Mehlville experience not a learning one for Ricker

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\”Call the Tune\” by Mike Anthony

Without a doubt, we believe history will judge Tim Ricker to be one of the worst superintendents in the history of the Mehlville School District.

As readers may recall, Ricker’s short tenure as superintendent — from July 1, 2003, through June 30, 2006 — was a three-year nightmare.

Of course, Ricker wasn’t solely responsible. No, he was aided and abetted by a majority of the then-school board. Fortunately, those members have been ousted from office in historical defeats or wisely decided not to seek re-election.

But the damage they did in a relatively short period was monumental, alienating longtime supporters, seriously eroding residents’ trust in the district’s leadership by painting a distorted picture of the district’s finances and causing some parents great anguish with their retaliatory — and unnecessary — decision to charge $375 per student for bus transportation.

After bringing Mehlville to the brink of disaster, Ricker “retired” two days after a 97-cent tax-rate increase was defeated by voters.

In a letter to the board, Ricker said he was resigning to take “full advantage” of the state’s retirement system for public school employees and emphasized his decision was not related to the historical defeat of the 97-cent tax-rate increase. Yeah, right.

And less than a week after the Mehlville board accepted his “retirement,” the Lemont-Bromberek Combined School District 113A Board of Education in Lemont, Ill., voted unanimously to hire Ricker as superintendent, effective July 1, 2006. Lemont-Bromberek is an elementary district with four schools.

So how’s that been working out for Ricker? Apparently he’s been doing as good a job there as he did in Mehlville.

As we wrote this column Monday, Ricker’s board was scheduled to vote that night on whether to ask voters to approve a tax-rate increase of 40 to 50 cents to “help shore up the district’s $2 million shortfall and avoid making major cuts in staff and programs,” according to the Lemont Reporter/Met newspaper. That same newspaper published a Nov. 20 editorial about Ricker’s district headlined: “District’s peculiar financial practices need explanation.”

Sound familiar? But don’t worry about Ricker. In its infinite wisdom, his board voted last year to extend his contract until June 30, 2013.

We extend our condolences to residents of the Lemont-Bromberek Combined School District 113A.