News and Tribune

April 5, 2013

NASH: Are we getting our money’s worth?

By MATTHEW NASH
Local columnist

— Over the last couple of weeks it has come to light that once again New Albany-Floyd County School Corp. superintendent was looking for a better job. During his relatively short tenure, Dr. Bruce Hibbard has on multiple occasions applied for jobs other than the one he currently has. Since his arrival here in 2009, it has become an all too familiar pattern.  

Many people have said that if he is not happy here, maybe it’s time for him to go. It was announced this week that he was no longer a candidate for the Carmel-Clay Schools job. 

The reason that was given for his interest in the new position was that it would bring him closer to members of his family who live near Indianapolis. I can understand this thought process having made decisions in my life based on a similar premise. The only problem with this scenario is that the last time he was a candidate for a job, it was in Florida, a considerable distance from the Indianapolis area.  I believe that this job search, as well as nearly every other thing he has done, has been motivated by money.

It was late fall in 2010 when the board of school trustees couldn’t give the superintendent a raise fast enough. They were saying things like he was gotten on the ‘cheap’ and deserved a raise or he would find another job that would pay him what he was worth. A vocal group assembled at the meeting where the raise was to be discussed, and it was clear that it wasn’t going to be a very popular decision.

 At that meeting Dr. Hibbard announced he would not accept a raise but the school board members were determined to make sure he would soon make more money. It is true that test scores and graduation rates have improved since Dr. Hibbard came to our town and the budget situation has improved, but at what cost? Neighborhood schools have been closed, art and music programs are being cut and elementary athletics have been eliminated.

Last year Dr. Hibbard received a $28,500 raise and a $10,000 bonus for all the hard work that he had done over the past several months. So for 2012 he received $38,500 more than his contract called for in a county with a per capita income of less than $28,000, and just over a year later he is looking to improve his situation yet again? Will the school board once again give in and pony up some extra cash to make sure he stays?

Now I don’t begrudge someone for trying to create a better situation for himself, but what does it say about his priorities?  When Dr. Hibbard finally finds that job that he is looking for, I would suggest to the board of school trustees that they seek out a candidate whose chief priority is the children of our community. What if the next person they choose was a member of this community who had a vested interest in its future?

This week it was announced that the Floyd County Republican Party would convene a caucus in order to replace Floyd County Auditor Darin Coddington, who has resigned effective May 3. Coddington, who announced his resignation on March 1, cited “personal reasons” for leaving his position  with about 20 months left in his term. The resignation also came when his job performance was under scrutiny for giving the wrong figures as the Floyd County Council prepared the 2013 budget.

It has been reported that the auditor has not been attending the meetings of the county council or the commissioners since he announced his resignation.  If he had not intended to fill the duties of his office, maybe he should have made his resignation effective immediately. Why was there a two-month gap in his announcement and his eventual departure?

Coddington  has denied that the budget dilemma that is currently facing our county is his reason for leaving. He was elected in 2010 in an election when several local races seemed to ride the wave of momentum that swept across the country.  I believe that he was elected to a position that he was not equipped to handle and now the citizens of Floyd County are paying the price for that mistake.

I realize that the Floyd County GOP has every right to fill the position that a party member was legally elected to. But who was responsible for putting Mr. Coddington in the position in the first place?  Was he properly vetted before he was allowed to assume a place on the Republican ballot? Are the same people who were responsible for getting him elected now preparing to pick his replacement?

Finding the right person for the job is important in every line of work, whether it be the superintendent of our local schools, the county auditor, or the guy who picks up our garbage every week. If the person that is responsible for the job is not 100 percent committed to doing the best job that they can, then they are not serving the public as they should, and we must demand that we are getting our money’s worth.

 

— Matthew Nash can be reached at dmatthewnash@gmail.com