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One Moment, Please... Taxpayers deserve full disclosure

Fri, Jan 17th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

I recently received a phone call from John McDonald, Superintendent for the Kingsland School District. He was urgently requesting to meet with me regarding some alleged misinformation published in a couple of articles that appeared in the Fillmore County Journal.

So, I scheduled to meet with Superintendent McDonald on Monday, January 13, 2014. As always, I am concerned with providing the most accurate information to the public.

During our meeting, Superintendent McDonald presented a number of documents pertaining to three possible scenarios on the table for discussion with respect to the future of a major capital investment for the Kingsland School District -- ranging from $7 million to $17 million.

While Fillmore County Journal reporter Barb Jeffers is assigned to cover the Kingsland School Board meetings, reporter Jackie Horsman requested the opportunity to write a more in-depth article pertaining to the concerns of residents living in the Wykoff area. With Jackie covering Wykoff City Council meetings while also residing in Wykoff, she has a more personal connection with the issue of possibly closing Kingsland’s Wykoff site and consolidating all resources into the Spring Valley location.

Below is what Superintendent McDonald presented verbatim with respect to the articles published on Monday, December 23, 2013 and Monday, December 30, 2013, both written by reporter Jackie Horsman, along with responses prepared by Superintendent John McDonald. And, Superintendent McDonald indicated that this information would be presented at the January Kingsland School Board meeting to clarify the alleged misinformation published in the Fillmore County Journal.

December 23, 2013 Article and Superintendent’s Response

“The committee was given a total of five options by the architectural firm, TSP, hired by the district to recommend facility use exploration. The first two options included making repairs at the Wykoff location including an option that would not implement a referendum, but instead would implement the use of capital facilities bonds or alternative facilities bonds. At a cost of $116,427 of operating capital funds over 10 years, this would be a tax-neutral choice. Alternative facilities bonds would mean taxes would be impacted. A $100,000 homestead would see $85.74 a year increase.” Quoted from the Fillmore County Journal article.

Response: “The deferred maintenance issues regarding the Wykoff building’s mechanical and electrical system were first studied by the engineering firm ESG and all district then hired TSP to review their findings and create a master list of capital facilities bonds and alternative facilities bonds to be sold. Using $116,427 of the District’s funds currently designated for operating capital generates $938,454 of operating proceeds. Using alternative facilities bonds as well would provide $6,066,782 of project proceeds for a project total of $7,005,236. The tax impact of both methods of borrowing would be an estimated of $85.74 on a $100,000 home.” Prepared by Superintendent John McDonald.

“Another option presented would require a referendum at $6,066,782 with a tax implication of voter approved bonds at $64.60 and alternative facilities bonds at $85.60, totaling $150.34 annually on a $100,000 homestead. While the first option is for the middle school location only, the second would encompass both the Wykoff and Spring Valley sites.” Quote from the Fillmore County Journal article.

Response: “$6,066,782 is the deferred maintenance that does not require a vote. What was missed was the voter approved portion of the project totaling $4,538,841 of educational enhancements at both sites ($1,550,246 at Spring Valley and $1,622,207 at Wykoff) and deferred maintenance at Spring Valley ($427,934). The total for that option was $10,605,623 to be financed over 10 years which led to the $150.34 tax impact on a $100,000 home.” Prepared by Superintendent John McDonald.

December 30, 2013 Article and Supintendent’s Response

“McDonald maintains there are other substantial improvements needed at the Wykoff site as well that could cost millions of dollars, although it should be noted that the engineering company hired by the district gave an option for well under one million dollars for just the Wykoff Middle School to be repaired that would not require a referendum.” Quoted from Fillmore County Journal article.

Response: “The only number on the spreadsheet under a million dollars is the capital facilities bond of $938,454 which is the district’s dollars that needs to be added to the deferred maintenance of $6,066,782 for a total of $7,005,236 just to make structural improvements at Wykoff. To meet the 7 million dollar figure, the District needs to use approximately 60 percent of their annual capital dollars for the next 10 years. The $938,454 was not stand alone number.” Prepared by Superintendent John McDonald.

“When asked to explain how $6 or $7 million would have more of a tax impact than $12 to $17 million, McDonald said the $6 or $7 million projected did not include educational enhancements and the funding mechanisms would differ. This is contrary to what has been previously stated at the Kingsland school board meetings, as that option was listed as including academic enhancements.” Quoted from the Fillmore County Journal article.

Response: “The comparison point being referred to from the question above was the $10,605,623 (deferred maintenance and education improvements at both the School sites) plan versus a $12MM to $17MM single campus plan. The tax impact of the $10.6MM plan is spread over 10 years. The tax impact of the aforementioned larger plans would be spread over 20 years and utilize the operational savings to offset some tax payer impact.” Prepared by Superintendent John McDonald.

“To fix one site or both sites would require a referendum, according to McDonald. This statement does conflict with earlier reports and school board minutes, as there was an option given to make improvements to one site that would not require a referendum.” Quote from Fillmore County Journal article.

Response: “The statement is true but was taken out of context. The comment was made in regards to our District’s vision “Kingsland Public Schools is committed to an academically rich environment through the integration of 21st Century skills. To move in this direction would require educational enhancements at one or both sites which would require a referendum vote.” Prepared by Superintendent John McDonald.

My Response?

At first, I was concerned about the possible bias of a reporter too close to the situation. Jackie’s concerns were relevant, but maybe they belonged on the Commentary pages of our newspaper.

And, then, after a night of rest, retrospect, and conversation with my team, we concluded that the Kingsland School Board and Superintendent John McDonald were missing the boat on the greatest cause for confusion and possibly misinformation.

When I was in McDonald’s office, I told him that my memory wasn’t very good so I would like to have copies of all of the information we discussed during that meeting. While he cited all of the figures from the three scenarios presented before the Kingsland School Board dated June 23, 2013, I couldn’t possibly recall all of those costs and their associations.

So, I asked McDonald if I could have copies of these documents for reference as I reviewed the situation with respect to our alleged inaccurate reporting. He said he couldn’t release that information. But, after I kept requesting the release of these documents, and even suggesting that these documents be made available to the public in the most accessible manner, McDonald said he would need to speak with the chairperson of the Kingsland School Board, Doug Plaehn, in order to get his approval for release of these documents.

Later, on Tuesday afternoon, a stripped down version of what I saw in our meeting was e-mailed to me for review. So, all of the documents were not made available.

And, here is the real issue at hand.

Yes, there’s definitely a contentious situation developing between some Wykoff residents and the Kingsland School District regarding the future of the Wykoff school site.

This is nothing new, but it is certainly a reason for concern by those affected.

Rushford and Peterson went through this process many moons ago. And, while my father can remember when Fountain joined Preston to become Blue Jays, that was only the beginning. Later, they would combine with the Harmony Cardinals to someday become the Falcons. It will take generations to forget and forgive.

So, Fillmore County is not foreign to the consolidation of school districts.

Yes, the Wykoff WyKats have lost their identity to Knighthood, and now they are at risk of losing their school. Regardless of finances, this is an emotionally charged issue. It always is.

And, thus, it needs to be handled delicately.

When I asked Superintendent McDonald specifics regarding the documents presented before me, this is what I learned. “What are the Contingency Costs ($182,175) and Development Costs ($750,561) that total $932,736, which is roughly 13.3 percent of the total cost of SCENARIO ONE?” McDonald’s response was less than satisfactory. He said that he didn’t know exactly, but this is one of those things that they need to figure out as they go through this process. Furthermore, McDonald said that the consultants indicated that this was a cost associated with the project.

