I sent four questions to the school board and wanted to share the responses I received along with my thoughts. Alan Karpick, School Board President, responded to my email and said that April McClure, Rocky Killion’s administrative assistant, compiled the answers on the board’s behalf. The questions I emailed to the school board members are given in bold, April McClure’s responses are in italics, and my thoughts are in regular text.
#1 – What can be done to make it possible to have a livestream of every school board meeting? Is there an update on the request discussed at the October meeting to allow for comment on the live stream?
Dr. Killion and Mr. Hamilton, Director of Technology, are looking for other ways to provide reliable live audio and/or live streaming at a location that does not impede additional staff time and resources. At this time Board meetings are open to in- person attendance, therefore public comments are welcomed during the in-person platform as listed on the agenda. And as always, written comments are also welcome and can be submitted to the superintendent’s office prior to the meeting date.
A suggestion is to use a large room in Happy Hollow for school board meetings. It sounds as though the library will not be leasing the entire building, so there are likely some large rooms that will be left empty. The tables, chairs, microphones, and livestream equipment would not need to be taken down after the January meeting and would be available for future meetings. If this isn’t possible and if the primary constraint is limited staff time, I’m confident that our community would be willing to contribute to pay the overtime needed. With about 30 percent of students doing online learning at this time, it seems clear that there are many members of our community who would like to be able to participate in school board meetings virtually.
#2 – Which policies were approved at the meeting on December 7th and what changes were made to those policies?
Approved updates are posted to our website within 30 days of Board approval. The following policies were updated: po2370.05 Virtual Education Program(new); po4162 Drug and Alcohol Testing; po7540.02 Web Accessibility; po8450.01 Protective Facial Coverings During Pandemic(new). Archived policies can be requested for review and comparison from the superintendent’s office.
I am disappointed that the school board requires the public to wait 30 days to learn about policy changes they vote to approve. They approved two new policies at the December meeting: one about face coverings and another about online learning. These might be important changes or they might just be the school board putting current practice into writing. We have no way of knowing. The two existing policies that the school board edited are listed at https://go.boarddocs.com/in/wlcs/Board.nsf/Public, but I don’t think the changes have been posted yet. Why can’t the text of all policy changes up for vote be listed on the agenda or made available on a handout for the public to review at the time of the meeting?
#3 – Are you planning to have Monsieur Ohlhaut replace Ross Sloat as Interim CFO? Does he have training or a background in finance? Are you going to post the CFO position and do a broad search?
The CFO position is not posted. Ross Sloat is currently our interim CFO. Steve Ohlhaut serves as a part time intern as assistant to the CFO in addition to his teaching duties. If the CFO position is posted, the qualifications and preferences for the position will be posted as well. Preferences for qualified applicants for a CFO position including the following: experience as a public school educator, an administrator’s license, experience in school budgeting and financing, and CFO certification from the Indiana School Business Officer’s Association.
I don’t understand why the CFO would need to have experience as a public school educator? Ross Sloat fits that description because he is the former superintendent of the Benton Community School Corporation with a Masters from Purdue in Learning Design and Technology, but my understanding is that he has no formal training in finance other than attending some continuing education classes offered by the Indiana Association of School Business Officials. The prior CFO, Tim Clary, was an experienced CPA with a degree in accounting, but left WLCSC after just 6 months (he is now the City Controller for Lafayette). The CFOs in other school districts like TSC, Carmel Clay, and Zionsville all have backgrounds in accounting, business administration, or finance. Each previously worked in a clerk or accounting role before becoming their school district’s CFO. Evansville appears to be searching for a new school district CFO (see the posting) and they list the qualifications as: “Bachelor’s degree in accounting or equivalent; MBA and/or CPA required. Five to ten years related experience and/or training. Previous supervisory experience required.” Other school districts don’t seem to view the CFO certification from the Indiana Association of School Business Officials as sufficient.
For background, the CFO/treasurer has changed several times over the past decade:
- Dawn E Williams was WLCSC treasurer for 25 years until 1/31/08
- Konstance L. Laws 2/1/08 – 2/17/10
- Michael D. Turner 2/18/10 – 6/30/10
- Ross Sloat 7/1/10 – 6/30/15
- Tim Clary 7/1/15 – 12/31/15
- Ross Sloat 1/1/16 – present
#4 – Could you give me a copy of the accounts payable document that was shared with the school board last night? I was excited to hear about the Forecast5 software that will be able to share financial documents with the community. Until it is up and running would you be willing to share the accounts payable document with the public at each school board meeting?
Requests for specific materials must be made through an APRA request. Depending on the requested information, it can take up to 30 days to respond to an APRA request. Attached is the form that must be completed. Regarding Forecast Five, it is a state-wide data analytical software that allows for additional financial comparisons between school districts. If you want more specifics about it, please contact Steve Ohlhaut at 765/269-4009 or Ross Sloat at 765/269-4005. You can find Forecast Five website at https://www.forecast5analytics.com/customers/k-12
I sent the school district an APRA request for the accounts payable document. I will plan on doing this each month. The financial documents in the school board packet are public records. I wish our school board would be willing to share these documents with the community rather than requiring requests for disclosure of public records.