Mid-Central Educational Cooperative has posted the minutes of its January 14 meeting. We get no bombshells, just details of the organization’s continuing efforts to recover from the scandal opened by the cancellation of its GEAR UP contract and the murder-arson-suicide apparently committed by its former business manager Scott Westerhuis.
- MCEC board member and Ethan school board president Tim Neugebauer attempted to put the brakes on some remaining GEAR UP payouts. He moved to “pay all bills with the exception of the Gear Up employees travel reimbursement and to send those on to the State for payment.” No one seconded that motion.
- Instead, Brandon York of Burke moved to pay all bills except for a $6,000 payment to the state for a GEAR UP refund to the Red Shirt school. York tied to that motion the transfer of donations to the Platte-Geddes school district’s Westerhuis Scholarship Fund… and who would dare vote against that? Someone did—the vote on Burke’s motion after Todd Reinisch of Kimball seconded was 10–1.
- MCEC thus approved $3,024.61 in GEAR UP payments, bringing MCEC’s GEAR UP payouts since the loss of its contract with the state to $24,118.87.
- Maybe the board wanted to hang onto that $6,000 because they are almost broke. After appearing to arrest a steady decline, MCEC’s ending balance dropped to $42,898.98. Under Scott Westerhuis’s business management, from May 2011 to December 2014, MCEC’s average reported monthly ending balance was $2.08 million.
- Nothing in the minutes indicates MCEC’s interest in responding to the request I sent to MCEC exec Dan Guericke and interim business manager Stephanie Huber in October to explain the monthly balance discrepancies from May 2011 through March 2014 that add up to $3,442,649.45.
- That dwindling ending balance didn’t stop MCEC from paying very positive auditor Eide Bailly another $1,334.85, on top of the $5,147 paid last month.
- Swier Law racked up another $6,650, up from $5,147 last month. The state and federal investigators looking into MCEC’s finances must be asking more questions.
- MCEC paid Sam Gingerich $2,083.33 for College Access grant services. Since October 2014 (just before MCEC’s approval of a contract with Gingerich in November 2014), MCEC has paid Gingerich $36,141.72 for College Access grant services. Gingerich retired from the Board of Regents in 2014. The state Department of Education has transferred responsibility for GEAR UP from MCEC to the Board of Regents in October 2015.