OK, wait a second. I own a business. If I get a bid on a project, I ask questions so I understand what I am paying for with a project. I do the same thing with my home with any contractors. So, when you can’t tell me what constitutes over $900,000 in expense of a project, I have a concern. Especially, when it has to do with our taxpayer dollars.

Then, I pointed out my assessment of Kingsland’s declining enrollment figures, falling the fastest of any school district in Fillmore County, and I asked McDonald how many students enrolled in the Kingsland School District came from Wykoff. At a total of 76 students, the figure came to about 15 percent of the total student enrollment. So, I asked how many students was Kingsland losing to open enrollment, and McDonald said he didn’t know. Furthermore, I begged the rhetorical question about how many students Kingsland was going to lose to Chatfield, Lanesboro and Fillmore Central if they consolidated all operations to Spring Valley. These are some of the many questions the Kingsland School Board and taxpayers need to be answering as they navigate all scenarios. Declining enrollment means less income to support operating expenses.

To sum it up, there was a big mistake made here, and it relates to the release of information to the public.

If the Kingsland School Board and Superintendent John McDonald are presenting information at the monthly school board meetings during an agenda item related to the possibility of a project that could cost taxpayers a range of $7 million to $17 million, the public deserves to learn about details. And, the sooner the better.

In accordance with the Minnesota Open Meeting Law, the statutory language reads as follows:

“Based on the Minnesota Open Meeting Law, all meetings, including executive sessions, must be open to the public of the governing body of a school district however organized.” Minn. Stat. 13D.01, subd. 1.

In addition, “in any meeting which must be open to the public, at least one copy of any printed materials relating to the agenda items of the meeting prepared or distributed by or at the direction of the governing body or its employees and distributed at the meeting to all members of the governing body; distributed before the meeting to all members; or available in the meeting room to all members; shall be available in the meeting room for inspection by the public while the governing body considers their subject matter. An exception to this provision is if the materials are classified nonpublic based on a statutory exception.” Minn. Stat. 13D.01, subd. 6.

So, if the board members are receiving this information, but it is not being made available to the public, then guess what folks...we have a violation of the Minnesota Open Meeting Law.

A Lesson to be Learned

When any public body is spending taxpayer dollars, they need to be as accessible to the public as possible about all financial implications. The Kingsland School District is talking about an investment of $7 million to $17 million. That’s quite a bit of money in my world.

While McDonald expressed to me his concerns with releasing these figures due to inflation and how the numbers would change over time, that becomes a point to make when facilitating a project of this magnitude. Inflation will impact delayed decisions.

But, guarding information from the public only underscores the reason for resistance from constituents. And, this is why I am publishing the stripped down version of what I received from Superintendent John McDonald. The public has a right to know.

With our newspaper covering every city council, every school board and every county board meeting in Fillmore County, there’s no reason for the public not to know what’s happening in their towns, school districts or county. With that said, there’s also no reason that each of these government bodies can’t take the time to publish items on their websites, such as all relevant materials made available at meetings. Accessibility is easier today than ever before.

Click here for the above mentioned documents


Your comment submission is also an acknowledgement that this information may be reprinted in other formats such as the newspaper.


12:15:14, Jan 19th 2014

H schmdt says:
Right on, thanks keep the facts coming


9:02:22, Jan 21st 2014

anight says:
Facilities committee meetings no longer include teachers. Staff no longer has any idea what he is planning.


11:29:10, Jan 21st 2014

svnative says:
I commend Miss Horsman for revealing truths to the public! those same figures were also back in your competitor's paper in november from when they covered the school board meeting when the 5 options were given. Since then they have given eveyone different numbers so you are right! the problem is they don't communicate to the public and they are public elected. It is the superintendent and bad school board members who don't stand up and say it is wrong. That is why they are there! To be the voice of the distircit! I live in spring valley and trust me when I say this is not just a wykoff problem. We are all mad.


2:19:16, Jan 21st 2014

MNKelly says:
There is just too much comment sense in this article for Kingsland Administration to understand, in my opinion. As seems to be the typical for Kingsland, they don't want the public to know all the facts, they want the taxpayers to just go along with them and don't ask any questions. Anyone who speaks out against Kingsland administration is considered a trouble maker. They want the taxpayers to drink their kool-aid and shut up. I'm so glad that Jackie had the backbone to type the truth in her article and so great to see that she is being backed up after reviewing FACTS...FACTS are not something Kingsland administration seems to be too keen on. Declining enrollment at Kingsland has been an issue for years and yet administration turns a blind eye. We vote the school board in, we should be able to have a vote of no confidence and get them out. The unfortunate thing is that the superintendent has ultimate power, even over the school board president, unless I was lied to several years ago, and we can't just vote him out. Are we really ok letting people who can't answer simple questions about what nearly a million dollars is going toward handling any of our districts business? And you are ok with listening to someone who is trying to quiet the truth?
Taxpayers in the Kingsland School District need to be sure they are educating themselves on the true facts, not the little nibbles of half truths the superintendent and the school board want to feed us.


7:03:21, Jan 21st 2014

aknight says:
I think what people are forgetting here is that this is a COMMENTARY - basically Mr. Sethre's point of view and as he stated, Ms. Horsman's probably belonged in the commentary section as well. I have no idea why Mr. Sethre would want to cause unneeded drama for any school district. I cannot comment as to what as going on as I have not been to a school board meeting to hear the facts, which I am assuming none of you commenting on here have either. Going strictly by what is published in newspapers is going to get you nowhere other than misinformed. As the old saying goes - there are 2 sides to every story. Quiet honestly, after reading the Journal for the past few months, my edition is going straight to the garbage as Mr. Sethre, that is exactly where your paper belongs.


11:56:31, Jan 21st 2014



12:25:43, Jan 22nd 2014

Cloud 9 says:
why is everyone so quick to take sides, point fingers, and become nasty? That is the problem with Spring Valley. The facts need to come out-not be ignored, so everyone can make a decision based on them. I personally have had nothing but problems with the school, from teachers, principals, administrators, to coaches. No one seems to talk to each other, and getting a direct answer, without finger-pointing from them is all but impossible. I believe sometimes too much education can go to your head, causing them to lose their common sense, and sense of doing right by themselves, and the communities involved. Reminds me a little of the Federal Government we are forced to deal with lately. And I do not like it, nobody does. We are fed up. Get your act together, and tell us what is going on. I am glad the paper is raising these questions-cuz no-one is listening to us. With declining enrollment, and lack of communication escalating-they will never get enough votes to pass a referendum. This is just How I feel and have been treated by the system. I have no respect for them or the school board. It is very sad. I am sure I will get some haters. Simply don't care. Just feels good to finally say how I feel.I


11:20:24, Jan 22nd 2014

MNKelly says:
@AKnight, I believe the reason Mr. Sethre wrote this commentary was because Mr. McDonald accused one fo Mr. Sethre's reporter of report false information and as it turns out, she didn't and Mr. Sethre wanted to make that clear. How is that causing drama for the school district? I would consider Mr. McDonald's lack of telling the truth, not providing actual numbers, not wanting to answer specific questions and making a false accusation against a reporter is where the drama started...put the blame where it belongs, Kingsland Administration. No one holds them accountable for their words or actions and I'm glad to see the Mr. Sethre has the guts to stand up to the inconsistencies in Mr. McDonald's words. I realize the truth is not what everyone wants to see so I understand why you will be throwing away your copy of the Journal, ignorance is bliss or so I've heard.


12:07:55, Jan 22nd 2014

valleygirl says:
I find it interesting Cloud9, that in your first sentence you state " Why is everyone so quick to take sides, point fingers, and become nasty" when you pretty much did the same thing in your comments.

