Letters to the Editor from the April 5 edition of The Madisonian

Frye states position on Walsh retirement, touts two school board candidates

Dear Editor,

At last month’s board meeting, my fellow Board members approved drafting a separation agreement with Superintendent Walsh. I would like to explain my reasons why there should be no separation agreement.

As I stated in last week’s letter to the editor, the retirement benefit plan that was offered to all school employees in 2010 had to be exercised immediately upon retirement eligibility or lost. The exact language of the benefit option reads:

“…the staff member must accept the retirement benefit plan on the first year they become eligible or forever lose the opportunity. No other retirement plan will be offered during the life of this plan.”

It is clear from the decision of TRS that Mr. Walsh has never actually retired nor did he exercise the retirement benefit plan option. Mr. Walsh is as subject to the 2010 retirement benefit plan as any other school employee.

Until the litigation with TRS is settled, it is a mistake for the board to be writing a separation agreement with Mr. Walsh.

A new board may look at this and say we need the opinion of an attorney who was not involved in making the decisions and writing these contracts that have given rise to the TRS claims.

We now know that important documents were concealed from this board and from TRS. We know that the school board’s attorney, Elizabeth Kaleva, helped write contracts for Mr. Walsh that are the basis for the TRS claims. Those facts alone dictate that we need a second legal opinion.

Bill Clark and Craig George will support seeking a second legal opinion, and they will support a comprehensive audit of our district’s financial records. These steps need to be taken to restore our community’s trust and confidence in the Ennis School Board’s financial integrity.

You can contribute to their campaigns by sending checks to:

Bill Clark PO Box 123 Ennis, MT 59729

Craig George 7 Foothill Trail Ennis, MT 59729

Lisa Frye

Ennis School Board Trustee

Ennis

Outstanding efforts to customers

Dear Editor,

Many people and businesses in our community are suffering great financial hardship as the “Great Recession” heads into its fourth year. Wall Street financial institutions, Federal regulatory agencies, Congress and the President, and the money center banks have all been roundly criticized for their actions contributing to the economic crisis we are going through.

I want to make sure that our local bank gets recognized for outstanding efforts to stand by its customers in Madison County during these hard times. The Combs family, the officers and employees of First Madison Valley Bank, and the bank’s president, Roy Pederson, deserve praise for all that they have tried to do for the bank’s borrowers while we all try to work through the mess. They represent the finest ideals of community.

Joseph Doyle

Virginia City

Want to be someone who listens

Dear Editor,

As a candidate for the Ennis School Board of Trustees I want people to know my position on important issues confronting the Board.

It is time for our community to move forward and to move beyond the issues that have divided us for almost two years. I believe the School Board needs to repair its relationship with the community. Some of the steps that I think would help are:

To be certain that agendas and Board minutes are detailed and accurate.

To make a greater effort to be more open with and more inclusive of parents, teachers, students, taxpayers, school district employees and other community members in the entire decision making process and especially the budgeting process.

To be more respectful of community input at board meetings, answering the public’s questions at board meetings rather than simply treating questions as comments.

To guarantee our books and financial records are open to everyone in a timely manner to insure transparency. All major contracts need to be put our to bid and open to community input.

To reach out to families who have taken their students out of our district and ask, “Why?” so that we can work toward remedies to keep our students in our school.

We must regain the public’s trust in our schools and our financial management. There should be a full and open review of the financial record to answer legitimate questions. Local attorney John Scully said this needed to be done almost two years ago. He was right. It still needs to be done. The audit should include all funds, not simply the funds that were used illegally to build the new school. There are too many unanswered questions about contracts not being put out to bid, contracts signed but not approved the Board and money being spent out of the Adult Education fund before we even have an Adult Education program. To move forward we need a clean start with a clean slate.

I believe we needed a new grade school and middle school and I’m glad we have a new school. But doing it without letting the taxpayers in the school district vote was wrong and that should not happen again.

Finally, moving the funds back to the county treasurer is another step that can enhance transparency and help restore confidence.

I want to be someone who listens and hears people’s concerns. Feel free to call me with your ideas at 682-7224.

If I’m not sure of something regarding an item that needs voting on or a question being asked of me, I will do research and find the answer before voting or answering.

I hope you’ll consider voting for me on May 8.

William “Bill” Clark

Ennis

 

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