[nfbmi-talk] show us the money trusts

joe harcz Comcast joeharcz at comcast.net
Mon Apr 11 13:09:22 UTC 2011



Note the requirement for a full audit of OUB in this article. Yet, the Michigan Department of Education does not conduct similar audits or release readily any information about the trust to the public and how it is spent. Thus we should demand that information, in accessible format and a timely manner. Moreover, note the transfer of funds from the trust to MCB that Bauer admits to and for the purpose of federal match herein. We need to have an accounting of MCB in this regards, yet they don’t even remit any financials. In short show us the money!




Joe Harcz






State board nonprofit group at odds over Camp Tuhsmeheta [Education Report]










State board, nonprofit group at odds over Camp Tuhsmeheta


Director resigns from program for visually impaired children


Lorie A. Shane,

Tue., August 19, 2008



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When Gwen Botting first learned that her young son was visually impaired, her thoughts went to other blind people she’d known — her great aunt and her grandmother.


Shaleah Glas, of Kalamazoo, walks along a log at Camp Tuhsmeheta during a program for children with visual impairments and their families. Her father, Don

Glas, holds her hand.


The great aunt, after losing her sight as a complication of diabetes, continued to tend her garden, split wood and cook on a wood-fired stove.


The grandmother, Botting said, “let her blindness ruin the rest of her life.”


“When I discovered I was going to have a blind child, I knew which one I wanted for my kid,” she said, turning to look at the blond teen-ager beside her.


Now 14, Greg Botting will be a freshman this fall at Ionia High School. During his middle school years he completed a general education curriculum, joined

classmates on a service learning trip to Costa Rica, ran track with the help of a guide and won the school’s Courage and Valor Award.


In a society in which “there are still 100 different ideas on how to raise blind children,” Botting said that her philosophy from the beginning was to force

her son to become independent.


“It is not ‘poor me,’” she said. “If you want something in life you have to go for it.”


Camilo Glas, of Kalamazoo, folds his arms across his chest and relies on fellow campers and counselors to catch him as he sways from side to side. Glas

said one of his favorite camp activities is boating.


That’s the general philosophy at Camp Tuhsmeheta, where Greg Botting is a camper and his mother a longtime volunteer. The 300-acre state-owned parcel of

land is located along a chain of lakes near Greenville. Opportunities Unlimited for the Blind, a nonprofit organization, offers programs there for children

with visual impairments, but the group hit a stumbling block recently as the executive director resigned and said fall and winter programs could be canceled.


The organization has had a dismal fundraising year, according to executive director George Wurtzel, given the state economy in general and smaller donations

from individuals and corporations. On top of that, the group is currently at odds with the Michigan State Board of Education over the site, with Wurtzel

saying that a lack of support from the state for the organization’s work was one reason he stepped down.


Wurtzel told the state board of education at its meeting on Aug. 13 that he has resigned, saying, “I’m leaving because I can’t deal with the politics anymore.”


George Wurtzel, until recently the executive director of Opportunities Unlimited for the Blind, told the state board of education this month that he is

resigning. Wurtzel said he believes the state does not show enough support for his group’s efforts on behalf of blind and visually impaired children.


The state purchased “Camp T” in 1971, using money that had built up over decades in a trust fund to benefit the visually impaired. The state board of education

is responsible for oversight of the fund and the property and allocates money for use at the site through a trust fund committee. The fund stands at about

$2.7 million, but yearly allocations fluctuate depending on the investment income generated.


The state ran its own summer programs at the camp for a number of years, working through the now-closed Michigan School for the Blind. As attendance at

that school dwindled over the years, so did camp programming. By 2002, Wurtzel said, the camp served only 16 children in four weeks of summer programs.

No program was offered in 2003, and the state put out a request for bids in 2004, looking for an organization to take over programming.


OUB, whose members include a number of people formerly involved at the school for the blind, was the only group that responded.


By 2007, OUB was offering 10 weeks of summer programs as well as weekend events throughout the year, Wurtzel said. About 40 percent of the organization’s

funding comes from private donations; an additional 25 percent comes from camper fees and another 25 percent from a youth employment program sponsored

by the Michigan Commission for the Blind.