I would love to know where many of you were in the fall of 2012 when we had 3 open positions for the school board and only 2 people running. The third elected member that year came from write in votes. If there is a problem with the Kingsland School district it is that we have a lot of people wiling to make nasty comments and very few willing to step up to the plate, make the decisions and do the work.

In the last referendum the #'s were presented to the public. I believe they will this time as well. Could it be that they just don't have all of the #'s in yet, and are still working things out? I have loved Superintendent John McDonald and I think he has done a LOT of good for Kingsland School District including the college in the schools classes, keeping us moving forward with new technology, and generally keeping as many programs running as we can with yes, declining enrollment. As far as the school board goes, these people are our neighbors, friends and relatives. They have children and grand children that attend our schools and are taxpayers themselves. Do you really think they are trying to sabotage our school? Of course not - they want it to succeed more than anyone- their names are out there and it is their butts on the line. If you would like change then put your butt on the line and run for school board, or at least attend meetings and make yourself heard - or at the very least get yourselves up from the computer and volunteer in our schools. There is a great "watchdogs" program that is starting. Get yourselves involved and find out for yourself what is really going on in the schools.


1:34:38, Jan 22nd 2014

No BS says:
Could it be that they just don't have all of the #'s in yet, and are still working things out?

Doubtful... if something doesn't make sense, it's not true! OVERRULED!


1:47:57, Jan 22nd 2014

valleywoman says:
I think valleygirl is missing the point here. The point is the referendum will be shoved down the throats of Kingsland because they already decided to go to one site. We will have no choice now but to pass a referendum because they are closing one site. Who cares if they share numbers AFTER the fact?? It should be shared before. They should not have the right to make that decision BEHIND CLOSED DOORS. The public should be able to weigh in on those things. I think the board does their best but is bullied by the superintendent. And yes, I have been to many meetings so I feel comfortable saying that. The best and easiest thing to do would be for the board to recant their decision to go to one site. If they really want to try again then do it the right way and involve the public. That decision came from literally nowhere. No talk at any school board meetings about it until there was a vote. Hello?? Closed door meetings indeed. The superintendent works for the board, the board does not work for the superintendent. We need more people with backbone to stand up and make that point.
As for Horseman's article being commentary, I read it and thought it was factual and not opinion. Commentaries are generally opinion. She put the good, bad and ugly in there. It sounds to me like the superintendent is basically saying YES that is true but she didn't sugar coat it like I wanted her to. HA good for YOU MS HORSEMAN! And good for you Fillmore County Journal, some reporting worthy of the real deal!


1:49:09, Jan 22nd 2014

NO BS2 says:
If they don't have the numbers, they shouldnt be makeing a decision to close a school. Just sayin.


2:48:50, Jan 22nd 2014

valleygirl says:
My comment was directed less at the article and more at the comments being made by many of the people here on this site. It is easy to sit behind a computer and type nasty things such as Kingsland administration doesn't have common sense, "bad school board members", etc. There are far fewer people who are willing to run for the office and take responsibility - especially when friends and neighbors act like this.

I believe Jackie was honest in her article and I also believe Super Intendant McDonald felt he was trying to correct information he felt was inaccurate. I don't think any of the people involved in the articles acted maliciously or with any sort of intent to deceive and yes, I do believe the #'s will be presented eventually. I do not think any referendum is going to be "shoved down our throats". Each of us has the opportunity to cast a vote either way and referendums have certainly been defeated in the past. In regards to shutting down the school I believe if enough people show up at school board meetings and APPROPRIATELY share their displeasure in this decision, then that too can be changed. However, as I said before, someone is going to have to get up from behind their computer and take action. So instead of typing all of the nastiness here maybe one of you should start organizing with like minded people and get yourselves on the school board agenda.


4:55:37, Jan 22nd 2014

valleywoman says:
valleygirl - The decision to close the middle school has already been made. What that means is there HAS to be a referendum passed to prepare the other building for that. Therefore, it will be shoved down our throats. You are missing the master plan here. I think you are doing a great job at being open and honest and conveying your thoughts. But please realize that the wool is getting pulled over our eyes. They should have tried to get a referendum first, then decide to close a building. But they did not. They did the opposite so our choices would be less.


5:43:33, Jan 22nd 2014

kingslandparent says:
@valleygirl - AMEN!!!!! All of you are so quick to judge and criticize the decisions others make when you have no clue/background whatsoever other than what you have read in the paper. Every 2 years there are 3 terms up on the school board so I am assuming you know-it-alls will be filing for those positions, but I highly doubt any of you are willing to step up to the plate. As for those of you saying how horrible Kingsland is, there are problems in every single school. This administration and school board have brought some amazing programs into our school. We have had nothing but positive experiences in our school. For the last referendum, plenty of information was given. A decision has to be made FIRST before they can go out and educate the public on what the referendum is. Is the school in Wykoff going to close - who knows. But really, get yourself more educated than reading the paper and attend a board meeting and see what is really being discussed.


9:23:15, Jan 22nd 2014

valleywoman says:
I didn't see anyone bashing on the Kingsland school . Personally I agree that Kingsland has done some good things educationally and it is a good learning place for our kids. This is a separate issue though and doesnt have anything to do with education. I also agree people should go to meetings and educate themselves or speak up to be heard. I went to the meeting tonight and no one said a word but they sure liked to complain before and after the meeting. I agree with alot your saying. But this issue is about closing a school down, spending money we don't have or need to spend for things that don't have to do with education. As far as going to meetings goes, you can go to meetings and still not know what is going on. Like the closing of a school, never discussed at any meetings I went to and it was never in the minutes of the meetings I didn't make it to. Nothing was said until they voted. THAT IS WRONG and exactly the kind of thing Jason Sethre mentions in his commentary. Closed door meetings are illegal. So good programs implemented or not, they still have to follow the rules and the law. Personally I'm not forgiving them not doing that because they have made some good choices along the way too. If it is wrong it is wrong no matter what other good things they have done.


10:37:12, Jan 22nd 2014

Jason Sethre, Publisher of Fillmore County Journal says:
Thanks to all who have shared their thoughts on this issue.

I want to make everyone involved in this conversation aware that I did not take this situation lightly.

I had two attorneys review this issue and my commentary (at our newspapers' expense, revealing the seriousness of this issue). While attempting to contact Mark Anfinson, Minnesota Newspaper Association legal support, I also asked a local attorney to review all matters relating to this issue. And, after the local attorney confirmed violations of the Minnesota Open Meeting Law, along with attorney Mark Anfinson (specializing in all newspaper-related legal matters), I felt confident in addressing the issue of the school district not providing relevant materials for public view and access at school board meetings. This is a state law, consistent with state laws all throughout our great nation.

In addition, as stated by both attorneys, public record data accessibility laws require schools to make documents available to the public for review even if you are unable to attend a publicly-held meeting. So, anyone can walk into the school and request to see documents like the 2014 approved budget, the bond referendum documents shared with school board members, and other similar information. However, understandably, confidential documents such as personnel matters are not always required to be made available to the public.

So, I did not take this issue lightly.

I did attend tonight's Kingsland School Board meeting, and I have some additional thoughts to add to this commentary. I believe technology is being used to the extent that people may not realize they are under-communicating. All documents are displayed on a screen, and all board members are viewing items on their tablets along with the Superintendent reviewing documents on his laptop, but no printed documents are presented at the meeting for public access other than the agenda.

As stated in my commentary, “in any meeting which must be open to the public, at least one copy of any printed materials relating to the agenda items of the meeting prepared or distributed by or at the direction of the governing body or its employees and distributed at the meeting to all members of the governing body; distributed before the meeting to all members; or available in the meeting room to all members; shall be available in the meeting room for inspection by the public while the governing body considers their subject matter. An exception to this provision is if the materials are classified nonpublic based on a statutory exception.” Minn. Stat. 13D.01, subd. 6.

