Board decision cuts you off

 

Have you ever wondered how the Tri-City United School Board spends your tax dollars? Whose salary are they raising? Who are they hiring and for what? How are they handling the fees that they charge you to attend a school event?
The school district informs you, the public, through Public Notices that have been published in the Montgomery Messenger and then on its website, montgomerymnnews.com.
Until now. 
At its January 14 organizational meeting, the board unanimously voted to make Le Center Leader its official newspaper for 2013. The decision effectively removes all information I mentioned above from your hands in the Messenger and from its website. 
After mulling it over last week, I sent the following letter to all of the school board members, as well as Superintendent Matt Helgerson. 
 
Hello TCU Board members,
 
I was surprised at the board's decision on Monday, Jan. 14 to name only the Le Center Leader as TCU's official newspaper for 2013. From what Lori Nickel, the Messenger staff reporter at the meeting, said it wasn't a budget-based decision, rather one simply on "starting to take turns." 
I would have understood your decision if the district were in the process of making massive budget/staff and building cuts, but that is not the case. You just approved almost a million dollars in building additions/renovations, but you cut out the local newspaper - one of the vehicles that reports your news to the community that supports you. That doesn’t make sense to me.
I was also very disappointed to hear that not ONE of the Montgomery board members even suggested the continuation of publishing the legal minutes in their hometown newspaper, since the district is still so new. I was also disappointed in all of the board members for not saying that publishing in just one newspaper restricts so many district residents from the legal minutes. 
Last year, the district paid only $4840 to Suel Printing to publish its legal notices and summarized minutes from board meetings in the Montgomery Messenger. This is not the issue, and I don’t want people to think it is. Besides, that a small amount compared to other district expenses.
I mentioned the board’s decision in my column this week, and I have already had 3 phone calls from people who were upset by your decision. One referred to it as a slap in the face since the district and brand-new high school, which their taxes support, are located in Montgomery. They understood the decision to publish in Le Center, but did not agree with the exclusivity.
When the board was making the decision last year, Jim Miller voted against the Messenger because it was not online. That is not the case now, as (Superintendent) Matt mentioned at the meeting. The Messenger is online and all (published) public notices are posted there - free of charge.
Your decision does a huge disservice to the residents of Montgomery because now taxpayers are forced to find another method to read about how the district is spending their taxes. Your decision forces Montgomery taxpayers to pay for another community newspaper or an online subscription to one. (The Messenger’s site and the public notices on it are free.)
I urge you to reconsider your decision on behalf of your district’s taxpayers that support your school district, and the newspaper that has supported the local school district since its creation.
To voice your concerns about this decision, contact any of the TCU board members whose emails are now listed as:
 
Elizabeth Krocak (Chair): 
ekrocak@tcu2905.us
Dennis Lang (Vice Chair): 
dlang@tcu2905.us
Debbie Struckman (Treasurer/Clerk/Secretary):
dstruckman@tcu2905.us
Kevin Krohn (Director): 
kkrohn@tcu2905.us
Amy Barnett (Director): 
abarnett@tcu2905.us
Kevin Huber (Director): 
khuber@tcu2905.us
Jody Baker (Director): 
jbaker@tcu2905.us
Brad O'Keefe (Director): 
bokeefe@tcu2905.us
Marsha Franek (Director): 
mfranek@tcu2905.us