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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

FORUM ATTRACTS A CROWD

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Monday night (10-09-2012) approximately 75 parents, citizens and employees of the school district gather for a public forum called by the KISD Board of Trustees. The purpose of the forum was to gain public input into the fees charged to non-school organizations. The fee structure has become an issue when questions were raised about the relationship an after-school program called I-Zone had with the school district and the fees charged for I-Zone?s use of school facilities. See earlier article ?After School Program Center of Controversy?. After an investigation by the Texas Education Agency and the district?s attorney showed nothing was illegal in the relationship the Board felt that it needed to review its fee structure and asked for input from the public. {{more}}

Nearly a dozen speakers rose to address the Board. Several represented organizations among them were the Kennedale Youth Association (KYA), Boys Scout Troop 35 of Kennedale, and the Miniature Basketball Association (MBA). Others spoke as parents who received benefits because their children were involved in music tutoring or the after school program. No one called for higher fees. However one speaker, Anita Rolland, questioned the profit margin that she felt existed with the I Zone program which exist as a for profit business and the reduce fee charged for facility usage to I Zone. She felt that future agreements between the district and I Zone should take that in consideration and in this case a higher fee would be appropriate. Another speaker, Elisha Woodson, rose to say that this issue was caused by a lack of transparency on the part of the school district. She cited the board meeting in which this issue of the after-school program was first on the agenda in May or June. She said an opportunity was missed to have an open discussion but the Board chose to close off any discussion. She said that she had discovered later how I-Zone had actually spent money and contributed back to the district. She wasn?t critical of the program. She felt that the district could have solved this problem earlier by being more open. Her suggestion was to treated I-Zone as a ?vendor? so that all records would be open and available and it could be a competitive situation. Julie Eaklor, a teacher and a former employee of I Zone spoke out in defense of the I-Zone as a quality program that does much more than ?stand around talking while the kids play with a ball?. Karen Fennel spoke as a parent with 4 children enrolled in KISD. She ?liked the schools but disliked the bickering?. She spoke in favor of the private lessons available at the schools and would not like to see those fees changed. She mentioned the success that the high school band program has had and continues to have. She ended by asking that ?any benefit giving to one group be given to all?.

Board President Dr. Mike Walker ended the forum by saying that all of this has come about because a former disgruntled employee, who had resigned, had promised to ?get? Associate Superintendent Karen Furman. Dr. Furman and Jan Cleere, another KISD administrator, are the owners of I-Zone. Dr. Walker then asked Associate Superintendent Rick Edwards to give a report on the cost to the district in cost of paperwork and manpower to answer the charges. Mr. Edwards cited 16 public records requests of multiple pages, employee hours, and attorney fees at a cost of $34,000. Dr. Walker asked Mr. Edwards had all request for information be honored and Mr. Edward responded ?yes?. Dr. Walker thanked everyone for coming and said that the issue will be place on the agenda at the next regular board meeting in October and encouraged everyone to attend. The next regular board meetings is on October 18, at 7:30 pm in the Kennedale Media Center located at the Kennedale Athletic Complex on the high school campus, 901 Wildcat Way, Kennedale, TX 76060.

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