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Mehlville School Board Meeting Moves to High School Library To Accommodate Crowd

Residents respond positively to tax roll-up: “It is about the kids,” they tell Rich Franz and other school board members.

With people streaming down its steps and standing outside on the sidewalk, the Mehlville School District moved Tuesday’s open board meeting from its administrative building to the library to accommodate the overflowing crowd.

It was the first time, at least in recent history, that a district board meeting was relocated because of a crowd, said Mehlville School District Superintendent Eric Knost.

More than 200 people attended the meeting. They ranged from present-day and retired teachers, parents with their children and former employees. Overwhelmingly, they were taxpayers, as indicated by a show of hands when queried by school board member Tom Diehl at the start of the meeting.

Many came to support the tax roll-up approved at the —  and to take aim at school board member Rich Franz, who opposed the tax levy along with Elaine Powers and Mark Stoner.

Prompting residents’ ire was a comment made by Franz at last month’s meeting during which the tax rate roll-up was passed by the school board. Franz’s comment, which was published in Patch, reads in part: “. This is about those folks sitting in those seats not trusting us as a board.”

The part about it not being about the kids rankled most in the audience.

More than 25 people spoke during the meeting’s open comments period, which lasted approximately an hour. Some speakers even quoted the district’s policies.

One speaker was Mike Baker, an 1986 Oakville High School graduate and parent of two children at Oakville Middle School, who implored the board to work together with district.

“You are ethically bound to remember that the first and greatest concern must be the educational welfare of all students attending the (Mehlville) public schools,” Baker said.

Others weren’t quite as diplomatic, such as Jeff Clobes, a parent, who accused Franz of being a bully.

“The district, in my opinion promotes an anti-bullying policy, and you, Mr. Franz are bullying this board,” he said.

Clobes also took issue with newly-elected school board member, Elaine Powers.

“Ms. Powers, I am very disappointed that you chose to side with Mr. Stoner and Mr. Franz on voting ‘No’ for the tax roll-up. I voted for you because I expected you to be my voice. That did not represent my voice.

"I fight for every one of these teachers because they fight for my kids. Threaten to take dental and vision insurance from these people (i.e. teachers)? What’s next on your agenda, sir: Ask them to bring toilet tissue to work? It is about the children. It’s not about you,” he said.

Franz listened intently to the barbs, taking notes and occasionally asking for the spelling of a speaker’s name. He maintained a slight smile.

“You’ll notice on the speaker’s list tonight, the majority of the people were either teachers, retired teachers, retired administrators, retired classified employees or people who currently have small children in the district and are being influenced by what their children bring home from school in terms of the message they are getting,” Franz said.

“Tonight was an opportunity for these folks to take a shot at me, and I don’t mind them doing that. You know, we live in a democracy. Everybody has an opportunity to share their feelings.

"There is one basic misconception, though. And I want to apologize to them, to the folks that are here tonight, for being told by someone that I said that ‘being on the school board is not about the kids,’ because I never said that.

“I said that support of Proposition C and the passage of Proposition C is not about the children. It was about giving pay raises to the teachers, and it was about creating construction jobs for the trade unions,” he said.

The marathon meeting lasted from 7:30 until 11:30 p.m.

Check back Friday and next week for more coverage on Wednesday's board meeting. 

