Residents question ‘no’ votes

By Melanie Speicher -

SIDNEY — The resignation of a longtime Sidney City Schools employee was the focus of comments and questions by two district residents during Monday night’s Board of Education (BOE) meeting.

John Wolfinger and Carol Crosley, both of Sidney, addressed the board concerning Eric Finke’s resignation, which was accepted during the Oct. 3 BOE meeting. Finke had been the district’s director of operations, technology and transportation.

Wolfinger, who retired from the district after 33 years as a teacher, said he was curious about something he had read in the Sidney Daily News. He asked board member Mandi Croft how long she had been a teacher in the district. Six years, she answered.

He asked why she had resigned from teaching. Croft said numerous things had lead to her resignation, including things that she didn’t like about the teaching profession and what was happening in the district.

So why, he asked, did she run to become a member of the BOE? Croft replied she lives in the district, she’s a graduate of the district and she has children who attend school in the district.

Wolfinger questioned Croft about the statement she made to the Daily News after the board accepted Finke’s resignation by a 3-2 vote, with Croft and Chip Hix both voting no. Croft had said the district was losing an asset and that they should have tried harder to keep Finke.

“I felt there were questions that were unanswered for me,” Croft said to Wolfinger. “The way the information was presented to us, the facts could go both ways. For me, we didn’t do enough for someone who has been in the district as long as he had been. I wanted to see all our Ts crossed and Is dotted. I felt there was more to it and I wanted to know what it was.”

Hix said the situation would have been handled differently in the business world.

Both board members said they agree that voting no at the Oct. 3 meeting was the right vote for them to take.

“There’s only so much we can comment on,” said Hix.

Crosley, who said she is a Sidney High School graduate and has two children attending school in the district, said she has experience as a board member in another district.

“There have been rumors and innuendos concerning the resignation of Eric Finke,” said Crosley. “They say there’s a criminal act involved. Was the board aware there was a criminal act and two board members still voted no?”

Board President Bill Ankney said the board was aware of the investigation.

“There were potentially criminal acts,” said Ankney. “We followed the steps given to us by our lawyer.”

Crosley said she wished the facts would come out, as “the community is being torn apart because of the situation.”

Croft said she still isn’t satisfied with the information provided prior to Finke’s resignation.

“I still stand by that (vote),” said Croft. “It’s my own moral feeling that there’s something else going on. That’s where I voted from. Based on what I know, even with the information we were given, I felt there was something (missing).”

“I’m concerned about the board working together,” said Crosley, who cited the several times Croft has voted no since becoming a board member in January. “It’s the responsibility of the board to get behind the decisions made by the board. Why can’t the board work as a team?”

“I haven’t discouraged any of that,” said Croft, who said one of her no votes concerned changing who supplied physical therapy offered by the district for students.

“The parents needed to be part of that decision,” she said. “I have children on IEPs and I’ve seen how working with a consistent team helps them.”

Croft said she also supports the district’s superintendent, John Scheu. She had voted no on a contract extension for Scheu right after she and Hix joined the board in January.

“I didn’t think the contract needed to be voted on at that time,” said Croft. Scheu’s contract had another year on it before it needed to be renewed. “I hadn’t seen the evaluation process and I hadn’t been through the process in the past.”

Croft said she would like to experience the evaluation process prior to approving a contract.

Board member Bob Smith defended Croft’s right to vote as she wants.

“A split vote doesn’t mean we can’t work together,” said Smith. “It’s perfectly acceptable to see two no votes.”

Ankney said he didn’t know where the investigation into the allegations against Finke stands.

“The matter is in the hands of the Shelby County Prosecutor and Shelby County Sheriff’s Office,” he said.

By Melanie Speicher

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook,

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook,