Vindication: Mainstream media discovers Reese right about Broadmoor

by Jack Minor –

 

Former Greeley/Evans District 6 school board member Brett Reese says a recent story by a Denver television station was a perfect example of the type of fiscal mismanagement he tried to fight while serving on the board.

In a May 3 article “Education Administrators Live Large at the Broadmoor,” CBS 4 Denver reported on the excessive amount of money spent by school district officials at December’s annual Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) convention at the five-star Broadmoor hotel in Colorado Springs.

The event is attended not just by board members, but by superintendents and staff as well. The CBS 4 report noted about some of the excessive costs billed to taxpayers.

“One staff member charged $30 for a room service hamburger. Another charged $48.19 for a room service delivery of a plate of chicken and a glass of milk. Still another staff member submitted a room service bill for a single $30 mahi sandwich.”

CASB also fed 19 staff members lunch with the bill totaling $1,217.69 or $64 per person and a few days later a breakfast meeting for 22 staff members cost another $1,439.54 which came to over $65 per person.

CASB president Ken Delay responded to the costs by simply saying “That is the going rate at the Broadmoor.”

The report also noted that CASB also permits spouses and children to attend and the organization picks up the tab.

He defended the costs saying “It’s a decision I’ve made that that’s a fair additional compensation piece because of the extra time, work and effort to put on a great conference for our members.”

While the CBS 4 report on the excesses being committed by local school boards at a time of budget cutbacks and pleas for more tax increases is just now coming out, the Gazette broke the story several months back.

In a Dec. 6 article, prior to the convention, the Gazette noted that the cost for board members to attend was $150 per night and between dues and reimbursements for the convention the district spent over $21,000 to CASB for four board members and Superintendent Ranelle Lang with her $300,000 per year salary to attend the four day convention.

CASB is a lobbying organization that often advocates for increased government spending on education. CASB says it “advocates the interests of local boards of education to groups both within and outside the education community.” The group also states it provides structures for school board members to unite in promoting the interests and welfare of Colorado School Districts.

The Gazette noted that some of the sessions offered were intended to instruct board members on how to lobby for increased tax revenue.

 

Some of this year’s sessions were titled “The Game has Changed: What will it take to pass a bond and mill levy override in 2012?” “Changing the Constitution and other trivial matters” and “Unstuck and Maximizing Diversity.”

 

The convention appears to be a money maker for the lobbyist group, in 2011 it made over $103,000 in profit from the event.

 

Brett Reese, a former member of the school board who resigned earlier this year, said the information covered in the Gazette and then months later by CBS 4 are exactly the types of excesses he constantly tried to deal with as a board member.

 

“During my time on the board I brought this up every year and every year the other board members dismissed it,” Reese said. “This is just one example of how much wasteful spending there really is hidden within the school budget.”

Reese went on to note that whenever the issue was brought up he hit a wall of silence from local media outlets over the issue.

“I wrote columns to the Greeley Tribune over this issue multiple times and they not only refused to print them, they never even reported on the Broadmoor issue. However, they had no problem advocating for a tax increase to bring in more money to the district,” he said. “Expenditures like this are why residents are leery of giving this district any more money. Yet you watch, this summer they are going to say they need more money for school renovations. They need to
get their fiscal house in order first.”

While the Tribune does cover a significant amount of events in the district such as graduation ceremonies, student accomplishments and general stories on the budget it does not appear to investigate and report on questionable financial expenditures such as the Broadmoor.

Despite the Gazette’s report on the district spending over $21,000 for CASB and the convention, to this day the Tribune has apparently shown no interest in the subject.

The Gazette was also the only local news agency to report how one of the first orders of business for the new board following last year’s elections was to award a $137,000 contract to SlaterPaull Architects to conduct a facility master plan of all schools in the Greeley/Evans school district.

As part of the contract, SlaterPaull would help the district in the preparation of a Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grant. The BEST grant is a program that provides partial funding to local communities for school construction and renovation.

