Moran accepts 2nd semester West Platte super offer

Retired North Platte School District Superintendent Dr. Francis Moran is set to join Dr. Mark Harpst as interim superintendents of the West Platte School District. Harpst was hired last week by West Platte to replace former Superintendent Dr. Jerrod Wheeler, who resigned after two turbulent years at the West Platte helm. Moran will begin work Jan. 1, 2015, the day after Harpst’s contract is set to expire. Like Harpst, Moran will earn $10,000 per month with no further benefits. “West Platte is a quality school district,” Moran said. “I’ve been in the area for 23 years and I know the program, so I want to make their transition as smooth as possible so they can continue in the tradition of their quality program.” Moran started his career as a teacher in Hermitage, Mo., serving alongside his wife. He earned his doctorate from the University of Missouri in Columbia while serving as superintendent in Keytesville, Mo. before coming to North Platte. Moran served as superintendent for 17 years, retiring in 2008. Since his retirement, Moran served there for three years as northwest Missouri legislative representative for the Missouri Association of School Administrators, then for an additional year as part-time financial officer for the Odessa School District. “I’m very happy that Dr. Moran has accepted the position,” said Harpst, who on Tuesday announced the news of Moran’s hire to West Platte administrators and staff. “He is a quality person and a very good superintendent.” While the turmoil is calming down in the West Platte superintendent’s office, some controversy remains in the district. At the regular Board of Education meeting last week — with new interim superintendent Harpst at the helm — the Board addressed several routine issues, and a not-so-routine complaint. Last month, West Platte grad and former Weston alderman and mayor Greg Hoffman spoke out about what he feels is a conflict of interest on the Board. The source of his concern is Dr. Donald Wilson, a long-time Board member, who is also part owner of Bank of Weston through Wilson Bancshares. During the meeting, the Board discussed sending the district’s contract for depository service out to bid. Bank of Weston currently holds that contract, but after Hoffman’s accusations to Wilson last month, Wilson suggested the district put the depository out to bid. The issue was tabled until next month’s meeting so Harpst would have time to review the information, but he said it was generally a good idea to seek new bids every three to five years. Harpst also said due to the location restraints of the district, it made sense to have a local bank handle day-to-day cash transactions to avoid excess gas and time costs to transact business at an out-of-town bank. During public comments, Hoffman said he applauded the effort to use a local bank and he hoped Bank of Weston did win the bid, but he wanted the conflict issue to be resolved. “I’m glad to see that it’s finally being bid, but I’m disappointed that it’s only being done now because of my bringing it to the board’s attention, especially considering, as Dr. Harpst mentioned earlier in the meeting, Missouri State Statute requires that it be bid at least every five years, according to RSMO 165.211,” Hoffman said. “West Platte hasn’t bid banking services since 2004, meaning it is five years late.” Hoffman said he believed Wilson has misrepresented his relationship to the bank, and has failed to disclose his ownership in violation of state statute. Additionally, he alleges Wilson’s company has financially benefitted from the school district, yet Wilson hasn’t disclosed this to the state. “The reason I asked the board last month to address this issue is because there are potential penalties if it’s not addressed,” Hoffman said. “RSMO Chapter 105.492 states that penalties may consist of fines, removal from ballot, suspension from office, and knowingly misrepresenting or omitting facts, which is the case we have here, renders the official guilty of a class B misdemeanor.”