Liz October 13, 2011 at 11:47 AM
For what it's worth, I've never been "influenced" by what my children bring home from school. I find it offensive that Mr. Franz thinks that parents can't think for themselves or that my employment in the field of education precludes my ability to make decisions about this district. My beliefs about the state of the Mehlville School District are formed by my own knowledge and understanding of state laws that govern the district, by my own observations about what happens in our schools, and by my own involvement in the district as an SSD employee in a partner district. I see the need for an infusion of money into this district, however, the tax roll-up isn't about MORE money. It's about the SAME money (or nearly the same money.) If your taxes go up in Mehlville this year, you ought to be happy- it means your property values held for the last 2 years. Mine sure didn't! I'm estimating that my overall taxes will be reduced (including a less than 3% increase by the Mehlville School District AND an over 3% increase by the Mehlville Fire District.) Unless other taxing authorities roll-up their rates significantly, my final tax bill will be lower this year.
Christine Stewart Mehigh October 13, 2011 at 12:57 PM
“I said that support of Proposition C and the passage of Proposition C is not about the children. It was about giving pay raises to the teachers, and it was about creating construction jobs for the trade unions,” he said. Mr. Franz still doesn't get it. Prop C was constructed with bringing our district up to the same standards as other districts FOR THE SAKE OF THE KIDS to help them to be competitive in today's world.
Jeff Clobes October 13, 2011 at 02:22 PM
Once again, Mr. Franz is misled by his comments. Proposition C was about infrastructure. Taking advantage of historically low labor, real estate and material costs while creating hundreds of good, local jobs all in the name of creating an educational environment for our kids. Ms. Powers comments at the end of the meeting regarding the district's lack of an auditorium for the students in the performing arts spoke directly to the need for students to showcase their educational talents in the proper environment. Mr. Franz's divisive comments are a detriment to the board's goals of creating a unified community.
Erin Moeckel October 13, 2011 at 03:41 PM
“Tom, I want to compliment you on reading your speech, you did that really well, obviously it came from the heart,” Franz said. “What you folks don’t understand…this isn’t about the kids, this is about those folks sitting in those seats not trusting us as a board. Folks, they don’t trust you.” This was taken from an article that ran prior to last night's meeting. Is Mr. Franz saying there was an error in reporting. Here he is clearly quoted as saying it isn't about the kids. Was this in reference to Prop C? It didn't seem like it.
Sarah Flagg October 13, 2011 at 04:00 PM
Yes, that he what he said at Wednesday's meeting, but Prop C was not mentioned in his comment at all at the Sept. meeting. Thanks for asking, Erin and just to clarify, I'll post the exact transcript: "What you folks don’t understand and these folks sitting out here do is – and by the way, I’m tired of the NEA trotting out that lame thing about 'oh it’s for the kids' - you know what? This isn’t about the kids, this is about those folks sitting in those seats not trusting us as a board. And if you’re not hearing that, you’re not paying attention. Folks, they don’t trust you. I’ll say it again, they don’t trust you."-Rich Franz
Karl Frank Jr. October 13, 2011 at 05:05 PM
Wow. Unbelievable. I can't believe those revealing comments were only reported on Patch. For those who are interested in following this issue closely, we have formed a group called the Mehlville Community Taxpayers for Mehlville and are nearing 100 participants. Come take a look if you get a second. http://facebook.com/MCT4Mehlville - district residents Peggy Hassler and Jeff Clobes are the co-chairs of the group. thanks Sarah for reporting on this.
Mary October 13, 2011 at 05:28 PM
I have no children in the Mehlville School District, however, I am a taxpayer in the District and I vote in favor of tax issues. My reason is that if we have a strong School District our property values will not suffer. And if Mr Franz would take the time to see the forest through the trees he would see that any improvement in the District would be for the KIDS. What I read through the lines in his comments from Tuesday evening was that he was giving lip service to those that took the time to come to the meeting and offer their comments and concerns. Too bad, seems he is not for the KIDS.
Paul Anderson October 13, 2011 at 07:03 PM
Parents take note, per his comments, Mr. Franz and his rose colored glasses seems to think there were only retired teachers and employees in the audience - did you not hear the overwhelming comments made by parents to remind you that this is about the kids. It appears that until this message is clear to Mr. Franz each meeting needs to be attended and begun with several parents and the many parent groups making comments regarding their support for district .
Sarah Flagg October 13, 2011 at 11:12 PM
Hey Guys, Don't forget each commenter must put their first and last name with their comment, per our Terms of Use. All other comments will be deleted. Thanks for sharing! Sarah
Karl Frank Jr. October 13, 2011 at 11:30 PM
You can join the Facebook page and say it if you like.
John James October 14, 2011 at 12:27 AM
