Lovejoy Thumbs Nose at Taxpayers
Despite public outcry for almost four years
to provide proof of secondary operations viability, Lovejoy
continues to refuse to provide financial information in the form
of a secondary operations budget.
It is now LESS than eight months before the school
Lovejoy is currently incurring secondary OPERATIONS expenses including,
an athletic director, a high school principal, a middle school
principal, and a counselor.
Lovejoy ISD, under Rich Hickman's directive continues
to REFUSE to provide ANY secondary operations budgetary information.
Principals need to be preparing for the year ahead by choosing
courses they can offer, curriculum, and hiring teachers.
How can they do that when they do not know how much
money they have to spend?
How many teachers can they afford to hire and what
can they afford to pay them?
How many books can they buy?
How much computer equipment?
How much do they have to spend on band and athletic uniforms,
Does Rich Hickman and the Lovejoy school board believe
that taxpayers do not have the right to know what Lovejoy will
offer children and how their hard-earned tax dollars are being
Taxpayers have been asking for a secondary operations
budget for almost FOUR years!....
The first request for a pro forma operations
budget was made by concerned parents and taxpayers in spring
2002, before Lovejoy was publicly discussing building
Once the Lovejoy board started discussions about
building secondary schools fall 2002, multiple residents asked
to see how Lovejoy intended to pay for the promises
made in the form of operations financial information.
Lovejoy ISD school board president, Rich Hickman
told residents at a public meeting (Dec 11, 2002) that Lovejoy
did indeed have a budget. The following day three residents met
with Robert Puster to obtain the budget, only to find that Rich
Hickman had mislead them. Lovejoy did not have a budget, they
were using Sanger ISDs budget.
Lovejoy ISD is either refusing to share secondary
financial information with the public or they never completed
ANY secondary planning of their own. They based their decision
to build secondary schools on the budget from Sanger ISD.
Lovejoy had intended to call for a bond election
without producing one single document that showed HOW Lovejoy
intended to FUND the operations of the secondary schools. Residents
worked hard to gather the 3600 signatures required to force Lovejoy
to call for a consolidation election with Allen ISD in hopes of
getting financial proof of promises made.
Under extreme pressure Robert Puster threw together
information for a crowded public meeting Jan 13, 2003 after
early voting had started. The documents were very inadequate in
detail, sufficient personnel and accuracy, but did show that Lovejoy
would not have enough revenue to cover expenses for the first
(no counselors were included, nor is there
any provision for hiring two principals, an athletic director,
and counselor a year early as Lovejoy has done)
Several public information requests were made over
the years for secondary operations information, that only yielded
the inadequate information provided by Robert Puster January 13,
2003. The last
request, September 29, 2004 yielded no new information.
In December 2004, a petition
was submitted to the Legislative
Budget Board asking that they require Lovejoy to provide detailed
secondary operations information. Over one hundred Lovejoy residents
signed the petition.
Rich Hickman responded
to a letter to the
editor assuring the community that everything was wonderful.
"Lovejoy High School will be the best. We've
been planning it for years, not just in the budget, but in the
curriculum and the thousands of other decisions that have to be
made. Lovejoy ISD is fortunate to have a wonderful staff and a
devoted community. That community demands excellence, and that's
exactly what Lovejoy will deliver." (Rich Hickman, President,
Lovejoy ISD Board of Trustees, Fairview, DMN, Jan 23, 2005)
Mr. Hickman has the authority to have a secondary
operations budget created and shared with the public. He continues
to refuse to do so.