So, the Kingsland School Board simply needs to print one copy of every item provided to school board members and make it available to the public. This includes a copy of every document referenced during the meeting. If they are displaying it on the screen, there is no reason they can't print one copy and make it available for the public. If it was available tonight, I didn't see it. In addition, it would be great if they could post all of those documents on their website following each meeting. Nobody ever complains about over-communication.

Next, they need to hold a series of public meetings in Wykoff to explain the process, options and economics, and ask for public input. This won't be easy, and there will be people showing up to complain yet providing no solution for the economic woes of the district. But, clarity will prevail.

Furthermore, I can see that the members of the Kingsland School Board really do care about serving the people of their district. Serving on any school board is a thankless job, so they do deserve accolades for taking time away from their families and busy lives to sit in many meetings and vote on important issues throughout their term. They are making a sacrifice, and it is easy for "backseat drivers" to ridicule their decisions from the comfort of their couch.

And, while inclement weather may have been a factor, I was surprised at the low turnout for tonight's school board meeting. Maybe this was more than usual, but it wasn't standing room only at the meeting -- like I kind of expected. As someone stated in this thread of comments, if you have concerns then maybe you should get involved and run for a school board position. Become a part of the solution.

As someone else stated in this thread of comments, the issue here has nothing to do with the quality of education provided by the Kingsland School District. They are doing a great job, and have introduced a lot of great new programs -- just like other schools in our coverage area. The issue relates to communication with the public and following the Minnesota Open Meeting Law.

I hope my commentary offers some feedback to Kingsland school board members and Superintendent John McDonald that will help them garner the trust and confidence of their taxpayers, their voters, their shareholders.

Jason Sethre
Fillmore County Journal


6:39:17, Jan 23rd 2014

kingslandparent says:
@valleywoman - My parents taught me a long time ago not to criticize the decisions of others unless I know all sides. Accusing the school board of having illegal meetings is absolutely wrong when you have no idea. I have read in the Tribune about study sessions they have had. Maybe they don't have to keep minutes of those??? And as @valleygirl points out, our board members are our neighbors, friends and relatives who have children and grandchildren who go to this school - do you really think they are going to do anything to sabotage our school? Do you also really think they are going to do something illegal for a thankless job like being on a school board? @valleywoman - I expect to see your name on the next school board election ballot and quite honestly the names of all of you bashing our school board and what they do. You won't see mine on there as I have no desire to be in a position like that and am thankful we do have people who are willing to step up to the plate to make these decisions.

Mr. Sethre - I certainly hope you have proof to go along with these accusations you are throwing out regarding violating laws. Have you ever been at a board meeting in the past? Did you ask tonight if there was any documentation? A friend of mine went to a board meeting a couple of months ago and told me the only people who attended were a couple of teachers, our principals and athletic director. So it seems to me, people really don't care. We have far too many backseat drivers ridiculing the decisions of others and quite honestly, that is the problem with our society. It doesn't matter if it is a city council, county board, school board or church council - everyone has all of the answers but won't step up to the plate and run for office.

As I said - I certainly hope to see more names on the ballot for the next school board election. Like @valleygirl stated, there were 3 open positions for the last election with only 2 people filing and the 3rd position being filled by write-in votes. Where were all of you know-it-alls then?


7:31:25, Jan 23rd 2014

Jason Sethre, Publisher of Fillmore County Journal says:
@kingslandparent -- I would never go out on a limb and make an accusation unless I could substantiate it. That's also why I went to the expense of getting two attorneys involved.

This all started when Superintendent John McDonald accused our newspaper of misinformation published in two articles. When I met with him on Monday, January 13, and he showed me all of the documentation to substantiate the misinformation published in our newspaper, I asked him for copies of those documents so I could refer to all three bond referendum scenarios ranging from $7 million to $17 million. How was I to address the issue without having copies of the information we were accused of inaccurately reporting to the public? Isn't that a reasonable request?

He told me that he couldn't release that information, and pulled the documents back from me. So, we are being accused of publishing inaccurate information, yet the Superintendent won't release the figures to myself, our newspaper or the public? This is a matter of public record. Any citizen is entitled to have access to this information.

I asked Superintendent McDonald if this information was made available to our reporters and to the public, and he said it had only been made available to the school board members but displayed on the screen during school board meetings.

McDonald said that there was concern about releasing this information to the public because the numbers would change. Understandably, the cost of any construction project will go up with a delayed commitment. And, for that reason, it is important to get that information out there early and often. A year later, you can update the figures and show what percent of cost increase occurred on re-evaluating that project. Showing a timeline of bids and increased costs based on delayed decisions and commitments helps taxpayers understand that the longer they wait, the more it will cost them in the long run. But, guarding this information creates public misinformation and unnecessary mistrust, and it does violate the Minnesota Open Meeting Law with respect to making relevant materials available at public meetings.

When I spoke with Superintendent McDonald on January 13, 2014, and asked for copies of the bond referendum documents he was showing me to illustrate his points of inaccuracy in reporting, if he would have openly sent me on my way with the documents I requested, then we probably wouldn't be discussing this issue right now.

Instead, he said he would need to check with the chairperson of the school board to see if he could release this information. And, while there were more than 12 documents presented before me at my meeting with McDonald, he only e-mailed me two documents. And, the first document showing the cost of each scenario along with a short description had an additional column showing the cost to taxpayers without the Wykoff site. He said he would remove that information, if he was granted permission to e-mail it to me. And, he did. So, what I received was not the full version of what was presented during our meeting.

When I attended the meeting last night, I asked our reporter Barb Jeffers, who has been covering the Kingsland School Board meetings for more than a year, she said that last night was the first time she had ever seen the June 23, 2013 document displayed on the screen during a school board meeting.

How are we supposed to report as accurately as possible on this information if it is not extremely accessible? And, yet, we are accused of inaccuracy?

Maybe the issue here isn't with the school board, but more so with Superintendent John McDonald. But, ultimately, the Superintendent reports to the school board.

The solution to the problem is really simple. Make information as accessible as possible.

Jason Sethre
Fillmore County Journal


9:41:43, Jan 23rd 2014

kingslandparent says:
Mr. Sethre - Along with my parents teaching me not to judge the decisions of others unless I know all of the facts, they also taught me there are 2 sides to every story. We all know any conversation held by 2 people is not interpreted the same way. Will Superintendent McDonald share his side? I guess that remains to be seen, but I would assume he would avoid doing so in order to avoid stirring the pot any more.


3:03:42, Jan 23rd 2014

David Mount says:
Good job


10:19:20, Jan 24th 2014

KingslandGrad95 says:
@kingsland parent You might call the Superintendent withholding papers not wanting to stir the pot anymore. That might be the case. But, to myself and a bunch of other people, it looks like he has something to hide. I graduated from Kingsland in 1995 and I supported the referendum that built the elementary school at the high school site as the elementary school needed to addressed. I, however, will not support the proposed project to go to one site. From day 1 of the consolidation talks the administration at the time promoted heavily how the middle school concept is the best way to deal with the educational and behavioral needs of the pre-teens and early teen students. Why does the current administration want to do away with the middle school? Why should the taxpayers, primarily farmers that own land, have to pony-up more money when the referendum to build the elementary school isn't even paid off and there are 2 perfectly good gymnasiums in Wykoff, as that's what the majority of the plan calls for? I've talked with others from Wykoff, yes I'm a Wykoff supporter, and they've commented to me "if parents can open enroll their kids to other schools, why can't the farmers open enroll their property taxes to other school districts." All we see from the figures is the proposed increase in the homeowners property taxes, but we never see the proposed increases in the farmers property taxes, which are higher than those on a $100,000 house.