My opinion is that Mr. Franz is a miser. One who watches every penny he has received from every taxpayer that he has worked for, and is still collecting from. You do know being a police officer for 27+ years and having the privilege to work for a community has its perks. Maybe he has never made a bad investment, or given ungodly mounts of money to a college, just to have his child drop out. He wants to see results, he doesn’t want to see results after a child has made something of themselves, he wants to see it now. So what about this bassoon that the district bought, that Mr. Franz had to bring up? Is it for a child, is the school in need of one? DOES IT REALLY MATTER? I hope it’s for a child, and I hope that child becomes part of a grand symphony somewhere. If not, then I’m sure that child will remember that someone, or even their school gave them the tools that they needed at the time, to possibly be great. It appears that money is everything to Mr. Franz, that’s why he is so darn nit-picky of why is the school paying for this and why did the school buy that. What’s the money is for? IT’S FOR THE KIDS. If he doesn’t want to give up some of the taxpayer money he has already collected, for the kids then he’s not a Mehlville supporter, and doesn’t belong on the board, and I seriously doubt that he will appear on the Facebook page that has been setup.
Robyn Turner October 14, 2011 at 01:12 AM
Amen, Liz. And hopefully, after last night, the tides will turn. I do believe the careless comment that was made about it not being about the kids, has made people sit up and realize.......
Franchesca October 14, 2011 at 03:58 AM
I spoke and left as soon as was possible because I brought my 7 and 9 year old with me. I was one of the parents who is influenced by what my children tell me and what my children experience. We, all of us, including Rich Franz, set the tone in this district. The point I was making is that the children hear a lot of confusing information and although they may not understand all of it, they do understand how people treat each other. All I asked is that every board member and every educator in attendance be able to look my children in the eye and tell them that they will do everything in their power to give them everything they need to succeed in their education. I also asked that as community leaders, to please go on the premise that teachers are "the good guys" and not to question their integrity by grandstanding. Transparency in government and holding educators/administrators accountable is a far cry different than questioning item by item in a manner that only serves to be tedious and insulting. And THAT is exactly what happened at the previous board meeting. That I saw first hand. It did NOT come from my children.
Karl Frank Jr. October 14, 2011 at 03:18 PM
Just to give you a glimpse of the personality of Rich Franz. During the intermission, Rich Franz approached me and thanked me with very pompous enthusiasm for bringing all these people out tonight, several times, while shaking my hand and smiling at me. (I told him that it wasn't true and everyone was here because of him and that I was asked to come.) He said very excitedly: (Still obnoxiously shaking my hand.) You failed as a school board member. You failed as a computer guy. And it's a good thing I write for the Patch or you wouldn't have anyone to talk to. Then...when he finally let go of my hand, I walked out...and the way out he stopped me again and said... "You know Karl, I really enjoy this. This political back and forth. I think its fun." And he turned and walked away... And I just reiterated one more time, "but im doing what I do for the kids." And he just kept walking. That's right folks. He thinks this is a game.
Zach Aaron Kerans October 14, 2011 at 10:28 PM
I'm a student at Mehlville High School. Franz would be without a job if it wasn't for the teachers. He had no idea what the teachers have to face each and everyday. We the kids put them threw so much and cause them so much mental fatality that not even Franz can take it. He says it is not about the children when it is about the children because without the children going to school he would be out of a job and he doesn't know the impact that could have on him. The tax levy should be passed because I see the items we use at school each day and how bad shape they are in. If Franz was a real leader for the Mehville School District he could at least take a pay cut to fund his schools financial status a little better. Powers is someone who follows and cant make up her mind, she said she was with us and was going to help us and nothing good has came out of it. If Franz, Powers, and Stoner don't help pass this bill I strongly feel that they should either come teach the kids themselves, with the little that they know, or they should be impeached off the board because they are bringing the Mehville School District down very slowly.
Ed Taylor October 16, 2011 at 05:31 PM
A picture of Board Member Franz: knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing. With apologies to O. Wilde.
Karl Frank Jr. October 18, 2011 at 09:32 PM
We have the video of the first speaker, Jim Schibig, up at http://facebook.com/MCT4Mehlville
Karl Frank Jr. October 19, 2011 at 11:52 PM
The Mehlville Community Taxpayers for Mehlville have posted videos of the following: Tom Diehl's Speech on September 27th, 2011: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJVt2en6cvg Rich Franz's Speech "This is not about the kids." in rebuttal: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CO5cFcwLzY
Karl Frank Jr. October 20, 2011 at 03:54 PM
We made some spelling mistake and readability corrections on the previous video of minority-voter elected Rich Franz's comments that "This isn't about the kids." The original video has been deleted. The new video can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyNhEC0O3xQ and on our MCTM's Facebook Page, http://facebook.com/MCT4Mehlville
buryl anderson October 22, 2011 at 02:59 AM
Can you believe The Call? They didn't care to print Tom Diehl's entire conversation with Elliot when he was quoted out of context. Channel 2 showed a clip of the interview that really skewed Mr. Diehl's interview. But since The Call has its own political agenda it chose to let that one ride. Not so with their boy Franz.
D Seidel March 10, 2012 at 12:27 AM
and creating construction jobs for the trade unions...um, maybe it would have put some people back to work and propped up the economy in SoCo. It can be interpreted that Franz dislikes ALL unions - teachers, fire, skilled trade...

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