FORT MADISON – A Fort Madison School board member is speaking up about the recent decision to end shared athletic programs with other area schools.
The Fort Madison Community School District board of Directors issued a statement earlier this week saying it had decided to let all shared athletic agreements expire at the end of the 2022-23 school year athletic calendar.
That decision, which was never voted on by the board, is a decision board member Carol Ross said she was unaware of until the statement came out.
Ross said on Thursday that she had reached out to Fort Madison Superintendent Dr. Erin Slater about the issue earlier this week and didn’t hear back from her until Friday. Slater’s response was for Ross to talk with Board president Josh Wykert.
Ross said she emailed Wykert Wednesday to have the issue put on the agenda and received a reply that it would not be placed on the agenda.
“I asked the superintendent when this board “decision” was made a few days ago since I wasn’t aware of a decision,” Ross wrote in a text to Pen City Current.
“I think it makes us look petty. I also don’t think vouchers and sharing sports should have anything to do with each other. I still feel it should be discussed and voted on by the board in a meeting.
“I’m personally in favor of renewing the sharing agreements with HTC. I thought it was going to be on the 4/17 agenda to discuss and vote on.”
Ross said she’s also concerned about the impact of the move on relations with Holy Trinity moving forward.
“This is also creating an adversarial relationship between FM and HTC that doesn’t need to exist,” she said.
Pen City Current attempted to reach Wykert, Vice President Mio Santiago, and board members Paul Wilkerson and Brad Menke for comment.
Wilkerson said he too asked that it be placed on the agenda for Monday’s meeting but was told by Wykert that the board had a policy and the request didn’t fit the policy. He also said the board was briefed on the shared program issue, but no official action was taken.
“There’s a policy that (the request) has to be 14 days in advance and has to come from four board members. I was not aware of that policy, but I did request that it be put on and was told it wouldn’t be.”
Wilkerson said the board was briefed on the shared agreement status, but did not take any formal action so he was not aware of any official board action at the time the statement was released Tuesday.
“They briefed us on that, but as far as any official message or email or notification, as far as I know, no,” Wilkerson said.
Wykert provided in an email to Pen City Current Friday that the board approved a policy in February requiring at least four board members to request an item be placed on the agenda, and they needed to provide 14 days’ notice.
Wykert, who as president sets the agendas for the meeting, chose to not address in the email several questions as to why he felt as president the issue didn’t fit criteria for a board discussion, or how the board made a decision when two board members claimed to not know a decision had been made.
Several state officials, including State Sen. Jeff Reichman and Iowa Freedom of Information Council Executive Director Randy Evans, have weighed in saying the board hasn’t been transparent in the process involved in making the decision.
The board issued a statement Tuesday indicating the board had made a decision to let all shared athletic program agreements expire at the end of the 2022-23 school year athletic calendar.
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