Superintendent attempts to silence Proposition P critics

By Mike Anthony

This newspaper and other Mehlville School District supporters had high hopes for the district’s future when Tim Ricker was named superintendent earlier this year.

But since beginning his duties July 1, Dr. Ricker has proved to be a major disappointment, particularly with his handling of the Proposition P crisis.

Make no mistake, the Proposition P situation has reached crisis proportions as the actions of Mehlville administrators and Board of Education members have undermined the public’s confidence in the school district.

Perhaps we shouldn’t discuss the administration’s failure to disclose information to the Proposition P Oversight Committee and the public about the true cost of Prop P — more than $86.7 million — not to mention discrepancies, sloppiness and questionable compliance with district policy.

Instead of openly and honestly addressing these concerns, Dr. Ricker has attempted to silence those critical of the way the administration has handled Prop P. Just consider his attempted coup d’etat of the Oversight Committee, forcing the panel to vote on new leadership in an effort to oust Chairman Chuck Van Gronigen and Vice Chairman Gloria Brazell.

Both Mr. Van Gronigen and Mrs. Brazell have convincingly contended that administrators did not provide full disclosure to the Oversight Committee of the total estimated cost of the districtwide building improvement program and related projects.

Under a recently approved board policy, neither district employees nor board members can serve in leadership roles on the oversight panel. Because Mrs. Brazell is a district teacher, she could no longer serve as vice chairman, a post she had held since the panel’s second meeting. She elected to resign from the panel. We can’t say we blame her, but hope she continues to keep a watchful eye on Proposition P.

Mr. Van Gronigen, the man who proposed the Oversight Committee, wasn’t treated much better, though he retained his chairman’s post. The fact that Dr. Ricker allowed Assistant Superintendent Randy Charles to nominate someone else for the chairman’s post simply is disgraceful.

By his actions, Dr. Ricker has proved his entire administration needs a great deal of oversight. In Crestwood, there’s some talk of a state audit. We believe city officials there are getting their house in order. A more appropriate call for a state audit would be one for the Mehlville School District and its Prop P program.