The state board and OUB have agreed to a three-year lease under which OUB would continue to use the grounds for its programs, but in May the board voted

not to implement the agreement until OUB provides it with an independent financial audit. Wurtzel said the organization is working to comply with that

request, but is frustrated by the added expense.


OUB has given the board an “accountant’s review,” an internal financial statement smaller in scope than an audit, but state board member Elizabeth Bauer

pointed out to Michigan Education Report that the figures in that report were from 2006, which wouldn’t reflect extra money the camp received the following

year. The board has requested an independent audit for some time, she said.


“We just don’t want to be handing out money willy-nilly and not know where it goes,” she said in a telephone interview. Bauer is a member of the trust fund



Though the committee usually allocates money to the camp only for maintenance and physical improvements, in 2007 it agreed to provide an additional $40,000,

at OUB’s request, for programming. The money was routed through the Michigan Commission for the Blind, which used it to secure matching federal funds,

putting the total available at about $200,000. Of that, about $90,000 went to the camp, and the commission used the remainder in other programs.


Wurtzel said OUB believes more of the trust fund money should be dedicated to the camp and that if OUB were not involved, then programming at the site would

once again dwindle. The group has approached legislators about drafting a bill to sell the site to OUB for a nominal amount. A 2007 appraisal put the market

value at $2.38 million.


The trust fund money is not restricted for use just at the camp, however, and Bauer told Michigan Education Report that other groups might be interested

in applying for funding for other programs.


Three state board members visited the facility in August, and told fellow board members they were impressed with the physical improvements. Bauer said she

remains convinced that the property should remain in state hands.


“It’s a very good piece of property. We should use it to the fullest,” Bauer said. “It makes me think there may be ways we can have more participants, not

just Opportunities Unlimited for the Blind.”


Wurtzel said OUB programs emphasize the self-reliance and practical living skills that blind children need, but don’t get enough of, at home and in school.


“We make kids be responsible for getting from Point A to Point B by themselves. … Far too often, parents lead their kids around because that’s the easy

way. Who’s going to lead them around when they’re 56?” he asked in an interview at the camp in early June.


The campers also make their own beds, clear their own dishes and take care of their own possessions, in addition to gardening, fishing, woodworking and

tackling agility courses. Those might seem like typical camp experiences, but they are planned carefully to match the “expanded core curriculum” for children

with visual impairments, Wurtzel said.


“Expanded core curriculum” refers to the idea that, in addition to learning math, science, English and social studies, children who are blind need specific

instruction in mobility, orientation (locating and returning objects), use of technology, and culinary, social, recreational and daily living skills.


“Things you or I learn by watching, these kids don’t get,” said Dawn Staley, a teacher consultant with the Traverse Bay Intermediate School District who

worked at the camp this summer. Sighted children pick up social clues from such things as a frown or a nodding head, which blind children miss, she said

as an example.


“Those are the things we work on endlessly here,” Wurtzel said. “The school districts are mandated to do all those things, but they don’t have the resources.”


OUB also makes it a point to hire staff members who are blind, not just to be role models for campers, but in order to give the young adults work experience.

One of them is Adrianne McDempsey, a senior camp counselor from Muskegon.


As the child of parents who “never babied me,” McDempsey said she was surprised to meet 14-year-old campers who could not cut their meat. One young camper

“was terrified to take a step alone,” she told Michigan Education Report during an interview at the camp in June.


Several parents, professionals and volunteers testified on behalf of the camp at the state board meeting.


“We need your help. We need to keep this going because it’s important for kids,” Sharon Burton, a camp volunteer and Lions Club member, told the state board

of education.




Lorie Shane is the managing editor of the Michigan Education Report, the Mackinac Center’s education policy journal. Permission to reprint in whole or in

part is hereby granted, provided that Michigan Education Report is properly cited.

