The mortally scandalized Mid-Central Educational Cooperative will cease to exist next month. In its place, twelve of its thirteen member schools have formed the Core Educational Cooperative to provide special education services.
When the Mid-Central schools created Core, Burke superintendent Erik Person said, “I want all the separation we can get from Mid-Central.” But in South Dakota, separation is hard to get.
Core hired Mid-Central special educator Valerie Johnson as its interim director.
Core has offered a contract to Mid-Central’s acting business manager Catrina Brown to become Core’s business manager after Mid-Central folds. Brown is one of the Mid-Central staffers who got extra pay from Mid-Central’s embezzling business manager Scott Westerhuis for no apparent extra work. In its response to the damning Auditor General’s report, Mid-Central refers to such payments to one unnamed staffer as “hush money.”
Core is negotiating to buy Mid-Central’s office building in Platte and thirteen of Mid-Central’s vehicles. Remember that these negotiations consist of representatives of twelve school boards dickering with other representatives of those same twelve school boards (sometimes the same board members—see the six conflict of interest waivers Mid-Central approved for board members in January) plus Ethan, the only Mid-Central member that hasn’t joined Core. At the May 11 Mid-Central meeting, Ethan board president Tim Neugebauer did spike a 20%-off-book discount proposed by Burke and Corsica-Stickney and secured a vote to ask Core for full book value on those thirteen cars.
Mid-Central is offering its building for sale at the appraised value of $350K. According to Core’s May 16 minutes, Valerie Johnson and Core’s superintendents, the same superintendents who sit in on Mid-Central meetings, countered with an offer of $290K. Funny: Mid-Central’s member schools already paid for that building once. Now twelve of them plan to pay for it again.
Given that the Auditor General says $1.4 million is still missing from Mid-Central’s taxpayer-filled and Westerhuis-drained coffers, it’s surprising that the state Department of Education and Uncle Sam are allowing Mid-Central to liquidate any assets. Given the overlap of staff and boards, it’s surprising that Core, which for all practical purposes is Mid-Central minus one, is transferring any money to acquire assets that its members have already paid for.