Dennis Kennealy has started a campaign to request accountability and transparency from the Iola-Scandinavia School Board.
“Our group has had concerns for a while,” stated Kennealy, who moved to Iola two years ago but has been involved with the community for the past 11 years. “There has been a steadily increasing lack of accountability and transparency from the currently seated and potentially some of the prior seated boards here in the I-S district.”
He claims to have about 200 or 300 backers of his Parents4ThunderbirdKids online campaign.
“It’s a large enough number to make a difference and get a recall if needed,” he stated. “We want the board to act like a board and take charge of the district in these challenging and changing times.”
Kennealy has challenged the school board to provide “full and complete disclosure of the current contracts in place for the administrative positions, including separation packages that include termination and/or resignation. These administrative positions include district administrator, middle and high school principal, elementary principal, buildings and grounds director, fitness and aquatic center director, business manager, transportation director and food service director.
Kennealy and his backers claim that at least six of these administrative contracts include “golden parachute” retirement benefits. According to Kennealy, there is no way to budget for the current administration’s “golden parachute” retirement benefits, which could impact taxpayers for the next 18 years.
Another item the Parents4ThunderbirdKids list as an area of concern is “the lack of transparency and accountability of the board and their failure to oversee the action of administration level people in allowing a threatening and at times hostile environment for subordinates and community members alike.”
If things don’t change, the Parents4ThunderbirdKids would consider plans “to file a temporary order to prevent the board from entering into or dealing with any business until a new board/recall is completed other than essential day-to-day (business), and temporarily invalidating current (administrative) contracts until a full disclosure of the Wisconsin Open Meeting law can be reviewed surrounding the placement of those contracts.”
The Parents4ThunderbirdKids group includes two school board candidates running in the April 5 election: Bruce Beyersdorf and Jeff Oppor.
When asked about Kennealy, Beyersdorf stated, “He’s a solid voice that wants to be heard.”
Kennealy was asked why the group is demanding a total board recall instead of working hard to win board positions in the April 5 election. “They are worried that some board members could resign with new ones being appointed as per policy and not go through an open election at that point,” he explained. “Also, the group is concerned that certain administrative employees will opt for early retirement before their ‘golden parachute’ retirement benefits can be questioned.”
The Parents4ThunderbirdKids would also like to see the board approve an emergency session to negotiate the teacher’s contract before the new collective bargaining bill becomes law. “It may allow the district more information from teachers who may wish to retire and thus would help the tax/budget burden facing the district currently,” Kennealy stated. “The (school district’s) budget issue could potentially fix itself with teacher retirements and good negotiations prior to the budget bill being passed.” He explained this has been seen recently in a number of districts throughout the state.
Kennealy is the general manager of a custom manufacturing company, Membrane Process & Controls Inc. in Edgar. He plans to run for the school board in 2012.