IASB exec placed on leave

The Iowa Association of School Boards is under scrutiny. Its leaders are to appear at a Legislative Oversight Committee “hearing” on Monday afternoon.  Tonight the association issued a news release with some late-breaking information about the group’s executive director and since she’s been placed on administrative leave, she may not be appearing at Monday’s hearing.  Read the IASB news release below.

Des Moines, IA (March 11, 2010) – The Iowa Association of School Boards’ Board of Directors took several actions Wednesday and Thursday during a meeting in Des Moines to continue evaluation of the organization’s finances and to address allegations of wrongdoing that have surfaced in whistleblower complaints.

In addition, they voted to hold member dues at their current rate or lower them if possible, in order to help districts deal with the 10 percent across-the-board cut announced last fall; the Board also emphasized that many of IASB’s programs that help stretch tax dollars continue to be strong and secure.

The board:
• Retained Brick Gentry P.C. as outside legal counsel to investigate all whistleblower complaints and other allegations.
• Placed IASB executive director Maxine Kilcrease on administrative leave, until an investigation into all allegations is complete.
• Appointed Harry Heiligenthal, IASB’s leadership development director, as the interim director of the organization. Harry has worked for IASB, out in the field with boards, for 10 years. He has done extensive board training with boards in the Lighthouse program and works on IASB’s research team. He is a former middle and high school teacher and principal.
• Voted not to increase member dues for the 2010-11 school year; the Board may in fact choose to lower them to help districts weather the 10 percent across-the-board cut announced by the governor last fall, but will wait to decide whether that is feasible until after they’ve heard all financial reports. The Board has been discussing lowering dues since that across-the-board cut was announced last fall.
• Will continue using the outside services of LWBJ Financial to conduct accounting services and Brooks Lodden to complete the annual audit. We expect the 2009 audit to be completed in May.
• Strengthened internal financial controls by, among other things, adding new board member Roger Shaffer of Sumner, who is a certified public accountant, to the audit committee.
“The IASB Board and staff are working long hours and are committed to dealing with this financial situation so we can get back to focusing on our top priority, which is our members and quality education for all kids,” said Russ Wiesley, IASB board president and a Waukee school board member. “Although IASB is currently also managing its own difficult financial situation, we want to emphasize that many of our services to members are incredibly beneficial, financially and otherwise. To address financial stewardship, districts are about to receive their Safety Group Insurance Program dividends, which typically outweigh their dues by far and stretch tax dollars to the benefit of the public.”
A spreadsheet that shows what every school district pays in dues, and the dividends they will receive this spring through the Safety Group Insurance Program, will be made available today at
www.ia-sb.org. The Safety Group Insurance Program allows schools to pool their buying power and receive lower insurance rates and better coverage than they could get alone; in addition, districts receive a dividend back at the end of the year, based on the premium they put into the group. Dues are calculated based on enrollment.
The Independence school district, for example, paid $4,805 in dues last year and received a dividend of $20,262. The Dubuque school district paid $10,366 in dues last year and received a dividend of $150,031. The Safety Group is only one of several IASB programs that help schools make the most of their taxpayer dollars in a responsible way. On the non-financial side, IASB also provides many valuable services for its dues-paying members, ranging from legal and policy advice to training for newly elected board members. A few other examples of district savings are highlighted below, to illustrate what various districts gain from IASB.
Burlington CSD    Dues: $10,366     Dividend: $25,290
Cedar Rapids CSD       Dues: $10,366     Dividend: $84,522
College CSD     Dues: $10,366     Dividend: $87,488
Council Bluffs CSD      Dues: $10,366     Dividend: $33,196
Dubuque CSD               Dues: $10,366     Dividend: $150,031
Fairfield CSD                Dues: $5,887       Dividend: $32,213
Independence CSD       Dues: $4,805      Dividend: $20,262
“The Safety Group is one of the valuable services IASB provides for its member schools. When you think it’s a 3 to 1 here in Council Bluffs, that helps us stretch our tax dollars further,” said Marvin Arnpriester, Council Bluffs school board president. “That’s $20,000 last year, which is a partial teacher salary or books we’re able to buy, that’s what we’re talking about. When we look at what we pay in dues and what is paid back, it feels good.”
Melissa Kiliper-Ernst, the Cedar Rapids school board president, echoed that. “IASB has provided many valuable services to school districts over the years,” she said. “We look forward to the resolution of their current financial issues and the resumption of trust, fiscal responsibility, and high quality service.”

IASB is a private, nonprofit organization representing Iowa’s 361 school districts,
10 area education agencies and 15 community colleges.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.