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The Lake News Online
  • Politics plague Camdenton school district

  • According to some, the fallout from a recent controversy involving a federal grant application for Camdenton R-III could have a long term impact on the district's ability to explore additional funding sources.
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  • According to some, the fallout from a recent controversy involving a federal grant application for Camdenton R-III could have a long term impact on the district's ability to explore additional funding sources.
    The resignation of Assistant Deputy Superintendent Brian Henry has sparked a heated discussion among many in the Camdenton School District who feel the split among board members and educational philosophies is causing irreparable harm and could impact finances.
    As allegations surface in the wake of Henry's resignation, there appears to be some associated with the school who feel the actions of three of school board members played a significant role in Henry's decision — to the point that Henry was willing to accept a lower salary to move to a nearby district, distancing himself from the growing interference of some school board members, they said.
    In an interview with the Lake Sun earlier this week, Henry cited "politics" as an issue in his leaving his position.
    According to undisclosed sources close to the Camdenton Board of Education, no one with the district seems to be exempt from the "politics" of some members.
    The discussion earlier this fall about the Race to the Top grant was an example of how those board members micromanage and treat staff members who were seeking federal money to fund programs.
    Much of the criticism surrounding the pursuance of the grant centered around federal involvement in the school and the strings tied to accepting grant money. Board member Laura Martin was the most outspoken opponent of the application, citing concerns over a lack of grant information and what she felt were strings attached to the funding.
    As a result, those sources say staff members are no longer looking for grants to fund new programs because there is a perception that three members of the board were not only opposed to the Race to the Top but are against federal funding and intrusion of government in general.
    If that continues, sources say, the district will find itself losing out on potential funding that could be used to help students succeed and at some point, that could cost locally.
    In addition to citing philosophical opposition to government grants as a reason not to seek them, time and emotional toll was also cited. One source said the treatment of staff by board members Laura Martin, John Beckett and Jim Besancenez, also a former teacher, during the recent grant controversy was "unconscionable."
    Some staff were not only subjected to a barrage of questions but had their ethics, abilities and loyalties to the district scrutinized as well.
    As a result, staff members have stated that because of the treatment and lack of belief of acceptance, they would not be submitting grants in the future.
    Page 2 of 2 - Like other districts across the state, Camdenton has looked to federal grant programs for new sources of funding.
    The district relies on federal funding for about 13 percent of their total budget. Currently the federal free and reduced food program serves 55 percent of the 4,000 students in the district. The after school program funded through a federal grant offers academic assistance, robotics, driver education on the high school level, and a host of other programs to 950 students.
     
    Examples of what federal monies fund:
    (list not inclusive)
     
     
    Professional Development
    Smaller Classroom sizes
    Assistance for English Language Learners
    Assistance for Homeless and Neglected Students
    Special Education
    Federal Lunch and Breakfast Programs
    Perkins Funding for LCTC
    21st Century Grant Funds for Afterschool Activities
    Adult Education
    Early Childhood Special Education
    A Secure Our Schools Grant Program to install security upgrades
     
     
     

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