Friday, November 15, 2013

$100,000 of Taxpayer Money is NOT for Donating BUT Personal Checks Accepted

Hi All,
Tonight (11-14-13)  at the Bloomfield Hills School District (BHSD) Board of Education meeting there was an agenda item to approve a donation of $100,000 of our school tax dollars to the Bloomfield Hills School Foundation... a 501(c) (3) organization. 

A check of the school website prior to the meeting brought up a Foundation link,  but a job posting for an executive director was all the information given.  No list of board members and no information  about their mission or goals.  I did request (after the meeting) that someone should put something about the Foundation on the school website.  It will be interesting to see what shows on the site in the near future.

I spoke during "Public Comment"  at the Board of Education meeting about:
why the Board should NOT approve the donation of $100,000 tax dollars to a 501(c)(3)

'Public comment"  is at a strange time on the agenda ... I had to comment BEFORE the agenda item was ever discussed.  I was hoping to learn more and THEN comment.  However, the $100,000 request was the last item on the agenda. 

The discussion among the board members on this last item continued for one hour.  $100,000 is a lot of money.  I was permitted to ask during the discussion who were the Board members of the Foundation and to ask what was the mission statement.

The 11/14/13 meeting can be viewed on the school CABLE channel at 2pm  and 7 pm. for the next few days or... at this link .  The entire meeting took three long hours.  

I learned that the board members of this BHS Foundation are:  BHSD Superintendent Robert Glass; BHSD Board of Education President, Ingrid Day; BHSD Board Treasurer, Cynthia von Oeyen; BHSD Assistant Superintendent and CPA, Tina Kostiak;  48th District Judge, Marc Barron: and active community members: David Fink and Sue Nine. 

I wondered during the discussion if school trustees Day and von Oeyen and at the same time Foundation trustees would state they had a conflict of interest if a vote came up.  It was not an issue because:   The BHS Foundation did NOT get the money from the school board... and in my opinion... rightly so.   In the end, no motion was voted on... and the discussion ended.

The BHS Foundation apparently began in 2007.  It has been inactive for the past two years or so, but according to this meeting agenda request for $100,000 .... the Foundation trustees would like to begin again and need "seed" money. 

Mentioned during discussion, the BHS Foundation has a current balance in the bank of $50,000.  They wanted another $100,000 from the school district.... mainly to hire an executive director for the Foundation and set the goals for future events.

If the Foundation board members thought there was such an overwhelming support from the BHSD community for this Foundation.... why not seek out donations from those supporters for the "seed" money in some other way?

Is it because it is easier to ask for and perhaps approve tax dollar donations while sitting on both boards of directors/trustees?  Same people asking as granting funds?

I heard during the discussion that one of the stated goals of the BHSD school board was to "support their Superintendent".

Apparently Rob Glass had worked hard on this BHS Foundation project for quite some time and some members seemed to feel that giving this $100,000 donation was therefore needed to show that they support Rob Glass.  Yikes.

While the project of a Foundation is a worthy cause ....using tax dollars collected for another purpose ...  to fund any charitable cause... is not right.  Rejecting the $100,000 donation just shows responsible school trustees... and not a lack of support for a person.

The BHSD Board of Education members, I am pleased to say, ...eventually.... took no action on this agenda item.   The $100,000 is still in the school account where it belongs.  However,  I expect this issue to resurface.

For the record:  A Foundation to support EDUCATION is a good idea.  The excitement and leadership should come from the community members... be spontaneous and enthusiastic.... filling a need if there is one.... making sure the children of our community have support and opportunities. School board members should be at arms length... not making monetary requests on behalf of the Foundation charity ... getting the dollars from the school board taxpayer funds they manage.

 IF... anyone in the community agrees with whatever stated needs or goals of the Foundation,  the community member can write a generous personal check and claim the legal charitable deduction at income tax time. 

So how about a challenge to the BHSD community?  If you think the BHS Foundation is a good idea... make a donation to BHS  

If you would like to see this Foundation operate again for the children, the Foundation board of directors need to hire an executive director.  They so happen to have just accepted applications/ resumes and the Foundation Board has apparently identified a good candidate.  The Foundation can't really offer that person a job... with only the $50,000 current bank balance.

So, are you willing to make a donation to the BHS Foundation?  We're nearing the end of the year.  Good time to make those charitable gifts. You can surely contact the school Superintendent, or others on the Foundation Board.   There are many different ways one can donate.  Are you interested in serving on this Foundation board?  Give them a call.

As for me, I'm very happy that the BHSD still has the taxpayers'  $100,000 dollars for education in the right bank account.    
The BHS Foundation did NOT get the money from the school board... and in my opinion... rightly so.

This is not the first time taxpayer money has been requested for charities by elected officials:   It may be the first time it didn't get approved.

The seemingly common practice in the Bloomfield communities... both municipal and schools...   of our elected leaders.... serving not only their constituents but also serving charitable causes.....  should realize....   that tax dollars collected for a certain legal and specified purpose.... should not be donated to the various charities they help manage/lead. 

Are you listening Bloomfield Township Trustees?

My opinion.
Marcia Robovitsky

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