After review of recent public statements from the administration of our school district and the president of our school board, I am happy to report that my concerns of administrative incompetence are completely unfounded. The administration has proven that they have a solid handle on how to correctly add, subtract, multiply and divide numerical quantities larger than the six-digit salaries paid to top administration officials, and our district superintendent is completely qualified to read and understand payroll information and personal tax returns, although she does seem to have problems with her employment contracts and financial obligations.
The overpayment of salary for the superintendent was not an "unintentional mistake" or a "clerical error." Board President Tim Deets and outgoing district superintendent Bruce King instructed Business Director Pat Saucerman to pay new Administrator Margaret Geegan more than the school board approved contract amount. Interestingly, it appears that the rest of the school board members apparently were unaware of Mr. Deet's July 2011 directive.
District officials have been unable to produce a signed contract different than the April 2011 document ($130,000) for Margaret Geegan that would justify the business director to increase her salary ($140,883) without a new signed contract approved by the entire board of education for that sum.
Now that the email between Pat Saucerman (Marshfield School District business director) and payroll personnel at the district unequivocally shows that this misappropriation of funds was not due to an "unintentional mistake" or a "clerical error" I look forward to the explanation as to why district officials would make statements to the press that they knew were clearly incorrect.
I also seem to recall that the school board had a very interesting debate a few months ago because the board president Mr. Deets felt that the elected board treasurer was not entitled to ask for or receive detailed information regarding district finances. We as taxpayers even paid for the district to hire an attorney to back up that ridiculous claim. I wonder if that was just a bad decision or designed to keep taxpayers in the dark?
The board members all have received information in the past year detailing serious billing, bidding and contract problems along with the administration's claims to have "lost" records that are required by state statute to be kept for seven years. That would have been an excellent opportunity to bring transparency to district expenditures; instead it was swept under the proverbial rug.
What the residents of this district need now is complete transparency, disciplinary action and a preventive plan to assure that this will not happen again.
Margaret Geegan needs to explain why she did not bring this to the full board's attention immediately, and board members must insist on prompt repayment of funds. Our elected school board members have an obligation as our representatives to quickly investigate and provide an accurate explanation of how this misappropriation of funds occurred, before outgoing board members are relieved of their responsibilities.
John Nikolai is a Marshfield resident.