From the mailbag: Liverpool School Board members return fire over petitions

To the editor,

This letter is in response to the continuous attacks on our school district by Ms. Yager, Ms. Matson and Ms. Ruf (from "Taxpayer revolt grows," March 23, 2011). These individuals allegedly represent the taxpayers and children by propagating baseless complaints about what is happening in our district and by accusing the superintendent and board of education of spending taxpayer money inappropriately. We take their statements and allegations extremely seriously and feel we must respond.

In 2008, the State Comptroller's office audited our school district and found serious deficiencies. Since that time several new processes and controls have been put in place and the "tone at the top" has been addressed through the hiring of Dr. Richard Johns. The BOE is very much aware of the financial operations of the district and of the internal and external auditor's opinions of the integrity of our processes and systems. The third party internal auditors consider Liverpool an exemplary institution. All activity related to any work done in the district has been publicly discussed by the BOE and superintendent and has been done within all approval and reporting requirements. Anyone can disagree with the choices, but the BOE and the superintendent have the most knowledge to make the best informed decision. It is malicious to accuse the BOE and superintendent of hiding actions, being uninformed or acting in any way that is not ethical, because it simply isn't true.

With respect to the FOCUS Academy, the petitioners are ignoring those students that need a smaller learning environment-like the district has done for over 10 years. The current proposal for the FOCUS Academy has not yet been decided by the BOE. There has not been a single penny spent on the Wetzel Road facility toward the FOCUS Academy. The proposal in the budget provides a one-time $40,700 to create a science lab and adult bathrooms in order to use the facility for secondary education. The FOCUS Academy approach will help the 90 students that participate be more successful and graduate with substantive skills. Many would be at high risk of not graduating. To petition to deny these students their chance to be successful is a petition for selfish reasons at the expense of these kids. What have the petitioners proposed to improve our success with these students and increase our graduation rate that would cost less? Nothing.

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