12:06:46, Jan 24th 2014

Valley Taxpayer says:
This whole process seems a little mysterious and I am glad it is being discussed. It seems like it started when someone got the fiance of an ex school employee to make up these plans. Was that a contract? Was it bid out? Did other people get a chance to look around and make plans? Who did he talk to besides Mr. McDonald? Then there were committees with lots of people who don't pay taxes here and administrators who don't even live here in the district picking choices. Now there are pictures on the wall, but no paper copies. Has the data behind all the admin's statements been proven? We hear about 21st century learning spaces, but the pictures show gyms and auditoriums and offices and a bus garage. Those have all been around for hundreds of years. What do the student spaces down in the locker rooms areas look like? Don't know. Can't ever study a paper copy. Yes, you can go to meetings. You can talk, but they won't answer you there. Probably why so few come.

Also, wanna bet these well-written anonymous responses saying everything is perfect are Mr. McDonald or a board member?? I think board members try hard. Hope they keep remembering all the people they represent.


9:17:24, Jan 24th 2014 says:
Although I am not a resident of the area and not directly affected by anything to do with the Kingsland School District, as a matter of principal it bothers me that the public meeting laws were not followed. I commend you for bringing this to the attention of the public. Honesty and being forthright are always the best policy. Thank you.


6:13:38, Jan 27th 2014

kingslandsupporter says:
I support kingsland and what they have done in the past few years but I don't support this. I contacted some of the school board members and a one of them talked out of the other side of there mouth and blamed the superintendent for all of it. The others I talked to said they did not want to close the middle school but felt pressured. I did not talk to all but I did talk to most. I was also told that if a referendum doesnt pass the superintendent will push to move the kids to the one site anyway and then shame the district into overcrowding so they have to pass a referendum the next time around. I was told that by a school board member. I am very upset that not one of those school board members did anything to overturn the decision of one sight at the last meeting. So when whoever it is on here says they work hard and have no motive that makes me think you are wrong and they must have some motive if they can tell me that and then turn around and sit quietly. Its hard to stand up sometimes and i think every one of them acted cowardly. They got no business running for public offices if they are just going to let someone walk all over them. I say we all start calling them and telling them our opinion and ask to please not close our middle school.


6:56:46, Jan 28th 2014

SV. Taxpayer. says:
There is an upcoming facility meeting on Thursday at 5:30 in the District Conference room
. It would be nice to see some of you there.


7:35:50, Jan 29th 2014

MNKelly says:
Was the meeting where Mr. McDonald and the school board chose to close the middle school in Wykoff illegal per the open meeting law or any other meeting law? If so, does that mean the vote/decision is null & void? For those planning to go to any meetings and speak out against this, be very careful, your child/children will then be a target of administration, speaking from experience. When I refer to "administration", I do not include the school board and I believe they are sheep following their herder (Mr. McDonald), unfortunate.


2:09:33, Jan 29th 2014

valleygirl says:
1.) The school board, under certain circumstances, is allowed to hold closed meetings.
2.) The alleged violation of the open meeting law in this case is due to the lack of documents provided to this newspaper. The publisher of this newspaper indicates that he was only provided partial documentation. The documents attached to the original commentary (located above) are the same that were provided for public viewing at the last school board meeting. The publisher’s last criticism was that even though this information was able to be viewed by the public on a big screen at the last school board meeting, in his opinion “the Kingsland School Board simply needs to print one copy of every item provided to school board members and make it available to the public. This includes a copy of every document referenced during the meeting. If they are displaying it on the screen, there is no reason they can't print one copy and make it available for the public. If it was available tonight, I didn't see it.” This attachment has also been viewable in other media.
3.) As you can see, should you choose to look at the attachments, there are five possible scenarios for improvements to be made to school district facilities. Two of these options include keeping the middle school open and improving that building. The last three options involve closing the middle school and making substantial improvements to the Spring Valley site. You should also note when viewing the documents that on the second page above the 2,3,4,5 scenarios it says “assuming voter- approved referendum”

The information I made available at #1 is just so that some of you can stop thinking and writing about how they can’t have closed meetings. I assure you, under certain circumstances, they can.

Did Superintendent McDonald withhold certain documents from the publisher of this newspaper? Who knows? I have a feeling the truth lies somewhere in the middle with neither side being entirely right or wrong. As far as I have personally seen, I found no violation of the open meeting law. Each item presented to the school board at the last meeting was publicly displayed as well. Could the district provide printed copies of the meetings agenda along with attachments at the meeting? Sure. How many should they print? 5, 10, 20, 30? Hard telling how many people are going to be at the meeting that want the information, but judging from the 3-5 people that were there… probably not many. For your information the agenda, meeting minutes, dates and times are posted on the Kingsland website as well. In my opinion, requesting printed documents is just being a bit picky.

I was happy to have attended the meeting. I actually learned a lot. Being able to listen to the explanation of certain figures in the spread sheets made everything more clear. Even though the board did vote to close the Wykoff school, that doesn’t mean it is a completely firm, set in stone, decision. As you can see from the 5 scenarios the board is reviewing, the Wykoff school is still very much a consideration. However, in order to keep this school open the board is going to have to hear from community residents that closing the school is not an option. NO one got up to speak at the last meeting, and besides a few people who have publicly made their opinion known, a couple articles in the news papers from concerned citizens; all in all there is very little public outrage about the school closing. Whispered comments to family and comments here or on other social media sites do not get your opinion where it needs to be. The school board wants to hear from you. They want your opinion. They don’t want to be left alone in this decision with their communities angry at them. I said it before, and I will say it again. Go to the meeting and make yourself heard. Typing comments on here is not going to do the job. You can say they won’t listen, but in reality that is just laziness on your part. They will listen, even if they don’t agree with you, but in the end if you don’t stand up and speak out you have no one to blame but yourself.

That all being said, after attending the last board meeting, I am much more open to one of the proposed referendums, BUT I do want to see more information on tax impact for area farmers and businesses as well. I believe, as in the last referendum, that information will be made available to us soon. The board members are going to want to view that information as well. At least four of the board members come from or are apart of local farm families. They, I am sure, are concerned with this financial impact as well. Having 5 possible scenarios should be considered a good thing. Five different options to look at. Everyone just needs to keep their mind open a little bit. Go to a meeting, listen to what is said, ask questions, address the board if you need to.

To the person who thinks I am McDonald or one of the board members, nice try. I am in fact not even employed with the Kingsland district. I personally know McDonald will help tutor struggling students who go to him for help, and am pleased with the things he has brought to our district. I am certainly not going to condemn him for something printed in the newspaper when I have no personal knowledge of what actually took place. I am a female tax payer. I own property that will be taxed just like you. My children are grown and won’t benefit from any technological advances or new buildings, but I do believe as a school and as a community we all will.


2:11:21, Jan 29th 2014

KingslandGrad95 says:
MNKelly, there has been no direct vote to close the middle school, yet. Just informational meetings as far as the direction of the district. I think it's pretty clear that is Mr. MacDonald's eventual goal. I think he forgets that the School Board is technically his boss and that the taxpayers he's trying stick another $17 million referendum with are the ones that pay his salary.


9:22:35, Jan 30th 2014

valleygirl says:
For your information the study and discussion facilities meeting was last night @ 5:30. This was announced at the last school board meeting and was published as well. It was very informative and if the board should decide to have another informational meeting, I suggest you attend. Last night there were two members of the public (including myself) at the meeting and one member of the press.


