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School Board leadership survives
 no-confidence vote

Richard D. L. Fulton

(10/25) An attempt to remove the president of the Fairfield Area School District Board of Directors from that position failed in a 3-5-1 vote at the boardís October 21 meeting.

More then 200 individuals attended the meeting. Hundreds of signatures were gathered calling for Rigler to resign from the board prior to the October 21 meeting. Rigler declined after the board asked him to remain.

The issues which led to the attempted removal revolve around the process employed in developing the 2014-2015 budget; the process employed to fill a vacancy in the board, and most recently, the revelation of the existence of a host of old You Tube videos made by Rigler in which he mocks liberal positions on a array of national issues. Rigler has apologized repeatedly for the videos.

With the passing on a $16,788,057, no-tax-increase budget with a projected $1 million surplus in June, the ageist against RiglerĎs management of the board had been dissipating, but the recent revelation and nature of the You Tube videos re-ignited the debate over Riglerís suitable for leading a school board, resulting in the position drive to have him removed.

At the October 21st meeting, board member Marcy VanMetre motioned to remove Rigler as member of the board. The motion was seconded by Lonny Whitcomb. The motion was quickly nixed by board Solicitor Brooke Say, who suggested such a move would not hold up under the law as Rigler was an elected official.

Having had her first effort shot-down by legal counsel, VanMetre then motioned to remove Rigler as the president of the board, a motion seconded again by Whitcomb. The motion failed in a 3-5-1 vote. Voting in favor of the motion were VanMetre, Whitcomb, and Pamela Mikesell. Voting against were Agatha Foscato, Chuck Hatter, Bruce Lefeber, Richard Mathews, and Mickey Barlow. Rigler abstained.

VanMetre told the News-Journal, "I made the motion to have him removed because thatís what these people wanted to have done. Theyíre (what the opposition perceives as a six-member coalition) running their own agenda. The delays, arrogance and disrespect are the major issues."

Bruce Lefeber, one of the five board members who voted-down the motion to remove Rigler, told the News-Journal that Riglerís opposition basically "wants to spend what we take-in, and thatís not right." Lefeber said the district is spending more, while at the same time, enrollment numbers are declining. "He said the project enrollment for 2014 is 1,050 students, and by 2020 the student body has been project to be around 908. A typical class at Fairfield "now has about 13 students to each teacher." According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the national average is nearly 15 students per teacher.

Regarding questions over the appointment of Richard Mathews to the board, which had Riglerís opposition crying foul, claiming it lacked "transparency." Lefeber said, "We followed same process that had been used by the previous board to carry-out an appointment, which went without challenge."

Regarding the budget, Rigler stated, "I canít imagine how or why any responsible director would have voted for a tax increase. We didnít need a tax increase. We all want to spend money on children," he said, stating that the issue was "a matter of spending it wisely."

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