Related Topics:



Education, School Boards


Education, Special Education



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User Comments


This agreement has saved the districts money yet we are chastised for it despite the fact the wording at issue was known to be invalid and unenforceable

by either side. I applaud our effort and believe this suit is frivolous. http://www.godfrey-lee.org/education/components/board/default.php?sectiondetailid=3458&threadid=554


carol peterson

education is an all around development for a child

he should be mentally and physically strong


<a href="http://rescueyoursavings.com" rel="dofollow">Savings</a>


carol peterson

education is an all around development for a child

he should be mentally and physically strong



Informative post. In order to deal with today's troubled youth, it is helpful to take a professional guidance for better teen recovery programs. Choosing

a specialized organization for troubled youth is one of the most important steps for better teen recovery. Boysville is one of the non profit organization

dedicated to help troubled youth with years of successful results by helping <a href=http://www.troubledteensguide.com/>troubled youth</a> to responsible

individuals. Hope this organization continue their priceless support to most of the needy troubled youth with various helpful services.



Public servants like Presidents, Vice-Presidents, Senators, Congressmen, Judges, Secretaries of Various Departments and the like should be first to be compensated

for performance.

The idea that the playing field for students is level everywhere is as Quixotic as thinking all politicians are honest and competent.

There are neighborhoods where only Portugese or gang sign language is spoken, where the parents both work two jobs to pay rent, where getting to school

and back is more dangerous than Iraq and Afghanastan.

This Secretary of Education has to remove the silver spoon, roll up his sleeves and take his superior intellect attitude into the trenches and show the

poor slobs that are taking their teachers jobs for granted how he would do it. Just because his mommy used to help out in Chicago doesn't give him the

Congression Medal of Honor. Actually he's a stuffed shirt pretending to know it all.

How much do you want to bet that he wouldn't attempt entering these neighborhoods let alone these schools without security.


verdemont resident

This article is tucked away yet is profoundly correct. Parents are pseudo parenting little objects of consumption. Teens, professionals, working moms like

the "idea" of a child but are not in for the long haul and everyone loses.


Schools are enabling parents to do precious little. The time parents spend with their children is the only thing that matters. Bussing needs to be cut,

school breakfast, lunch, and afterschool care needs to be stopped. Parents will grow that bond by sacrificing the nails, hair, parties, drugs, quads, vacations,

etc. and making a lunch for their child and arrangements to be home when the child is out of school. No one is that poor that they can't provide a boloney

sandwich, a baggie of pretzels, an apple, 50 cents for a milk, and two cookies each day.


Please respond!




Is it true that young ones today are losing interest on these subjects? Obviously, the White House is promoting programs that will help students on coping

up with math and science subjects. But, The federal government thinks that the quality of math and science education can repair credit with the scientific

community and improve US education with a few <a rev="vote for" title="U.S. Government Spends $250 Million on Science and Math" href="http://personalmoneystore.com/Payday-Loans/

">payday loans</a> of sorts. In reality, it will take far longer to accomplish than they might think – US educators can't even get students to accept that

"irregardless" isn't a word, and the difference between their, they're, and there – our students can't even learn their own language! It's a noble aim,

to be sure, but throwing money at it may not work in the long run.



I am a teacher in the same county who is presently trying to quit the union. Like Caldwell, I strongly disagree with the MEA.


This article was timely.


Rob Olson

Pittsford Area Schools




I agree this is a change worth making. I describe some of the uneven effects of the idea on my blog at http://rickolson.blogspot.com/2009/08/statewide-health-insurance-plan-for.html

which you may also wish to read.


The devil will be in the details, so this is one we will need to monitor closely.


Rick Olson from Saline, former school Business Manager




Nowadays, saving money is very crucial and properly investing the money can keep you and your family away from the effect of the financial crisis. The sad

news is that a lot of the options for short term funding have been drying up. Short term funding is a necessary thing to have around, and going through

traditional channels such as banks isn't an option for a lot of people anymore – basically it's only open to Ken Lewis. Installment loans are an option,

but some people, including senior citizens, have been thinking about raiding their retirement fund. Getting into your pension retirement plan or 401(k)

funds is the last thing you want to do if you don't qualify for any withdrawals yet. The penalties are substantial, and you'll end up needing installments

loans to pay them if you use retirement funds for <a rev="vote for" title="Installment Loans Reliable Option As 401(k)s are Dwindling" href="http://personalmoneystore.com/moneyblog/2009/05/17/installment-loans-reliable-option-401ks-dwindling/">short

term funding</a>.






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