10:56:56, Jan 30th 2014

Jason Sethre, Publisher of Fillmore County Journal says:
@valleygirl -- I am glad you brought up the concerns with sharing information regarding the tax implications on farmland and businesses. When I met with McDonald on January 13, 2014, among the dozen documents he showed me were exactly what you are requesting. He showed me documents of how each scenario would impact residential properties at values of $100,000 and greater. Then, he showed me documents for commercial and farmland properties. But, when I asked for copies of all of those documents, he said he couldn't give them to me, and he'd have to speak with the chairperson of the school board to get approval to send me two of the documents -- of which were published in the January 20, 2014 issue of the Fillmore County Journal. And, the primary document, showing all three scenarios (the third scenario has three subdivided options), descriptions and costs, was stripped of information that appeared in the documents he showed me in his office. We're not talking about confidential personnel matters here. We're talking about proposed bond referendum information. Any citizen is entitled to have access to this information, as stated by both attorneys involved in my decision to publish this commentary.

Let's keep in mind that these bond referendum documents are dated June 23, 2013. That was seven months ago, yet people are still wondering how their taxes would be impacted by each scenario? How many people have been allowed to see all of these documents relating to information that could impact their taxes?

Wouldn't it be great if we could publish a grid showing the impact of taxes for each scenario? The more information made available, the better off everyone will be as the Kingsland School District navigates this process.

Jason Sethre
Fillmore County Journal


3:43:41, Jan 30th 2014

MNKelly says:
@valleygirl, so you don't want us to believe what the newspaper has printed but you want us to believe your comments? I'm curious as to why Mr. McDonald hasn't put anything in the paper to prove all the misinformation that the paper has included? Could it be cuz the information is accurate? I have voiced my concerns to school board members, I will NOT attend and speak out in a meeting, my kid doesn't need anymore reasons to be singled out by the principle and/or superintendent. I have learned my lesson, when I make the administrators mad, they aren't man enough to talk to me, they punish my child.


7:57:56, Jan 30th 2014

KingslandGrad95 says:
@valleygirl I have yet to see anything published in the Journal regarding Kingsland's Facility Committee meetings. Do you get the Spring Valley Tribune and is it in that paper where it says when the Facility Committee meetings are? The only paper I know of that carries more Kingsland-related activities is the SV Tribune. Not everyone that receives the Journal pays to receive the SV Tribune.


12:43:02, Jan 31st 2014

kingslandparent says:
Mr. Sethre - Just a question.....where are your reporters for the study sessions? Why weren't they at the meeting this past Wednesday night that @valleygirl was at? You claimed in your article that your paper covers every school board meeting. Maybe the issue is your paper and only reporting what you want when you want. Here is a good read for you. At least a newspaper does take the time to attend all meetings and present the facts.


3:44:44, Jan 31st 2014

valleygirl says:
@Kingslandgrad95- Hi- The information on the facility meeting was announced at the January 22nd board meeting. It was also published in the Bluff Country Reader as well as the Tribune I am sure. I don’t purchase the Tribune either, but I know the article on the board meeting was available on-line through the Reader as well. If you are not able to attend a board meeting, or find the information on-line I would suggest calling the district office after the next board meeting on Feb. 19th and asking if another informational facilities meeting has been scheduled. They will give you the date and time. The board wants to hear what the public thinks. It is obvious you want to become part of the solution.

@Mr. Sethre- Thanks for the information. I had wondered exactly what documents you felt you were not provided. It is interesting to me that the figures regarding what the farm and business tax would be on the proposed referendum doesn’t seem to have ever been published in your paper, in your competitor’s paper, and furthermore I can’t find it in the boards meeting minutes. I have seen the tax information regarding a $100,000 homestead several times, but never the farm and business tax information. Since I know both you and your competitor have diligently covered the board meetings, it makes me wonder if the board has ever reviewed the tax liability information in regards to what impact the referendum would place on farm and business in a public meeting. Otherwise one, if not both papers covering the story, surely would have reported something about these figures. So, if I am correct and the whole board has not viewed these in a public meeting then how is there a violation of the open meeting law? Is it possible these figures are not adequately accurate enough at this point to present them to the board and thus to the public, and if so, is that possibly the reason Mr. McDonald felt he needed to check and see if he should release these figures to a member of the press? I am just guessing at this. I have not attended every board meeting and study session to verify… but then again, neither has the Journal. As I previously commented, what happened in your meeting with Mr. McDonald is between you and he, but there is always two sides to every story and it seems that my guess is at least plausible.

@MNKelly- Why should you listen to me? Well, I work for an attorney and so I have a fabulous law library at my disposal and an attorney to ask opinions of. Just kidding…. Well sort of. That was all true, but really I am just a concerned citizen who is trying to help people understand, in my opinion, this isn’t quite as bad as it sounds, just as Mr. Sethre is urging the public to beware- again two points of view. I am sorry you feel you have been persecuted by the Kingsland district. While my family has had its ups and downs and issues at school as well, overall I feel we had a good educational experience at Kingsland…. and part of that includes the administration. Since you only want to believe something you see in the newspaper you should check the link that @kingslandparent provided above. Good luck to you!


5:05:49, Jan 31st 2014

Jason Sethre, Publisher of Fillmore County Journal says:
As of 3:17 p.m. on January 30, 2014, I received an email from Superintendent McDonald that included all of the documents I originally requested on January 13, 2014.

Unfortunately, the February 3, 2014 issue of the Journal was already near layout completion, so we didn't have enough time to analyze and format all information for this next issue.

However, our readers can look forward to seeing the proposed tax impact for residential, commercial and farmland properties at various levels for all proposed scenarios in the February 10, 2014 issue of the Journal.

Jason Sethre
Fillmore County Journal


8:41:30, Jan 31st 2014

kingslandparent says:
Mr. Sethre - I can tell you, in your February 10th issue, quite a few people are more interested in hearing your reporter's take on the facility meetings the school board has had, for instance the one this past Wednesday night that @valleygirl attended. Oh wait, I guess we more than likely won't be getting that as it is quite obvious your reporters don't attend these meetings. You clearly stated in the last paragraph of your commentary that your newspaper covers every city council, every school board and every county board meeting in Fillmore County. Obviously that isn't the case.


12:08:49, Feb 1st 2014

FYI says:

Just for clarification purposes, a "study session" is not a school board meeting, but rather a committee meeting. So therefore, when you state, "You claimed in your article that your paper covers every school board meeting", you are clearly misinterpreted Mr. Sethre's statement.

There may be discussion at committee meetings, but no formal action can be taken without full board passage/consent, which obviously takes place at a regular school board meeting. Plus and suggestions/recommendations are reported in "Committee Reports" at the regular school board meetings as a whole.

And a Journal representative clearly was there on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014 by the article found here:

So, let's think things through, research, and collect the facts before we go pointing fingers and say things out of spite and angst. I'll step down off my soapbox now. Thank you!


7:25:21, Feb 1st 2014

KingslandGrad95 says:
@valleyparent As a resident of the Kingsland School District, the District should use whatever means possible to inform the residents of any and all meetings that are open to the public. I shouldn't have to enquire as to when meetings are.

Mr. Sethre, I would be skeptical of the figures that the Superintendent sent you, seeing as how he has had several weeks to "play with the figures" to state his case.


