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Kooiker: Student Fund Should Be For Students Only

By Ellis Codjoe, October 12, 2017

Ottumwa School Superintendent Nicole Kooiker is somewhat perplexed by a controversy that emerged from the Ottumwa School Board meeting Monday night.

Kooiker along with the school board held a discussion on Monday regarding student activity funds.

“Purchase orders were coming in on the student fund for adult purchases. I asked questions and dug in, did research,” Kooiker told Ottumwa Radio News. “I checked on the legality of the problem and discussed it with the Iowa Board of Education.”

Kooiker says the current policies are unclear on the problem, so she brought two new recommendations to the board.

“We have two policies that are pretty gray in the area of student and adult purchases,” Kooiker said. “I brought two new policies to the board with guidelines by the state.”

Kooiker was hired to lead the Ottumwa School District in March 2016.

Kooiker says that she believes funds in the student account should be used exclusively for student use.

“If it’s 50 cents, it’s too much,” She adds. “The title ‘student activity fund’ means it’s for students. I like to operate on what is ethical and right. In this case, I made my recommendation on what I believe, but [the school board] will make the final decision.”

Kooiker says that if the school board wants to purchase uniforms for coaches, that money should come from a separate fund.

“I want our student activity funds to be used for students,” Kooiker said. “We pay our staff, they have salaries. We appreciate everything they do but in my mind there shouldn’t be funds coming out of student activities supplementing adults.”

She said she was somewhat confused by how a simple policy update has become such an issue.

“I’m not understanding myself, this is what we do with any board policy,” the Superintendent said.

The Ottumwa School Board is expected to discuss the issue and potentially vote on a new policy recommendation at an October 16th special meeting or at the October 23rd regular meeting.

Kooiker is scheduled to appear on the KBIZ Dialogue Program to discuss this and other school topics on Monday, October 16th from 9:00-10:00AM.

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