by Jack Minor –
Officials with School District 6 say the district had received funds for asbestos abatement for schools such as John Evans some years ago from a lawsuit, but now there is no record of the settlement or how the funds were spent.
An elected official, who wishes to remain anonymous, says he asked Wayne Eads, the Greeley/Evans chief operations officer, at a Republican breakfast on Oct. 10 if the district had ever considered applying for a federal grant to help with the cost of asbestos removal at John Evans.
According to the official, Eads told him the district had applied for and received funding for asbestos removal for John Evans. When he asked Eads what happened to the funds from the grant, Eads did not have an answer.
The official has also contacted school board member, Scott Rankin, who said he was looking into the issue.
“This is an important issue for voters. If the district has received any amount of money for asbestos abatement, whether a small amount or a larger amount, the people of this district have a right to know about it.”
Theresa Myers, communications director for the district, said Eads’ statement to the official may have been referring to a class action lawsuit the district was part of.
“Wayne recalls that in the early 1990′s, there may have been a class action lawsuit that the district was part of and that we did receive some money for asbestos abatement,” Myers said.
However, she went on to say the district has no records of where the money went. The district has estimated it will cost $900,000 for asbestos removal from the school prior to demolition.
“There are no records of that possible settlement that we can find, and the money was spent long ago where it was most needed at the time. Wayne said there has been no money given to the district for asbestos abatement in the last 15 years, probably longer.”
She went on to say the district had never received money for asbestos abatement at John Evans.
Rankin said he acknowledges that the public has a right to be skeptical when it comes to the financial dealing with the district and that previous members of the school board did not do all they could to foster a culture of transparency, but he and other members are working hard to change that.
“I am totally about transparency, the voters should have the right to ask any question and receive an answer.”
Judy Kron, who has been on the board of education since 2005, admitted they have done things in the past to cause voters to be leery of anything the board says. “Frankly, there are a lot of people in the district who just don’t trust us,” Kron said at a recent board meeting.
The district is asking voters to approve 3A, a bond issue to raise $8.2 million to meet the qualifications for an application for a BEST grant from the state. The district has not yet received the grant however, one of the conditions for receiving it is the passage of the bond issue. If the grant is granted, the state will provide approximately $21 million to pay for the cost of a replacement school for John Evans on the west side of town.