11:52:39, Feb 1st 2014

valleygirl says:
I have had ENOUGH of this! Grow up people! @ KingslandGrad95- The Kingsland board can put all the meeting times they want to in front of you. It is up to YOU to look at it. As I said before - the information on the last "study session" was published in at least two places, probably three, They could send you a notice in your mail box. Would you get up and go get the mail and read it? Maybe they should spend money for someone to drive through Wykoff and SV in a truck with a loud speaker system and announce meeting times, or maybe a plane with a banner behind it? Would that be CONVENIENT enough for you or will you still have your head stuck in the sand unable to look up? If it is too much of an inconvenience for you to place a phone call then it is certainly going to be too much for you to attend a meeting. Stop the blame. Furthermore, costs on what is needed to be repaired, replaced, updated, and built are changing all the time. At the last "study session" the board was still questioning expenses that seemed unreasonable, or could be obtained by cheaper measures.... but you would already know that if you had went to the "study session" So yes, if they change something it is going to look different to the public. Are they not supposed to question the numbers now either? Wait- I thought you people wanted them to question the #'s, get mulitple bids, etc.
@FYI- You are entirely correct that a "study session" is different than a board meeting. Since I was at both the board meeting and the "study session" let me educate YOU on the difference. The board meeing covered a variety of topics related to the workings of the school district including a brief presentation on facilities. The STUDY SESSION was MUCH more in depth than the board meeting and only covered ONE topic. That topic was the future use of both facilities. There was a lot of information and discussion about repairs and updates to each building, how much they would cost, if now is the time. Maybe more importantly the discussion was about WHY- WHY are repairs needed, WHY do they cost this much, IS there something else we can do, HOW many students are expected in the next years, HOW many students do we have currently, WHERE can we put these students, DO we need to hire more teachers for licensure requirements if we keep both sites open, HOW many students are we going to loose if we have to close the Wykoff site? I believe what @kingslandparent was trying to say is that if the Journal truly cares about this situation - and I mean the WHOLE situation then why weren't they there? Mr. Sethre himself was at the same board meeting I was on the 22nd of January, sitting two rows behind me when the meeting- I mean study session was announced. So why, less than two weeks after this article and its almost 30 on-line comments were published, would the Journal not send a reporter to cover the meeting... I mean study session? I am glad the Journal will be publishing the info. Mr. McDonald sent this week, and I hope they continue to cover the issue whatever outcome it may have. Mostly, no matter what happened in the first meeting between Mr. McDonald and Mr. Sethre, I hope Mr. Sethre will take the high road and continue to report in an unbiased fashion.

To the rest of you commenting on this, or maybe reading and choosing to remain silent - All I want is for you to take it upon yourself to be informed. Go to a meeting, listen to what they have to say, then make your decision. If the Wykoff school closes it will be because none of you really cared enough to make it your business. It will not be the boards fault, it will be the people of the Kingsland district.


12:42:25, Feb 1st 2014

FYI says:

Just for clarification purposes, a "study session" is not a school board meeting, but rather a committee meeting. So therefore, when you state, "You claimed in your article that your paper covers every school board meeting", you are clearly misinterpreted Mr. Sethre's statement.

There may be discussion at committee meetings, but no formal action can be taken without full board passage/consent, which obviously takes place at a regular school board meeting. Plus and suggestions/recommendations are reported in "Committee Reports" at the regular school board meetings as a whole.

And a Journal representative clearly was there on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014 by the article found here:

So, let's think things through, research, and collect the facts before we go pointing fingers and say things out of spite and angst. I'll step down off my soapbox now. Thank you!


8:14:18, Feb 1st 2014

kingslandparent says:
@FYI - What I was referring to was exactly what @valleygirl said and let me just copy and paste that for you so that you are clear on it........@valleygirl said ...@kingslandparent was trying to say is that if the Journal truly cares about this situation - and I mean the WHOLE situation then why weren't they there? Mr. Sethre himself was at the same board meeting I was on the 22nd of January, sitting two rows behind me when the meeting- I mean study session was announced. So why, less than two weeks after this article and its almost 30 on-line comments were published, would the Journal not send a reporter to cover the meeting... I mean study session?

I, myself, find @valleygirls question to be a very good one that I do think the Journal should address. The Spring Valley Tribune has no problem being there and reporting all of the facts so why does the Journal only report what they want. If they were truly concerned on the facts, they would be attending every meeting, not just pick and choose. Mr. Sethre himself says taxpayers deserve full disclosure but is he giving full disclosure by not reporting the entire story? Obviously there is more out there than he chooses to report.

Maybe some mentoring for you from the editor of the Spring Valley Tribune is in order. If your paper is all about giving people the facts, then I would think you would be all about gathering all of the facts and not just bits and pieces whenever you see fit. And Mr. Sethre, I do hope you read the link to Mr. Phillips' commentary that I added for you. You may learn a thing or two.


2:43:30, Feb 2nd 2014

MBigelow says:
I have been reading this article and many others because I am thinking about moving to you town. I see what is happening because it happened here where I live now. Schools get closed because of low in enrollment.That is a fact. Also everyone starts to point fingers. Here I see you hide behind fake names and are afraid of using you own ones. WHY?? All you all are doing is causing more of a issue then it is, unless you all ban together nothing will change. The reporter is printing the facts of what is been given to him and unless you were at the meeting then you really don't know. If you want a voice then get INVOLVED! Everyone has a opinion and it is there right. Fact or no fact it is there's alone. Request for a meeting make a date and print it in the paper and you all go voice your concerns. It is you children and grandchildren you all are talking about future. My children's school did close and yes it hurt some children because of the class sizes became larger!! The option is also you can pay more property taxes and have a watch group see where the monies are being spent. We elected not to pay so the school closed. My son is one that it effected. HE fell between the cracks and ended falling behind. There is proof smaller classes help all student but no one wants to pay more. OK enough about my town. As I stated request for a meeting open to the public with the Super and your elected officials and take a breath, then look at the numbers. Before the meeting set up a agenda so everyone will be ready. Quit hiding behind factious names...


9:31:27, Feb 2nd 2014

MNKelly says:
@valleygirl, you state in one of your ranting comment to stop the blame but arent you blaming the editor and reporter of misinforming the public? Hypocrite much? In my opinion, you want everyone to only consider your perspective or they are uninformed, etc. Its ok that we all think for ourselves.


12:34:26, Feb 3rd 2014

kingslandparent says:
I took @valleygirl's suggestion and contacted a school board member over the weekend just to find out what is going on. I think if some of you did the same, you would be rather surprised as to what you find out. I will tell you the decision to close the Wykoff building is not set in stone but that is the only bit of information I will share with you as you know-it-alls out there can take the time to find out the real issues yourselves.

But there is something else I will share with you that I found out from this school board member. I asked point blank about the Fillmore County Journal sending a reporter to a meeting and yes, the Journal is at their regular meeting but nothing else. They were not at their facilities meeting last week, but there were 2 community members there and a reporter from the Tribune. What does that tell us other than you only like to cause controversy when you don't know the facts yourself.

So Mr. Sethre - I again ask - if you are so determined to give the facts, why aren't your reporters taking the time to gather all of the facts and attend these meetings. An explanation in your upcoming article would be much appreciated. As I see it, not doing so would be extremely unprofessional and quite honestly a bit cowardly.

I have 3 children who attend Kingsland Schools, and we have had nothing but positive experiences. We have fabulous teachers and administrators who truly care about our kids and their education. Mr. Sethre, you are so quick to point the finger at the Kingsland School District's administration and school board, but you are just as much to blame for not reporting everything that should be reported.


