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Guest commentary: To the residents of the R-P School District

Fri, Mar 29th, 2013
Posted in Peterson Commentary

Taylor Peterson

By Tayor Peterson, School Board Director, Peterson, MN

As a school board member, elected by you and to serve you, I feel it is my job to keep you up to date on what has gone on the past few months and what will be going on in the future relating to our school and our tax dollars that fund it.

The referendum on a new Pre-K through 5th grade facility is now behind us, with the residents of the district once again letting their opinion be known through defeat. But just because the most recent referendum is behind us does not mean that the school board and the administration are going to stop spending your hard earned tax dollars trying to push a new school onto you. At the last two monthly school board meetings the board has decided to spend approximately $23,000 on things needed to persuade you that we either need to gut and completely remodel the entire school or build a new facility. One item includes spending $19,500 on a “Comprehensive Educational Analysis & Facility Engineering Analysis” that will basically be telling you what ATS & R (this was not put out for bids either) thinks is wrong with the current facilities, how much it will cost to repair it, and prioritize each item to fix based upon its importance (All voted for this with the exception of myself). The second item we have approved is the hiring of a demographer (This was a 4-3 vote with John Linder, Valerie Howe and me voting “nay.”). The purpose of this is to tell us the projected birth and death rates and relate those to enrollment. As most of you know, the enrollment here has stayed fairly level with no significant gains or losses. This demographic study comes at a cost of $3,600.

Before the most recent board meeting I had contacted Mr. Ehler and asked for any and all documents relating to the amount of money that has been spent on making a new school a reality. The first time I asked I was essentially ignored, the second time I asked and was told that I would receive the documents “at the next board meeting.” What I received was a small spreadsheet containing the names of the five companies that have done work related to the referendum for the years 2008-2013, along with the totals paid to each company per year. Below are the five companies along with what was paid to them each year starting in 2008.

ATS & R- This is the architectural firm. For the 2011-2012 year they were paid $5,384.94. For the 2012-2013 year they received $32,396.61. In total they received $37,781.55.

ICS Consulting Inc.- For 2008-2009 they received $11,500. For 2009-2010 they received $7,335. For 2010-2011 they received $30,493.01. For 2011-2012 they received $12,975.38. For 2012-2013 they received $10,203.13. In total they received $72,156.52.

RCS Consulting- In 2011-2012 year they received $8,000. For the 2012-2013 year they received $3,250. In total they received $11,500.

Structural Service & Design Inc- They received a total of $2,500 for the 2011-2012 year.

Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney- They received $1,394.32 in the 2012-2013 year.

Hazel Reinhardt- (Demographer) will be receiving $3,600.

Referendum Expenses- $4,063.

Grand total, so far- $132,995.39.

What I did not receive, but also asked for, was what all this money got the taxpayers. I also never received anything pertaining to what was spent for all the trips to the Capital for lobbying, which I also asked for. So, this total is still missing a few dollars.

So, where did all this money come from? The New School Initiative Fund? Yes, but where did this account get money? Did it come out of thin air? No, it came out of the General Fund; from which I was told it hadn’t at the February board meeting. The board approved this back in the 2010-2011 year. It is legal to designate moneys from the General Fund for a new fund account, but think of all that could have been repaired and taken care of the past 6 years had that money been put into the General Maintenance account. Instead, the board and administration have chosen to spend your hard earned tax dollars on deceiving you.

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