To the editor:
I see that Walter Harpster, our current school board president is running for re-election. I hope the taxpayers of Mifflin County know what has been going on under Mr. Harpster's rule and take this opportunity to put an end to it.
Recently, I sent an open records request for the email address used by board members to conduct school board business. The school board's new Harrisburg lawyers sent me a letter telling me that I was not allowed to have these email addresses. I found this response a little unnerving, as the State College Area School District and Midd-West School District, along with other school districts in our area, actually have the email addresses and telephone numbers of their board members on their websites. So, what is there to hide from in Mifflin County, I ask?
Perhaps some folks are embarrassed about what has happened during Mr. Harpster's reign as president. Such as the closure of five schools, while one conspicuously remained open, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars to the tax payers of Mifflin County. Only now, on the eve of another election, did Mr. Harpster vote to close this school.
Also under Mr. Harpster's reign, Kirk Rager was appointed to fill the vacancy created by our current DA when he resigned from the school board. Mr. Rager, who had chosen not to run for the school board in the same election Mr. Molek was elected to the board, just happened to be in the audience at the school board meeting the night Mr. Molek resigned. That same night, Mr. Rager was re-appointed to the school board. What a coincidence. Not only was Mr. Rager re-appointed to the school board, but he was also made vice president of the board again. That's pretty impressive for a guy who had chosen not to run for the office. Mr. Harpster's administration also re-appointed Mr. Rager to the vo-tech board, along with Mr. Hurlburt and Mr. Parks, who have also recently chosen not to run this year's election (and neither has Mr. Rager again by the way).
These four gentlemen, with Mr. Harpster as their chosen leader, are the same individuals who recently negotiated the secret deal with Juniata County on the vo-tech. One has to question why Mr. Harpster would choose three individuals, all of whom have chosen not to run for re-election to the school board, to be the representatives to meet with Juniata County School Board members on a very important issue which affects two counties. And, what is this secret deal that these four have made on behalf of the Mifflin County School Board that is so good for us taxpayers that we cannot be told what is in it until after it has been voted on? This sounds an awful lot like a recent healthcare package that our other president told us "you'll know what's in it after it is passed."
The bottom line is that during Mr. Harpster's reign, a ridiculous amount of money has left Mifflin County and locals have lost jobs or have been threatened with losing jobs. That's money that could be spent in local businesses here in Mifflin County and used to pay local taxes. These decisions had an economic impact on everyone from the past superintendent to the district's prior lawyers to the district's janitors and support staff. One thing all of these decisions have in common is that little or no information was provided to the public, the very same public Mr. Harpster thinks can afford to pay for this ludicrous spending.
I for one feel we, as taxpayers need to stop this madness. That's why I will not be voting for Mr. Harpster on May 21 and will be voting for Rick Smeltz, John Knepp and Bob Hammond for Mifflin County School Board.