Archive for Wednesday, September 19, 2007


September 19, 2007

Writer disgruntled with the disgruntled

To the editor:

Recent letters to the editor and comments at board meetings have caused me concern. There is a small group of disgruntled individuals with an agenda that is seeking to sew discord and discontent with our board and superintendent.

Our board members are truly selfless individuals who care about our community and our children. They serve without compensation; most have jobs and dedicate much of their free time to ensure the smooth operation of our schools. They are involved in other activities and attend conferences on behalf of the patrons of USD 464. I personally want to thank them for being dedicated, loyal, public officials. I attend approximately 70 percent of the scheduled monthly meetings and can attest to a positive, professional board and staff concerned with the education of our children.

Criticism of our superintendent is unfair and unwarranted. During the past three years he has continued to oversee the daily operations of the district while simultaneously coordinating a $25 million construction project without additional staff. His untiring efforts and ability to accomplish a myriad of duties has saved the district money, taxes haven't been raised and we have the best facilities in the area.

Issues/problems in the district have been dealt with professionally and timely. When the digital infrastructure became a problem the board, with the superintendent, acted swiftly. When personnel issues surfaced the disloyal employees were dealt with, their conduct addressed and the problems resolved.

Have some mistakes been made? Certainly, we have people involved and mistakes are going to happen. But the disgruntled few are making a lot of noise while overlooking the many positives. We have great schools, a committed board, dedicated superintendent, professional administrators and an awesome faculty all synchronized to educate our most precious assets, the children.

Great Job!

Dan Hopkins,

Mayor's e-mail 'mistake' could be costly to city

To the editor:

Citizens of Tonganoxie: Wake Up!

I cannot believe that we are going to let yet another disgrace to our town go under the carpet.

It is not enough that our school superintendent tells us that we are blowing out of proportion kids selling drugs in the high school parking lot?

Is it not enough that our school pays a person to shop on the Internet for refurbished merchandise only to have the taxpayers pay again to purchase a brand new piece of equipment because the refurbished unit does not work?

Is it not enough that our city employees are taking the city vehicles home when they live more than 10 miles outside the city limits?

Is it not enough that the City Council does nothing to work on annexing County Road 1, which will provide the city revenue and keep taxes down for the citizens?

I ask you citizens of Tonganoxie: Have we not learned anything from the Theno vs. School Board lawsuit?

Mayor Vestal all but said he had sent e-mail's of this nature before and will most likely do it again. This is 2007 and it appears that racism is still in our small town by the mayor nonetheless.

Mr. Mayor in your March 28th candidate Q&A (Tonganoxie Mirror) you stated "... know how to handle myself in the Mayor/ Council setting. I have good problem-solving skills and will work well with the city staff. My people skills are excellent." I wish you luck problem solving and hope your people skills with the female citizens as well as the African-American citizens of Tonganoxie after that e-mail.

Citizens of Tonganoxie ... stand up and say enough of our tax dollars are being spent on non-educated people and decisions. Enough is enough! This "mistake" by our mayor could end up costing us (taxpayers) thousands of dollars in lawsuits.

Lisa Finney

'Giveaways' preceded call for spending restraint

To the editor:

I attended the school board meeting on Aug. 10 and listened as the superintendent explained how it was time to "tighten our belts." He spent about 20 minutes explaining how the school district was in a serious budget crunch. The district had over spent an additional $300,000 on school improvements.

When the school board came out of executive session, we found out they had "bought out" Mr. Brun's contract for $57,000. I thought it was "time to tighten our belts"? Now we're giving money away?

Wouldn't it have made more since to terminate the superintendent's contract? That would have saved the taxpayers $100,000 instead of costing us $57,000.

This isn't the first time our school board has given taxpayers' money away. Last year the school board paid two principals to stay home. That also cost the taxpayers $44,000. Not to mention having to hire additional principals to take their place. Two years ago the school district lost a federal sexual harassment case that cost the district's insurance company $440,000. When the insurance is renewed, how much higher are the premiums going to be? How are higher insurance premiums going to fit in the money crunch budget?

If we add up the taxpayers' money the school board has "given away" during the past two years, it comes to more than $600,000. This is money that was thrown away on problems the school board could have easily fixed, and it wouldn't have cost the taxpayers or the schools' insurance company a cent.

This wasn't the first time the superintendent threw one of his fits on a district employee. The school board also knew he has done the same thing to parents. So why does the school board continue to renew the superintendent's contract?

The school board buys out the bullying victim's contract and keeps the bully? Does that make sense?

It's been an expensive last two years for taxpayers. As long as the school board ignores problems, it is only going to get worse.

Our schools' focus should be on educating our children. We have four buildings full of great students, a money crunch problem and our school board is giving money away. What is wrong with this picture?

Alan Theno

Editor's note: The school district settled the $440,000 federal sexual harassment lawsuit with Alan Theno's son, Dylan Theno, in December 2005. Dylan Theno filed a federal lawsuit in May 2004 stating that he was the target of sexual discrimination at the hands of other students.

Omission of exchange on quorums a mistake?

To the editor:

I was disheartened to see the reporting of the council meeting concerning my comments to the board. My statement concerning the e-mail was correct but constituted a small portion of my main concern, the proposed quorum change. Mr. Putthoff and I exchanged our opposing positions for a full three minutes in a dignified debate and continued after I had left the podium. After the meeting, we shook hands and left amicably. Because the meeting was recorded by your reporter, I request that my concerns and Mr. Putthoff's be printed for the public to see. Reiterating my stance now would diminish the exchange that took place.

I would hope that this omission from "City Council Briefs" is an honest mistake and not self-censorship. The public deserves a full, unvarnished report on the mechanisms meant to keep our institutions vital. Hopefully the owners of The Mirror feel the same.

William T. Peak

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