star”. I said I hoped Mark would be able to pull it off, but I still felt the district needed to be taken over by the Board of Education. I continued to tell Todd that, even until recently, and every time he said he hoped Mark Porter would be able to turn the district around. Never once did Todd say he wanted the state to take over the school district, even though it was clear he had grave concerns about the district.
I will email Bill Becker at US 1 Radio, and ask to be given a few minutes on the air, since John Dick dragged me into this on Ezra Marcus’ show. I am entitled to a fair response, and it has been US 1 Radio’s practice to have me on the air when something comes up involving me.
There is more, which everyone interested in this situation needs to know.
John Dick told Ezra Marcus on the air yesterday, that Todd German wrote the recent editorial in The Key West Citizen, which launched John into his accusations against Todd re Academica. It is my understanding that Todd did not write that editorial. It is my understanding that Todd was not at the editorial board meeting where that editorial was discussed. I don’t know who wrote the editorial, but I heard from someone, not Todd, that it was written by The Citizen’s Publisher, Paul Clarin.
It is my understanding that there was an inquiry to Todd about the possibility of Acedemica and/or some other company taking over the school district’s finance department and running it. It was an outsourcing inquiry. It came from two men, whom everyone involved in school district affairs know quite well. These two men live in the Keys. As far as I know, they have no connection to Academica. They are well thought of in the Keys. They approached Todd about Adademica, because they knew he had a line to the top in that company. 
Todd told Bill Becker that in a taped interview, without going into any of the background of who had approached him. Todd told Bill that he had then contacted Academica about it taking over the finance department of the school district. Not about taking over the school district, but only the finance department. Academica said it didn’t do that. It ran schools. Todd reported that back to the two men. Todd thought that was the end of it. That interview was played by Bill Becker yesterday morning on US 1 Radio.
John Dick heard Todd’s words. Then, John continued to carry on as if he had not heard Todd’s words. Then, John dragged me into it. Now John is hearing more about it, as he will receive a copy of this post. As will the other school board members. As will Mark Porter. As will Bill Becker.
I told Todd that John Dick, the rest of the school board members, Mark Porter, and the general public need to know what really happened, and that the two men who approached Todd need to come forward and set that straight in plain view. Todd said he agreed. I told him to pass that along to those two men, from me. Todd said he would do that. I don’t know what is in those two men’s heads, because I have not spoken to them about any of this. Nor will I speak to them unless they approach me. They set this in motion, it is on them to come forward with it.
Meanwhile, I remain of the view that the school district is terminally dysfunctionally insane and needs to be taken over by the Board of Education. I suggest to John Dick, if he wants to blame someone for all of this, he should blame me, since I am the person who started the state takeover of the school district talk. I am happy to take the blame for that. I am happy to see The Citizen call for a state  takeover, because John and other members of the school board view me as a lunatic, of no import. But The Citizen is something else. No longer can John and the rest of the school board pretend there is not serious interest in a state takeover of the school district. No longer can John and the rest of the school board think all they have to answer to is the voters.Emoji
Here is a school district article in the Keynoter. My thoughts in italics.

By SEAN KINNEY

skinney@keynoter.com

Posted – Wednesday, March 13, 2013 11:30 AM EDT

        As Monroe County School District administrators weigh their response to a Florida Auditor General’s Office preliminary financial and operational audit, it appears at least one critical finding may be reversed.

State auditors, in a draft released Feb. 20, cited the district for defaulting on a $36 million construction loan to rebuild Horace O’Bryant Middle School in Key West.

The audit finding reads:  “The district’s required annual debt payment of $2,117,647, due on Dec. 1, 2011, was made on Aug. 24, 2012, or 267 days late.”   

        But, in what Superintendent Mark Porter described as “great news,” Fort Lauderdale-based U.S. Bank’s Corporate Trust Services Vice President Peter Fowler notified the district on March 4 that the problem was with bond documents and payment schedules.

“Because the funds were on hand at the School District and remitted upon receipt of invoicing for the funding dates,” Fowler wrote to Director of Finance Ken Gentile, “the School Board is in compliance with the payment terms of the tax certificate and no technical event of default occurred.”

The most recent audit, covering the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2012, continues a four-year trend of numerous repeat findings, with the most recent listing one “significant deficiency,” 12 “additional matters” and five “federal awards findings.”