10:08:58, Feb 4th 2014

valleygirl I am so confused by all of this!! I don't know what end is up! Even the school board is saying different things than previously reported or recorded in their own minutes. I don't know what to think but it makes me think it is not medias fault but the fault of communication or something. I would not have known any of this stuff if it weren't for the media to be honest. I work a 2nd shift job and am not able to go to school board meetings and until very recently they didn't have their current minutes posted for this year. So I am thankful for the newspapers. One thing I did notice is the board president said a motion was made to go to one site but a referendum had to be passed to do it. So that mean that yes the board did decide to go to one site first and then try to pass a referendum second which leaves the 5 options you talk about as only 3 since the first two have to do with two sites and they already decided to go to one. It is all kind of confusing and I can't decide if the board is trying to cover things up or if they are realizing they made a big mistake. But one thing is for sure. If everyone would have been open and honest and communicated it to the public to begin with, we wouldn't probably be having this discussion. I have no beefs with the board or super just yet because I feel like the whole thing is a cluster but honestly it does seem like that cluster was caused by them and they could have made better decisions going into it. I will agree with valley that the board meeting coverage by the journal isn't very good by the jeffers lady because a lot gets left out compared to the other newspaper but I am glad to have two sources to look at and they are pretty much the same except the other one has more information. In case you want to question the building closing this is the link to the story with the board presidents direct quote


2:01:34, Feb 4th 2014

valleygirl says:
To the person who commented directly above me. I was confused too - that's why I decided I better take the time to figure it out. I don't have all of the answers for you. I wish I did. At THIS point keeping the Wykoff site open is still VERY much an option. You are correct. The board did vote back in October? to close the Wykoff site. That decision was based on a recommendation from the facility committee. I don't know why that happened. I can only speculate that either it was never meant to be a firm decision or maybe they had to get the word out there on what was being planned giving the public plenty of time to react? I think it is important to remember the board members don't do this for a living, they are not college grads of school board school.... maybe it was a mistake, and they are trying to rectify it. I'm sorry I don't have that answer for you.

I believe it is up to each of us to look at the information and decide for ourselves what makes sense. I think its great you are reading two sources of news for information. It is always important to make sure you are getting both sides to every story. Please remember though that opinion is not fact. The opinion pieces by the Journal are one persons opinion. As you can see by other comments I have made I have a huge problem with a persons character being degraded by an opinion piece in the newspaper.

If you would like first hand information I would suggest contacting one of the board, or I know sometimes the meetings are shown on King11. Hopefully, if the board has another study or information session you can attend. I understand that may be difficult with your work schedule. If you do speak to one of the board maybe you could mention it might help to have the meeting filmed so those who can't attend could view later if they wanted.

@Kingslandparent - Way to go!!! Glad to hear you are trying to keep yourself informed with correct information!


6:22:08, Feb 4th 2014

whatamess says:
OK I don't have kids in Kingsland and we go to L-O and live in that district but some of our friends go there so I have been reading all about this. I would say based on the last comment that if the board may have made a motion (which by the way a board doesn't do just to see what happens, or at least they shouldn't) to give the public time to react then why are you mad that they are? They have a right to their opinions just like you do valleygirl. If the FCJ posts a commentary then it is opinion, all newspapers post opinion commentaries and many of them fault politicians, businesses or communities. That's what a commentary is so you are off base to complain about that. While I think some of valleygirl's statements bring good points she is also flipping out and acting a little too holier than though. Maybe you should contact the FCJ and ask if you can have a commentary too.
The first two articles I read that weren't under commentary had facts in them. That is a news story and not a commentary. While both Kidd and McDonald gave their own opinions too they were accompanied by facts they had or facts provided. I don't live in the district and I'm not footing the bill so I didn't have an opinion one way or the other. But after McDonald contacted Jason Sethre and I read that, as an outsider looking in I thought 'that guy is a politician and nothing more.' He clearly wanted things stated is a skewed favorable light instead of honest to goodness plain English. That to me is a red flag.
Above that even is I don't believe no school board members haven't heard from citizens and I certainly don't believe that at least a few board people don't read the paper, letters to editors or online forum comments. Thus they know people are against it or for it. Maybe no one stood up at a meeting but it can be difficult to stand up in a room and be defiant of what an entire board of people voted unanimously to do. But maybe one on one is easier for people and maybe they have, none of you could know that so stop beating each other up.
I can't believe how hard some of you are being on each other. Your kids go to school together and you share communities together. Get over yourselves and be nice to each other to get it figured out. To someone like me that doesn't have kids in your schools, you all look really bad for behaving like that and I feel I wouldn't want my children in a community like that. I read so many comments jot just under this commentary but other things related to this and let me tell you something, the way valleygirl has threatened to take business away from a small community because she doesn't like a commentary is selfish and disgusting. Its not here but bit is under another story. I'm sorry I am not trying to single anyone out but sometimes the one with the biggest mouth gets finger pointed at them.
I feel sorry for the ill feelings one board and one superintendent have caused in your community. If it were my community I would want them all voted out and/or replaced. There is clear and factual evidence they have changed their motives and stories. Talk about citizens going to a meeting and not standing up, that board doesn't exactly seem to say anything about much either. Obviously they aren't professional board members but if any one of them can't handle communication or decision making on behalf of the district's majority they have no business there. And no one should act like its a volunteer side gig because most school boards aren't and they get paid.
I wish you all luck and I will pray that you learn to stop being so selfish for you aesthetic wants of gyms and walking tracks and think about your kids and their future and your family's financial well being.


9:55:27, Feb 4th 2014

ChillPill says:
@kingslandparent and @valleygirl Please calm down and get off your high horses! You are making our school community look bad. You don't fault the paper you should fault the people interviewed that didn't give the answers you want to hear!
And another thing, IT IS NOT THE WYKOFF SCHOOL @valleygirl! Leave your late 80's/early 90's mentality in those decades. It has been KINGSLAND SCHOOL since 1993, reality check! People like you still try and keep our district divided. We are in this together, get on the KINGSLAND boat! It is no longer Spring Valley school or Wykoff school. It is the Kingsland high and elem and the Kingsland middle. KINGSLAND. No wonder you're so pro-board and super. You act like you WANT the Wykoff families to leave.

You said the committee is talking about how many students they could lose? Well duh! Obviously they know that is a problem if they have to talk about it. You can have your useless gym in your HALF EMPTY SPRING VALLEY SCHOOLbecause rural and Wykoff residents leave. HORRIBLE school spirit and district pride. SHAME ON YOU! And I live in Spring Valley! You two are as bad as the editor of the Tribune! Its OK to have town pride where you LIVE but our SCHOOL PRIDE encompasses more than just your own little entitlement clouds!


3:25:20, Feb 5th 2014

MNKelly says:
If this committee decided this fall to consider closing the middle school, how come Mr. McDonald has information dated June of 2013? No matter how we all feel about this or what happens, Mr. McDonald gets to walk away after causing a wedge between our friends & neighbors. And I do blame Mr. McDonald for trying to be what I perceive as "sneaky".


8:16:46, Feb 6th 2014

concerned says:
I have been deciding whether or not to comment on this thread as I am sure I will be ripped apart. My wife and I are friends with one of our school board members, but I am assuming some of you could be as well. Other than my wife and I, our friend has had one, ONLY ONE, person talk to them regarding the issue at hand - ONLY ONE. Typically no one attends their school board meetings other than teachers and principals. Only two community members attended their facilities workshop recently which was quite long and the board members addressed their concerns with a building referendum. Not everything discussed in 2 hour long meetings and workshops gets printed in the paper as how could it. We all need to get our information from somewhere other than someone in the public who more than likely isn't even well informed and just has their own ideas as to why things or happening or the newspaper. I don't think any of us really understand the problems they are facing, one big one being our elementary school has outgrown the elementary portion of the building. I really cannot blame our current administration and school board for that as if you look back, not one person on the school board now or administration, other than 1 principal, was a part of designing that. No one wants a wedge driven between our communities. All I ask is you get the facts before you start judging - talk to a board member and attend meetings. I think you would be surprised as to what you find out. Thank you.

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