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An April 7 front page story in the Prior Lake American (PLA) and an editorial a week later raise two disturbing concerns about the leadership of our School Board. First is the implication that the Board Chair (with support of the Board majority) believes he has the authority to implement tactics that could lead to removal of Board members with whom he disagrees. We encourage residents to read the PLA articles (links below) and draw their own conclusions, based upon the reported facts. Second is the implication that the District is intentionally hiding public information. CAG can offer additional insight on this concern.

CAG has experienced the same difficulty that the PLA had in obtaining School District documents. As questions about the School District/Nexus relationship initially emerged, CAG requested copies of the District’s contracts with Nexus in April of 2016. It wasn’t until November 18 that Julie Cink, the District’s Business manager finally provided a copy of the Performance Services Agreement that paid Nexus about $3 million. It was delivered to CAG with a letter from Ms. Cink stating it “was discovered on November 11, 2016 when looking through Dr. Gruver’s files”. Gruver was the former Superintendent. If Ms. Cink, the District’s Business Director didn’t have access to a copy of the $3 million contract, one wonders who if anyone provided any oversight over Nexus.

When CAG learned from an anonymous source that a cashier’s check (instead of a regular School District check) was used to make an initial payment of over a half million to Nexus (for stand-by generators) under the above contract, CAG asked more questions. The School District provided an invoice from Nexus for over $600,000 for generators, dated less than 30 days after the contract was signed. The invoice had been almost immediately marked with an “OK to Pay” notation, with the name of the approving official redacted. When CAG requested the name of the official in May of 2017, the District refused to provide it. It was only after the MN Department of Administration got involved on CAG’s behalf and advised the District to provide the name, that the District complied. CAG was informed in November of last year, that it was Staff member Jim Dellwo who had approved the payment. It had taken over 6 months to get this answer.

This is not an example of transparency, but rather a demonstration of complete subterfuge. And of course, none of it explains what was really going on, and who benefited from the generator purchases.

Prior Lake American Editorial: Let public business be public
By Rachel Minske rminske@swpub.com Apr 14, 2018 http://www.swnewsmedia.com/prior_lake_american/news/opinion/editorial/editorial-let-public-business-be-public/article_ae1c4f29-9161-5d4a-9406-59357d08df89.html 

From Prior Lake America: Two Prior Lake-Savage school board members found in violation of board policy for questioning district
By Maggie Stanwood mstanwood@swpub.com
Maggie Stanwood Apr 5, 2018