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Letter to the Editor: What about fiduciary responsibility does the Alamosa school board not understand?

Posted: Friday, Jul 5th, 2013

I applaud those people who stood up at the July 1 Alamosa Board of Education’s meeting to read a letter into public record – the letter which was sent to the school board’s attorney, to which was never responded, and to which I’m sure never would have been made public had the supporters of “Keep Polston Public” not done so.

One of the things that was mentioned in the letter was the FIDUCIARY relationship of the Board of Education to our schools. There is also a fiduciary relationship between each individual board member and the school district, taxpayers, and ultimately the children of our school district.

Many may be asking “What is a Fiduciary?” A fiduciary is a legal or ethical relationship of TRUST between two or more parties. Typically, a fiduciary prudently takes care of money for another person. In a fiduciary relationship, one person, in a position of vulnerability, justifiably vests confidence, GOOD FAITH, reliance and trust in another whose aid, advice or protection is sought in some matter. In such a relationship good conscience requires the fiduciary to act at all times for the SOLE BENEFIT and INTEREST of the one who trusts. An example would be a Board of Directors whose fiduciary responsibility is to the company they are representing — ideally to the best of their ability without conflict of interest, personal gain, etc. An executor of an estate is another example of a fiduciary — they are responsible for carrying out the wishes of the deceased without bias, profit or illegal activity. Essentially a Fiduciary is a caretaker who is legally bound to act in the best interest of the party they represent.

What happens when the fiduciary doesn’t act in the best interest of the party it represents? In the case of litigation where a fiduciary responsibility/action is in question, there could be remedies of different types, according to the damages found by the courts. This could include proprietary (dealing with property) remedies and pecuniary (monetary) compensation.

The Alamosa Board of Education has a fiduciary responsibility to the school district and to no one else. They MUST do what is best for the school district, period. They cannot take into account economic development, possible city revenues based on projected feasibility of a project, etc. The sheer fact that the ABOE has agreed to take $255,000 less (1/3 the property value) from one buyer over another shows that there is a breach of fiduciary responsibility — they are not acting in the best interest of the school district! Who in their right minds would think that OUR school district with struggling students, frustrated teachers, schools without air conditioning, etc. would think that we couldn’t use $255,000?!?! The Alamosa School District’s website, under “Board”, lists the Board’s goals – 1) Develop and support safe and mutually respectful environments 2) Support parent/teacher partnerships 3) Shared accountability to increase student achievement 4) Foster student wellness 5) IMPROVE AND MAINTAIN THE DISTRICT’S FINANCIAL STANDING 6) Support expanded technology 7) Improve the K-5 configuration. How is giving away $255,000 meeting those goals, especially numbers 5, 6 and 7?? (http://alamosa.k12.co.us/dist/pageboard.html)

There are many other issues brought forward by the Keep Polston Public group — and their outraged supporters — but the members of the Alamosa Board of Education took an oath to serve the school district to the best of their ability. If they are unable to do so, they need to table this issue and resign from the board. That is the ETHICAL thing to do. If there were matching offers on the table, I could see questioning what avenue to take in the disposition of this property — but there aren’t.

If you want to know what was in the letter to the ABOE, visit www.youtube.com and search for KeepPolstonPublic. There is a video of the letter being read at the ABOE’s meeting. The clip is titled “Alamosa Board of Education Meeting – July 1st, 2013”.

Scott White


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