Mt. Vernon Register-News

August 7, 2013

School appointment questioned

The Register-News

---- — Editor:

I rejoiced in 2007 when the referendum to build a new Mt. Vernon Township High School failed. I said that was the end of it. My husband said it wasn’t. He was right. In 2011, another vote was taken. The referendum passed. A new school was approved. Maybe that should be the end of it, but since the school board totally ignored the outcome of the 2007 vote, I don’t feel it’s wrong for me to continue to oppose a new school.

However, I want to put the issue of anew school aside for a few minutes and concentrate on what’s right and what’s wrong. As one of James Rippy’s columns stated, “We are not dumb.” Because we are not dumb, I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been shocked at the high school board’s recent behavior.

Why am I shocked? Well, first off, there have been four resignations in the last few months. The last two stated they were leaving mainly due to ethical differences. I’d say well, good for them, except that opened the gate for the board to appoint a total of four new people who were not elected by the taxpayers. Now surely no one thinks the board would appoint people who would be at odds with them on major issues. If they were open to that, why didn’t they appoint the people who ran for the board in the last election and were defeated? To be totally fair though, I think the board may have appointed one they will wish they hadn’t. Not everyone will ignore what’s right in order to accomplish what is popular at the moment.

On the other hand, there is one new board member that is being unethical just by being on the board, in my opinion. It’s Bill Beck, formerly of Beck Bus, and currently assistant to the regional vice president at Durham School Services.

I did a little research and found out that if you call the phone number for Beck Bus, you get Durham. From Durham, I found out that they provide the bus service for Mt. Vernon Township High School. Then I did a little research into school board member regulations and they found that board members are not to have an interest in school contracts. Need I say more?

Well, I’m going to say a little more. Bill is the advisory committee chairman for the Schweinfurth Foundation. That foundation has given grant money to various programs at the high school. One of the recent grants was for the new theater. Bill presented a check on behalf of the foundation.

Is it any wonder the high school board appointed Bill? He’s certainly proved he’s community minded and wants to help the school. The problem is a school board is supposed to have ethics. Picking Mr. Beck might not be totally illegal, but it sure is unethical. That brings us back to building a new school and some of the shenanigans that have gone on regarding that, but I said I wouldn’t go there; this time.

Patty Hargett