2/13/2023: Emails show debate over KPS finance director

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Monday, February 13, 2023

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Emails between the KPS board and superintendent show a contentious debate over a controversial hire. Also: Kalamazoo city residents are dissatisfied with the city, according to a recent survey. And the decades-long cleanup of the Kalamazoo River could wind its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

News You Need To Know

KPS emails show contentious debate over finance director

A set of emails obtained by MLive shows a contentious back-and-forth between the president of the Kalamazoo Public Schools board and the then-superintendent over the hiring of a finance director for the district. Then-board President Sholler-Barber emailed then-Superintendent Rita Raichoudhuri on Nov. 17 asking for details about the hiring of a finance director. Under state law, administrative hires have to be approved by the school board. KPS administrators bypassed that by hiring the new finance director as a contractor due to a lack of applicants for the position. That came as a surprise to KPS board members when they found out about the hire.

The emails show the growing tension between Sholler-Barber and Raichoudhuri. In an email sent on Nov. 18, Raichoudhuri complained about feeling “bullied” and accused Sholler-Barber of “colluding with people who report to me and with those who are no longer with the district.” In a response on Nov. 23, Sholler-Barber said she was perturbed by the accusations. “For you to label these concerned folk as ‘informants’ only lends credence to the Board’s distress,” she wrote. Raichoudhuri resigned on Dec. 12 in what was called a “mutual decision.” The district is in the process of finding a new superintendent. [MLive]

Survey: Kzoo residents less satisfied with the city

The results of a survey of Kalamazoo city residents shows a growing dissatisfaction with life in the city. The National Community Survey was conducted late last year and asked 306 residents questions about how they feel about living in Kalamazoo. While most respondents said they feel safe in their neighborhoods during the day, there was a significant decline in people who said they felt an overall feeling of safety. Just 37% of respondents rated their “overall feeling of safety” as excellent or good. That’s down from 46% in 2021.

The drop in satisfaction was even more stark when it came to general feelings about Kalamazoo. Just 64% of respondents felt positively about “Kalamazoo as a place to live” in 2022, compared to 81% in 2021. And only 66% said they would be very or somewhat likely to “recommend living in Kalamazoo to someone who asks,” compared to 82% a year earlier. On the flip side, more people indicated satisfaction with city employees compared to a year earlier. [MLive]

Kzoo River cleanup fight could go to the Supreme Court

The fight over who’s responsible for the cleanup of toxic chemicals from the Kalamazoo River has been going on for decades. As the legal struggle continues, it could wind its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Allied Paper-Portage Creek-Kalamazoo River Superfund site is one of the largest in the Midwest. Cleanup began 33 years ago to remove toxic PCBs dumped into the river by paper mills. It will likely be at least another seven years before it’s finished.

Paper company Georgia-Pacific is legally responsible for the cleanup. The cost could be as high as a billion dollars once work is completed. The company isn’t happy to pay that and has gone after three other companies to try and recover some of those costs. Last year, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the statute of limitations had run out for Georgia-Pacific. The company plans to appeal that decision to the supreme court. Meanwhile, work continues on 80 miles of the river. EPA project manager Jim Saric told Michigan Radio it’s a big project. “It’s a slow, systematic, methodical process, and I anticipate the work going into 2030 and possibly beyond,” he said. [Michigan Radio]

NowKalamazoo Partner Event
Sounds of the Zoo logo

Jon Hayes “Between You & Me” Album Release Show

Jon Hayes | Daisybox
Friday, Feb. 17
6:30pm @ The Clover Room
$10 adv. | $15 at the door

John Hayes sitting with a guitar
John Hayes
Musician Daisybox with a microphone

Things To Do In Kalamazoo

Film Screening: “The Love Tapes” by Wendy Clarke – Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
12:00PM 2/14

Valentines Day vs. Anti-Valentines Day Party – Kalamazoo Public Library, Central
3:00PM 2/14

On the Wings of Love – Kalamazoo Nature Center
5:30PM 2/14

Rockzilla Tour! Papa Roach / Falling in Reverse – Wings Event Center
6:00PM 2/14

Valentines Coffee & Canvas – Coffee Klutch
6:00PM 2/14

Team Game Night: Family Feud – Richland Community Library
6:00PM 2/14

“Recipe for a Perfect Wife” by Karma Brown – Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
2:00PM 2/15

February Chamber Connect – Old Burdick’s Bar & Grill
4:00PM 2/15

Board Game Night – Main Street Pub, West Main
6:00PM 2/15

Trivia Night at the Bookstore – this is a bookstore
6:00PM 2/15

Out of Favor Boys – O’Duffy’s Pub
7:00PM 2/15

Crys Matthews w/ Faith Quashie – Bell’s Eccentric Café
8:00PM 2/15

See more upcoming events here.

Suggest something to do: [email protected]

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