The district escaped the state audit’s most serious finding, referred to as “material weakness.”

The significant deficiency reported by state auditors was found in “financial reporting procedures (that) could be improved to ensure that transactions and note disclosures are properly reported.” That’s viewed as a wholesale criticism of the district’s bookkeeping.

The School Board, meeting in Key West after press time Tuesday, was scheduled to discuss Gentile’s audit response, which outlines corrective action to state regulators who will consider the district’s explanations before finalizing their audit.

Relative to the HOB finding, Gentile notes the district “partially disagree[s]” citing the loan document errors. “The error [was] caught internally as part of year-end reconcilement and the bank was notified.  The trustee bank confirmed that there was not technical default.”

Anyone who swallows any of this spin-doctoring should not be allowed to vote in any school board race, forever. There is no way the finance department did not know when the HOB loan was due. Again, during the recent school board workshop, Gentile told the school board that money was tight back then, there were a lot of obligations. Translated, a choice was made not to pay the HOB loan, but to pay other obligations.  An insane choice, because everyone knew that is a stimulus package loan, it is basically interest free, but it the loan is defaulted, or if the school is not completed on time, the interest has to be paid as a penalty. The interest is about $20,000,000. No way the school district can pay that penalty. Insane, you don’t pay that loan on time.

In another audit finding, the district was cited for not keeping up with board meeting minutes in violation of Florida’s open government Sunshine Law. Gentile agrees with the audit finding and responds:  “Due to a change in staffing and reorganization this reporting lapsed during the year.  Administrative staffing was added and minutes are up to date.”

School Board Chairman Andy Griffiths noted that 10 of the audit findings are suggestions on how to “enhance existing controls,” rather than indictments of current controls.

He took to social media site Facebook on Sunday to address the HOB finding specifically and the audit in general.

“As of today, it’s fixed,” he said of the HOB issue.  “That’s why this audit is called preliminary.  Now, I agree the preliminary audit is not good, but there were no material weaknesses, one significant and rest additional.”

For Gentile’s complete audit response, check out www.keysschools.com.

What you should have on the school board are people who are violently allergic to spin-doctoring, white-washing. Capt. Ed Davidson is pretty darn close to that.

I found myself wondering what I would answer, if a honcho from the Board of Education called me to ask who I would recommend for an emergency board to run the school district after a state takeover.

I would say:

ED DAVIDSON

STEVE PRIBRAMSKY, an accountant and financial planner, who served one term on the school board, and who, alone, had the audacity to express concern about the HOB stimulus package loan – What if something goes wrong? What happens to us then? Steve was shouted down, essentially, told there was nothing to worry about, nothing could go wrong.

LARRY MURRAY, who ran for the school board last year, after serving a term on the school board’s Audit & Finance Committee, and who THEN continued to dog the school board and the superintendent about school district finances and operating and managing procedures.

MARGARET ROMERO, who made her mark in corporate America, then retired and came home to Key West, where she became a diligent citizen watchdog, attending Key West city commission and other city government meetings, county commission meetings, and school board meetings, and speaking pointedly and forcefully at such meetings, including the last school board meeting, where she scolded the school board for complaining about the way the newspapers and blogs were treating the school district.

KATHY REITZEL, former head of the school district finance department, who bravely blew the whistle on the Acevedos in a known retaliatory work environment, and became the State Attorney’s star witness, whose testimony got both Acevedos indicted and convicted, but for whose testimony, Randy Acevedo might still be superintendent of schools. Then, she was fired, for not blowing the whistle sooner. It would boost rank and file and teacher morale to see Kathy back in the school district; it would encourage whistleblowing, and Kathy would not have to be trained.

And yes, the emergency board members should be paid a wage commensurate with the responsibility of the job and the risk assumed in a community where it is common knowledge that you rock the boat at your own risk.

Sloan Bashinsky

keysmyhome@hotmail.com

The “Vatican” part of yesterday’s the legacy of Francis of Assisi, and other considerations new Pope Francis might wish to ponder greatly expanded at the Mystics, Madmen & Muses open Facebook group, which should be reachable at this link provided by a member of that group, whom I have known since 1990:

 

 

 

About Sloan

That's what this website is about, also goodmorningkeywest.com and goodmorningbirmingham.com. If you can't get a publisher to take on your wacky musing, you do it yourself.
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