My name is Sally Allee. I worked at the Del Norte School District for over 30 years. I worked as secretary at the high school, elementary school and at the end of my employment I worked in the superintendent’s office.
The last 6 years I worked in the superintendent’s office. I was the secretary for Mr. Burr for approximately 15 months, and prior to that, I was the secretary to Mr. Smith for 5 years. I am giving you this information so I can establish that I am speaking from my own experiences as an employee of the Del Norte School District and as secretary to the superintendent.
There have been several articles and letters to the editor in the recent weeks concerning school owned property being sold to an employee. I believe when the original article came out it was the result of a respected community member having legitimate questions concerning how this came about. We as community members have every right to ask questions and voice our concerns. We are the taxpayers and we are responsible to see that the school district spends our money in an ethical and legal manner.
When I worked as the superintendent secretary it was my job to be present at board meetings and take minutes. If I ever had to be gone (while working with Mr. Smith) – for whatever reason – someone was left in charge of taking minutes. It was the superintendent or our financial officer in most cases. Then on the following workday, I along with whomever completed the minutes, would talk and I would know exactly what had taken place at the meeting after I left. If a topic required a vote, the voting process took place in open session, even when it had been discussed in executive session. Every time I typed school board minutes; I attached a copy of any handwritten notes. I wanted there to be no question about what had been discussed and how it was recorded.
Any item being sold by the school – large, small, cars or equipment anything that belonged to the school district had to be put out for bids. I know this – I ran the ads – I know how we had to handle the sale of anything in an open and transparent manner! Ads were run for 2 weeks and a deadline was set as to when bids must be turned in at the superintendent’s office. Bids were viewed by more than 1 person so there was no question about how much the item was sold for and to whom.
The question not answered is, “Why wasn’t the land put out for bid to the community?” Plain and simple. I completely believe there would be local people who would have liked the opportunity to bid openly for the property in question. This isn’t a discussion about how much it will cost to build on the land or how it will be used. The question is why wasn’t it put out for bid to the community?
We have been given excuses and explanations that make no sense to me. Hemp industries, halfway houses – come on! The question is about how property owned by the school district was sold to an employee without going through a bidding process. We were told this was discussed at length in executive session. However, when a vote is needed it must be done in open session. I completely believe an open vote was needed in order to comply with policy. There are just too many questions and every question leads to more questions.
I believe Mr. Haefeli was honest and sincere when he asked how this transaction occurred and we all have the right to know and understand how our school district and BOE are handling the millions of dollars going through our district as a result of the bond we voted for and supported to build the new building.
Focus on the issue. Because if policies are being ignored or rewritten, we need to know why, and we do have the right to ask.
Del Norte, Colo.