"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

Search This Blog

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rockwood School District Parents Need to Know How Their Tax Dollars are Being Spent

Here is an editorial by Bill McClellan of the St. Louis Post Dispatch about $250,000 being spent on "education" in the Rockwood School District, located in the metro St. Louis area. This "education" expenditure is to pay consultants a rather large sum of money and some additional expense from the district to these consultants in creating two-fulltime jobs for them:

Elizabethe Holland of the Post-Dispatch wrote a devastating story in Sunday's newspaper. She explained how you hired two former colleagues from the Minnesota district at which you used to work. First, you hired them as consultants. They each made $30,600 for 17 days of consulting while holding down full-time jobs in Minnesota. As consultants, they concluded that what the Rockwood district really needed was two more highly-paid administrators — themselves.

Although the district is facing financial problems, you hired them. They start next month. One will make $138,000 as associate superintendent of learning. He was making $97,200 in Minnesota. The other will make $125,000 as executive director of learning and support services. She was making $79,958 in Minnesota.

How can the $250,000 for this expenditure happen when it was not allotted? Welcome to the method of governmental groups obtaining what they want via the back door:

Rockwood's relationship with the two came about thanks to a $250,000 fund the School Board quietly allocated to (Superintendent) Borchers in September to pay for consultants and other needs while transitioning into his new role as a first-time superintendent.The money was approved at a meeting without discussion.


The board voted Sept. 2 to take the $250,000 from the district's operating fund "for superintendent contingency items," according to district records. But the $250,000 wasn't noted on the board's main meeting agenda. Rather, the topic was listed as a "consent agenda item" in another board document and voted on as a 2011 "budget adjustment."

Consent agenda items typically involve noncontroversial board business that requires no discussion before passage. If a board member wants to discuss an item, it can be pulled from the consent agenda and discussed at a board meeting.

The $250,000 allotment was not pulled from the consent agenda and was approved without discussion, district spokeswoman Kim Cranston said.

Rockwood does not have a dollar limit on items that can be approved by consent agenda, she said.

Do Rockwood taxpayers believe this is a transparent method in spending taxpayer dollars? Is this an expense the district can afford in the current economic climate? Read on:

In December 2010, about three months after setting aside the $250,000 for Borchers' use, the district announced it would have to cut $5.3 million to balance its 2011-12 budget, partly through staff reductions and salary freezes for administrators and support staff.

Six middle school teachers, 10 counselors, four drivers education teachers and three parking attendants at high schools lost their jobs. Rockwood also decided it would increase kindergarten tuition, high school parking fees and admission to sporting events to raise revenue.

The district's financial woes remain far from over. This coming fiscal year, Rockwood expects a deficit of $6 million to $16 million, according to Cranston.

Rockwood taxpayers might want to start asking more questions at school board meetings and examining the method of the way of doing business with this Board. Fiscal responsibility is paramount in our current economic times. If Rockwood parents are concerned about the way their tax dollars are being spent, it is time to get a game plan to watch expenses more closely. (See below for the next Board meeting schedule.) Your superintendent believes he is making the correct decisions and makes no excuses for spending money the district it doesn't have for jobs created in a questionable manner:

Borchers said he had heard few concerns about the money he was given for consultants.

"Let's just say we spent $180,000," he said, defending its use. "You could equate that to three teachers."

But, he said, using that money instead to hire Smasal, Dubois and Solution Tree could "help create this conceptual framework for continuous improvement that affects 22,000 students, 1,600 teachers and other support staff."

"That's the hat I have to wear," he said of his decision. "But what I'm charged with is making that strategic plan come to life and to achieve it. And I believe what we're doing with those dollars was spent ... professionally on things that will lead us to increased student achievement."

How much is that increased student achievement going to cost the district? That would be a good question to ask the superintendent. You need to know your expenses in your own life, you might want to hold your superintendent to the same method of balancing school budgets and not spending money the district it doesn't have.

From a commenter:

The next BOE meeting is NOT on July 14 – It's THIS Saturday, June 25 at 8:00am at the Rockwood School District Administrative Center, 111 East North Street, Eureka. This is a Board of Governance Meeting , open to the public. There is a 5 minute closed session that will reconvene at 8:10am to an open session.
Agenda items include the Board’s Role in Superintendent’s Evaluation, the Board’s Role in CSIP Development and Oversight, and the Board’s Role in Budget Development and Oversight. The full agenda can be seen at:

I urge all concerned taxpayers and parents in the Rockwood District to attend this meeting.


  1. Borchers (the newly-hired Super) has clearly stepped in it. Hopefully his tenure will be short-lived.

  2. After retiring from full time teaching, I moved into the Rockwood School District.  I do not have children or grandchildren in this district, but I have volunteered many times doing mathematic lessons or classroom sessions on Japanese culture for elementary students in several elementary schools in the Rockwood School District.

    Perhaps Dr. Borchers didn’t realize that Missouri is the “Show Me” state and Missourians have to be shown, but not shown by two outsiders from Minnesota and at a time when funds are scarce.  We do know when someone tries to pull a fast one. This maneuver by the superintendent is one of those. The two Minnesota consultants may know their subject, but there are plenty of highly qualified educators right in the St. Louis area and in this state who might help bring the Rockwood School District into the 21st century.  I believe educators in the Rockwood District know this district far better than two outsiders from Minnesota.  Why not give them a chance and at the same time save money?  Dr. Bruce Borchers needs to address the financial problems in the Rockwood School District before adding to them.  Perhaps he should have taken more mathematics courses rather than P.E. courses.

    By the way, what does the Rockwood Board of Education have to say?  They must have approved all this. I've always supported and voted in favor of school tax levies, but not this time!
    Anonymous please.

  3. I am a proud Rockwood School District resident. That said the recent results of both the Superintendent (past and current) and the Rockwood Board of Education (past and current) have been disappointing to say the least. They are both responsible for where we are today. We need sweeping reform and transparency at both levels. Accountability and responsibility are two words that Dr. Borchers and the Board of Education do not seem to understand. Specific to tax levies, enough!

  4. I am still baffled by the fact we hired a Supt. who lacked prior experience as at Supt. (not Asst.) leading a school district the size and scope of ours. We are in essence training Dr. Borchers on the job. It might of been different if it was an internal Asst. Supt. candidate who had some familiarity with the district. Lack of experience and leadership is becoming evident as time goes on. Specific to the Board of Education we need individuals who lead out in Corporate America (Executives) who understand what is needed in the preparation of our children for the future and understand fiscal responsibility and transparency.


Keep it clean and constructive. We reserve the right to delete comments that are profane, off topic, or spam.

Site Meter