TEAM 20 wants answers about proposed dorm

A new Facebook group has emerged to challenge the building of a dormitory to house 200 international students by Weiming Education Group (WEG), a private company based in the People’s Republic of China.
The group is called TEAM 20.
Truth in Education Accountability in Management 20 Years is a grass roots community group consisting of parents, members of the community and concerned citizens searching for the truth and assessing the impact to the community and students in the Oxford school district as it relates to the 20-year contract between Weiming and Oxford Schools.
‘There are many layers to this contract and determining its exact effect will require our residents to ask questions, educate themselves and participate in discussions with those responsible to ensure the project is positive for all involved,? according to a press release by TEAM 20.
The biggest thing they want is ‘transparency,? according to Kallie Roesner-Meyers, one of the group’s leaders.
‘We don’t believe what we’re being told because it’s not being backed up,? she said.
‘I hear our district superintendent (Dr. William Skilling) is spending days, weeks, and months of his time for that international program and not for us.?
‘I want accounting for that. If he spent one minute on an international program, that one minute needs to be billed as a separate line item,? she continued. ‘If an administrator, secretary or somebody spends time on that, it needs to be accounted for. That’s not realistic to say ‘we’re not losing money,? when you factor in all of the time that our staff is spending on this.?
The closed forum Facebook group currently has 81 members, but Roesner-Meyers said it’s an ‘action group.?
‘You need to be seriously active. When we say we have 81 (members), it’s not just people sitting on their hands,? she explained. ‘It’s 81 people who are doing things.?
For those just wanting information, Roesner-Meyers said they can visit and join the Facebook pages of ‘Don’t Privatize Oxford? and ‘Oxford Community Forum,? both of which are open forums.
Part of taking action included Roesner-Meyers and other TEAM 20 members meeting with Oxford Deputy Superintendent Tim Throne to express some of the group’s concerns over the contract between the district and Weiming.
‘I thought it was productive,? she said. ‘I thought he was listening and receptive to our concerns and agreed that there are many points in the contract that need to be ironed out and that the contract was certainly not a stand-alone.?
‘My biggest concern and the group’s biggest concern is that the contract says there (are) no other agreements and we’re hearing these other agreements that Weiming is going to bus students and Weiming is going to do this and Weiming is going to do that, but if it’s not written in the contract, it doesn’t exist as far as I’m concerned,? Roesner-Meyers continued. ‘The group is kind of standing toe-to-toe with the board and the administrators going ‘don’t make promises.? We want you to act professionally and be responsible as someone who represents our community and has a fiduciary duty to our district to make sure things are in a contract, not a promise.?
Throne told this reporter he also felt the meeting with members of TEAM 20 went well and he does believe they have some ‘legitimate questions and concerns.?
‘At the end of the day, maybe the end goal is they just don’t want it, which is OK. I’m not out there trying to change their mind,? Throne said. ‘What I am trying to do is make sure I answer all their questions. I give them all the information, I tell them what I know and if they (have) got concerns in certain areas, let me know and I’ll work (on) those areas. That’s really the perspective that I’m coming from.?
As far as the contract goes, Throne believes it will always be a work in progress, just like any other contract the school has.
‘I think we’re always going to be reworking the contract. Every year, just like with all of our contracts, we learn something new,? he added. ‘We learn how we want to be better or different and how we want the arrangement to work differently. And then we go back and try to modify those contracts.?
As further questions or concerns come his way, Throne said he will do his best to continue to answer them, but they may not all be addressed right away.
‘Am I going to be able to take care of them all by day one or within the first year, no. It will be an ongoing thing, but that’s okay, some of the best things we do take awhile to create,? he noted. ?(If someone says) ‘maybe we need to be a little bit more clear in this part of the contract or maybe we need to look at something else for that portion of the contract,? I’m open to all good ideas.?
The group has also submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request via e-mail on March 30 requesting ‘complete and accurate detailing on how the F-1 Students participate with Oxford Schools in their First and Second year,? as well as copies of I-17 forms signed by a representative of Oxford since January 1, 2006, any signed agreements between Rochester College and Oxford schools, attorney reviews and reports ‘pertaining to evaluation of any of the Weiming Contracts, as well as information on Oxford School due diligence research of Weiming including: Chinese government registration documents, accounting and tax records.
In an e-mail response from Throne on April 5, he told the group he did not think FOIA was necessary.
‘If you feel like you need to use the FOIA route, I understand,? he wrote. ‘Just know that I am more than willing to provide you with whatever information you seek without using the FOIA.?
TEAM 20 has also requested through Throne to have a special meeting of the school board where there can be an ‘open forum? between the board and members of TEAM 20 and the general public, so people will be able to openly ask questions and share their concerns and thoughts as part of a discussion.
‘This is like a charrette, everybody is going to be able to speak freely,? Roesner-Meyers said. ‘Tim has requested the board president to do this and there’s been a bunch of e-mail sent by members of the community to the board to get this done. That’s what we want for the first (time) is to be on the record, in public and open discussion.?
Throne confirmed he sent an e-mail to school board members.
‘Whether they will call a special board meeting to hold that forum or not, I don’t know,? he said.
For more information checkout or e-mail
Questions can also be addressed to Kallie Roesner-Meyers at (810) 545-7913.