Editor's note: the following letter is addressed to the Echo School Board and read before the board at its meeting, Oct. 19, 2009.
I come before the Echo School board out of concern for our community.
Last week I attended a work shop that was advertised as setting goals for our school. The theme of the work shop was trust. I never heard one thing about goals to help our teachers or students to do a better job, only how we could maybe set up different committees. I walked away feeling it was a waste of time. You don't teach trust you earn it.
I do not trust this administration.
When I found many large and small mathematical errors on the budget, I brought it before the budget committee and I was told to summit questions in writing and (Echo schools superintendent Rob Waite) would answer me in writing.
He never did respond directly to me and denied that he said he would. What amazed me is the board passed the budget no questions asked.
When I noticed the superintendent had put on his blog an increase in test scores from last year, I was pleased. But my old instincts kicked in. Trust but verify.
I checked the Oregon Department of Education scores online. His reading scores were the same (except he omitted the four classes that went down and only highlighted the three that went up).
I could have lived with that, but when I compared the math scores he listed they were completely different from the report from O.D.E.
I was told the proper steps if you have a question is to talk it over with Mr. Waite and if you don't get satisfaction to come to the board. So being the good community member that I am I made an appointment with Mr. Waite.
Let me set the stage for how I was treated at the meeting: First he had a person there to take notes. Second, he wouldn't start the meeting without a witness. Third, he tape recorded the meeting. I asked him for a copy of the tape, and he said no.
All I really wanted when I entered that room was for him to show me how he arrived at the math figures that showed improvement when all of O.D.E. figures show we went down. He said he had a special formula but he couldn't show it to me, because it would involve students. I asked him to use A B and C. He said no, it was too small of a school.
I got no satisfaction, so I asked to be on the agenda for this board meeting. He asked if I had a motion. He said if I didn't have an actionable motion for the board to vote on I couldn't be on the agenda. I know my voice got louder because by the time I left I was mad. Did I leave with trust in my heart - NO!
With the information he gave me, I must assume he made up the improved test scores.
As board members, you represent me (the tax payer,) the children and the community. Not the district. Not the superintendent. We elect you to be our advocate for better education. To make sure our tax money is being spent to best benefit the students. You are the boss. What this district does or doesn't do falls on you.