Records show payout, board mum, community outraged

From the Blackfoot Morning News


Patrons and school teachers are reacting to the news that Blackfoot School District officials denied Joyce Bingham’s request to view copies of a payout from the school district’s bank account in the amount of $105,428 on July 2, 2012.

Bingham discovered the payout while examining public records. The payment was made through Zion’s Bank (Salt Lake City, UT) and is noted on the expenditure description as AP Contract Services.

Bingham, a former Blackfoot High School teacher, made her request to the school board last month and was informed last Friday via a letter from interim superintendent Chad Struhs that “the issue is regarding personnel and that under the advisement of the district’s attorney, her request was denied.”

Bingham was advised that if she wishes to pursue this matter that she should seek legal counsel. Sarah Condon, a third grade teacher at Stalker Elementary School and co-president of the Blackfoot Education Association (BEA), said she and other teachers in the district “want to know where this money went.”

“This is a concern,” Condon said, “especially because of the tight budget the school’s are contending with this year.

“There are rumors going around that they [the school district] paid off [former superintendent] Scott Crane,” she went on. “I don’t know if this true or not but the way they’re keeping this quiet, someone needs to look into the rumors. I hope she [Bingham] continues to pursue this.”

Bobbie Steffenson, a BEA member and employee at Mountain View Middle School agreed, saying, “this is a situation that warrants an investigation especially with the cuts that the district has endured.”

“We’ve had programs cut; people have lost jobs; supplies are limited…we can’t even order new textbooks,” she said. “That money could’ve paid for a lot of things.”

Patrons are weighing in on Facebook as well, speculating on what the payout may have been used for.?    Emily Harrington posted: “They are trying to hide the fact that they paid Mr. [Scott] Crane his bonus even though he didn’t fulfill his contract…I’d put money on it. You know dang well that this is what they’re hiding or they would’ve made it public already.”

Josh Christiansen posted: “And they say there is no money for field trips? They should be ashamed of themselves.”

Attempts were made to reach interim superintendent Chad Struhs, former superintendent Crane and members of the school board by phone. Board trustee, Mary Jo Marlow, was the only one reached by telephone; however, she declined to comment on the subject at this time. None of the others returned calls.

From the Blackfoot Morning News

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