Adele Wilson, an architect with SlaterPaull is also on the state board that ultimately approves the BEST grant.

Reese said while the Broadmoor issue is bad enough, awarding the contract to SlaterPaull was another example of how the district plays fast and loose with the public’s money.

“SlaterPaull has a vested interest in seeing the price tag for the project go as high as possible, and they have an employee who is on the board that approves the grant come and make the sales pitch to the district,” Reese said. “I predict that based on their recommendations the district will be going to the public later this year pushing for a bond issue or mill levy override, and then SlaterPaull will probably be allowed to bid on the project their employee helped get state funding for. If that is not a conflict of interest I don’t know what is.”

The CBS 4 report also noted  the excessive amount spent by districts during their winter retreat in February  at the Brown Palace, which boasts it has hosted famous dignitaries such as kings, presidents and rock stars.

Delay claimed the sole reason for choosing this location was its proximity to the state capitol.

However, CBS 4 noted there were other hotels closer to the capitol and at cheaper rates.

“For February 2013, the Brown Palace, 1/3 of a mile from the Capitol, lists rates of $179 per night. A downtown Sheraton hotel, even closer to the Capitol, offers rates of $115 per night, the Warwick Hotel, also a third of a mile from the Capitol, has rooms for $109 per night.”

The Gazette also noted this several months ago. For the December article we contacted the Brown Palace and were also told the $179 rate, however the discounted rate for CASB members was slightly lower at $156 per night. The Brown Palace says they offer personal butlers “dedicated to your every whim and desire during your stay at the Palace.”

Reese says while he is glad the major media is finally waking up to excessive and wasteful spending by the school district he wonders what took them so long.

“For over two years I tried to get people to see how the board showed no interest in curbing wasteful spending and my warnings fell on deaf ears. Now that I’ve resigned the Denver media seem to have discovered what I have been saying all along,” he lamented. “My only question is what took them so long and why doesn’t the Tribune care about this issue?”

This entry was posted in General News, State / Local and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Vindication: Mainstream media discovers Reese right about Broadmoor

  1. exteacher says:

    Micro-managing…that is what Reese wanted to do during his tenure.

    Spending $21,000 out of the entire D6 budget is peanuts.

    If the conference helps the district obtain additional funding in excess of the $21,000 it sounds like money well spent to me.

    Do the math on that expediture vs the budget…even Reese should be able to see that.

  2. MrSpock says:

    “If the conference helps the district obtain additional funding in excess of the $21,000 it sounds like money well spent to me.”

    Where exactly does exteacher think this additional funding is coming from? It is coming from the same taxpayers who pay for the $30 hamburgers. I resent the idea that the average person in this district could not afford a trip to the Broadmoor and spend $65 on a meal, but we are supposed to be just fine with Lang making $300,000 a year and on top of this we pay for her meals at a resort that equals almost a month’s food budget for some families.
    This idea of “well it is only $21,000 so it doesn’t matter” is what is wrong with the district. That is the same mentality that people have with their finances where they say “well it is only $1 or $2 dollars so it doesn’t matter.” Well that adds up after awhile.

    I find it amazing that anyone can justify spending that kind of money and having someone else pay for it. If you want to go to the Broadmoor on your own dime fine, but if you are spending my money you have a responsibility to do it for the cheapest price possible.

    I find it interesting that Delay told 4 News that board members would not go to Trinidad. Why is that? That sounds like little babies saying it is not nice enough for us.

    Reese also pointed out the district should not build “Taj Mahal” buildings with all the pretty architecture. I agree the purpose for schools are to learn, not look at the pretty statues and architectural design. Any new schools should be simply a steel building with a blank façade on the outside. The same goes for any government buildings.

    Of course, I suppose ex-teacher probably criticizes those who shined a light on the GAO employees and their Las Vegas junket. After all, we should not micromanage those little amounts spent partying, it is just peanuts compared to their overall budget, right?

