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ROD HALL: Put board members back in control on fine arts center proposal

Only the Mitchell Board of Education can slow up what The Daily Republic implies is a “runaway train.” The action of the board on April 14 cannot be referred to and voted on by the taxpayers. At 5:38 p.m., Superintendent Joe Graves started to explain Item X, and at 5:42 p.m., Graves’ explanation was fi nished. That was a total of 4 minutes. Think of it. It was for spending $13.5 million, plus unknown interest.

By 5:46 p.m., the board offi cially approved Item X. This was another 4 minutes for spending without public oversight, or vote, $13.5 million, plus unknown interest.

Plans made, copyrighted and printed were done in 2011, almost four years ago. Where are offi cial board minutes which authorized Puetz Corp. to draw those plans, and what payment was agreed upon?

The $6.5 million in private contributions was nothing more than a pipe dream of Graves. Instead of borrowing $7 million from capital outlay certifi cates, it would now be $13.5 million. It would take 20 years to pay that debt. Those debts would not be paid until 2035, 10 years after the new high school is built in 2025. The new high school would only cost $17.4 million and the present high school building would need to be demolished. That could be millions more. Do you see why Graves does not encourage public discussions where intelligent and interested persons would shoot holes in his faulty plans?

The money for the new high school would have to come by passing a bond issue. Mitchell voters have long since forgotten how to vote on bond issues. How many baby boomers even know how to plan, campaign and pass a bond issue? Had there been public voting on the new Joe Quintal Stadium, or on the new fancy Longfellow building, or even on L.B. Williams and Gertie Belle Rogers schools, the school board might have learned how to pass bond issues.

Three facts emerged from the last school board meeting. They are:

? The present board action prohibits a public vote on a new fi ne arts center.

? The Corn Palace could accommodate much larger audiences than the fi ne arts center.

? Graves was unable to raise $6.5 million in private donations.

I would ask The Daily Republic to spearhead groups of citizens to go to Brookings and see what $5 to $6 million did for them and could do for Mitchell. Do it in three years rather than 10 and save $40 to $50 million.

To get anything done, those who are concerned about excessive taxes for unnecessary expenditures must call their four board members day and night. If only three of the four board members have common sense to lead Graves, rather than to be led by Graves, a disaster may be prevented. It must be made perfectly clear that those four board members have the absolute control over this impending debacle. When running for election, they promised to listen to you and be a watchdog on your taxes. Now is your chance, but please be courteous and fi rm.

Ask how Brookings got several interested architectural firms to compete, and how much did that request cost the Brookings school district? The world is learning how Putin works in Russia. We must do better in Mitchell, because we are a democracy.

These four board members can take phone calls. You must make them listen to your concerns and make reasonable decisions: Theresa Kriese, 996-8141 or 995-2621; Dana Price, 996-1428; Neil Putnam, 996-7410 or 995-8433; Deb Olson, 996-8584.

The boards members need to get out of the caboose and get Graves out of the locomotive cockpit to prevent a train wreck. Graves would be better as the conductor.