Letter to the Editor

History is responsible

Sunday, September 9, 2012

To the Editor:

The history of Clay County Schools as I see it is remarkable and is responsible for the status of our schools today, and our student's education today.

This history needs to be thoroughly analyzed now and prepare our students' education for tomorrow.

I have been where I could see our history develop since July 1976. I could see the inside of monthly school board actions since that date. I covered each monthly meeting in the time frame until July 2011 when I was soundly reprimanded until I was speechless and unable to attend that monthly meeting.

July 1976's monthly school board meeting was presented to the public in a shocking setting. A new school board on that date, after just a few days, announced a fully planned future school program before our public was aware of its presence in the schedule.

It had been planned to take away an elderly gentleman's one hundred acres of prime farmland in order to eventually place every schools' grades 1-12 on this site. Architects were selected and plans were developed before our public had been informed of this school board's plot.

All schools and parents had not been informed, had not been notified of this action prior to the July 1976 board meeting. It was a blow and a shock to public and students. One year later, in 1977, an individual in our state department personally informed me that Clay City Schools were to have been included in that consolidation. That was the first time anyone legally informed me. And my answer was "no" one year later.

Clay City parents were never informed by that school board. Immediately after that 1976 school board action, citizens from all over the corporation met me in my office one evening. I had not been informed that they were coming. This committee had gathered quickly. The full group wanted to block the illegal action taken by the school board. Those citizens acted together to block this plan. The numbers continued to rise quickly. They asked for my help. I believed it to be a worthy cause coming from this committee. It was for our students' benefit. This was corporation-wide -- not just Clay City.

Quickly, this group obtained 5,000 signatures within two days against this scary plan. This was quickly placed in our state departments' hands. The plan was stopped at the state level. This group of citizens then formed "Three B" candidates for the 1978 school board election. I was one of those B's.

That 1978 school board gained state approval for school construction. The public approved widely. It included constructing three high schools in one corporation by uniting Staunton and Brazil into one school. State approval would only accept three high schools. It never accepted any plans this school board presented to improve junior high schools.

Thirty-three acres were purchased to place the Staunton-Brazil school. Van Buren and Clay City schools were approved to maintain their 1-12 graders school with new designs. There were seven items in that plan, including new buildings and up-to-date renovations of other schools. That school board placed a top price of thirty million dollars to carry out this state department's approval.

Ten months after our state departments' full approval for these projects, millions of tax dollars went down the drain and the entire projects were canceled by out state departments. Breaking ground for all these plans was the next step.

Some individuals had sent $8,000 by hand to a Lincoln Day Dinner at Columbus, Ind., for our state superintendent to cancel approval of the 1978 school board's plan. That superintendent's reason for cancellation was that the plan was too costly.

The top cost for seven projects was 30 million dollars when it was fully approved. It would have stayed not more than 30 million when construction was completed. The $8,000 carried to that superintendent that night was not state approved. It was a buyout performed in an illegal manner. I believe that our students' education was sorely damaged and has not recuperated today.

As a consequence, our taxpayers endured taxation without representation. That $8,000 did not represent the public. That manner of school board actions exists today.

Another consequence of this $8,000 was our consolidated junior high school students were placed into the old Van Buren High School for 12-plus years. That building wasn't worth educating Van Buren High School students. How could it have been safe and capable of junior high school students? It wasn't. What a scam. How much education was lost those 12 years?

Subsequently, in 1982, Northview High School was approved for construction on the same site bought for Staunton-Brazil High School. The same approved project number was used. This approval was given in 1982, only if Northview's operation would stay completely out of Clay City schools' operation at any time. That includes today.

The 1982 school board promised to do this. School boards after Northview's construction have undermined Clay City schools. It is nearly impossible for a school board structured as our school board is to maintain Clay City schools' approval by our state department.

I look upon this state department ruling as giving us clean school boards, clean students and clean schools. Otherwise, our Clay Community Schools is adulterated and will remain so.

During the past four years, I have served as the current District 4 Board Member. District 4 was formed when there were high schools in four districts. Today, we only have two high schools, with two districts. Today, four districts are obsolete and dysfunctional.

I pay taxes for these schools. I am blocked from informing my public severely. As our present school board is structured as only one school board, it is functioning as taxation without representation for my public.

It is time to structure our school board or boards to function in the schools today to govern the schools of today that have resulted from a long history I have reported. This long presentation is the history of how we got today's schools and how our current status needs to change for our student's future productive education.

I believe that we can utilize our recent elementary schools to function better in tomorrow's schools. That is another aspect. If one figures Clay City taxpayers payment on our elementary renovations, it is 25 percent-plus of the total payment, and Clay City Elementary is receiving 4 percent of the total renovation.

This is a violation of our school board's agreement with our state department in 1982 when Northview was constructed.

Two school boards are necessary in our corporation today to avoid such violations. When can our public erase the undermining of our schools in our corporation? This does affect our student's education.

History is important in our public's assessment of its school boards and our students' education.

Forrest Buell,

Clay City