  3. Joanb says:

    exteacher If $21,000 is peanuts to you, I’d say you were making too much money teaching. A well-known, successful business man once said “If you worry about the pennies, the nickels will come!” Probably should have cut your wages only $21,000 and saved the dist. some peanuts..

  4. Stan Kerns says:

    The fact that District Six spends your money like water is only the symptom of the real problem–the District leadership have no judgement–to them one thing looks exactly like another. The Greeley West Horticulture program is one of the very few bright spots in the district–so they close it. Who cares if a roof over your head at a convention costs more than a teacher makes in a day? As for “New buildings”–the chances of that one passing the voters is identical to the Fourth Of July Parade being canceled by a blizzard. And paying the Super $300,000? Well, you wouldn’t want a cheap one would you? Did anybody else hear her attempt to speak at Chautauqua? If you check the Greeley School ratings at Colorado School Grades Dot Com you will soon learn just how bad things are–and you can Google up a couple of other school rating sites that will verify it for you. What we need is a stiff broom and a clean sweep. All that said, the folk in the trenches who have to cope with leaders devoid of vision, and a huge backlog of misdirection, are good people who are doing their best to implement a system that the school rating services will verify isn’t working.

  5. Steve says:

    Reese quit. No credibility (as if the guy who put his teenage daughter on his lap during meetings ever had any).

  6. Steve says:

    What is so much fun about this “article” is that Brett started this “newspaper” because, according to the light-footed Reese, the mainstream media was without credibility or value. Then, when a mainstream source reports with a perspective agreeable to Brett, he claims vindication of his own position by citing the mainstream media. The depths of human stupidity have yet to be plumbed.

  7. Joanb says:

    Brett Reese was concerned about students’ education first and the other first was that the money to educate the students wasn’t going to educate the students. An AMEN to Stan Kerns on how the money is wasted on fancy accommodations for conventions. Mr. Reese said the conventions should have been held in the gymnasiums of the big Denver schools instead of shelling out incredible amounts of money for high priced hotels. Again, that’s student education money going to waste. It’s ignorant to waste someone else’s money even in good times. Education can Always use a rainy day fund, you know! Apparently the time is now, since there seems to be a need for MORE taxes! But then it’s always FOR THE CHILDREN (and $65 lunches.)
    As far as school supt., I have YET to understand WHY she LOWERED graduation standards just to shove more students through the system! That is pathetic and she needed to be fired not given a raise. How does that teach students to achieve excellence and strive for more personal achievement? How does that benefit our community, state or nation? How does it benefit the student? She is promoting handouts and whining occupiers. As far as credibility for the main stream media, especially locally, that left the building a few years ago. This mainstream source isn’t promoting a perspective agreeable to Mr. Reese, it’s finally stating facts!!! To quote Steve, “The depths of human stupidity have yet to be plumbed!” A supt. or community Not wanting to draw the best out of the students fits that quote perfectly!

  8. Joanb says:

    I want to give a big shout-out to TRANSPARENCY! Something that didn’t exist not long ago. Amy Oliver, Brett Reese and anyone else who wants us to know where are tax money is and how it’s being spent. Anyway, I want to go to the Brown Palace for lunch at least one time. I heard that there are no prices on the menu, so apparently I can’t really afford to eat there. But I know who to call to let me know and I know how much I have to save to be able to afford to eat there!!! It will be on MY own nickel!!!!! Not yours!

  9. Here’s more commentary on this shameful nonsense:

    http://lajuntablog.blogspot.com/2012/12/casb-at-broadmoor.html

    http://lajuntablog.blogspot.com/2011/12/casbs-party-at-broadmoor.html

    $21,000 is ‘peanuts’?

    Really? $21,000 pulled out of my pockets and the pockets of my neighbors, to pay for CASB’s bash at The Broadmoor is … ‘peanuts?’

    You should run for Congress. You’d fit in well there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *