School Board Chair Accuses Whitney President of Creating Conflict

In recent weeks, a disagreement has played out publicly between the Sheridan District 2 School Board and the Whitney Benefits foundation based in Sheridan over funding of a proposed multi-recreational facility.

Most recently, the attorney for the school district challenged the opinion of the attorney representing Whitney Benefits that a school recreation center does not fit the criteria for funding, set out by the Whitney will that establishes how the estate money can be spent.

But in a recent interview with Sheridan Media, school board Chairman Rich Bridger said they never intended to challenge the foundation’s decision, but wanted to investigate how a project they deemed the community wanted, as a whole, could be funded by this multi-million dollar foundation.

Rather than being the catalyst for discussion, however, Bridger said the letter was met by a rejection letter from foundation President Tom Kinnison that was published in the local newspaper, not sent to the school board, first. Because it was done in this way, Chairman Bridger believes President Kinnison is trying to escalate a conflict.

And, this he stated in a letter Bridger recently sent to Kinnison, and released to Sheridan Media, after knowing Kinnison had received the correspondence. Bridger goes on to say, in the letter, that he does not know if Kinnison’s public attack against the project and school district was from him, alone, or as a representative of the entire Whitney board.

In the letter, the school board chairman emphasizes that the discussion of a recreational facility are in the exploratory phase and that a capital construction committee has never made a formal recommendation to move forward on the project, and as a result, has taken no formal action.

He goes on to say, in the letter, that the board’s goal is to provide each student of the district and the community with quality and comprehensive educational opportunities. To achieve this goal, he said they are often obligated to “think outside of the box” to develop ideas.

He said positive discussions about the project have been ongoing for more than two years with leaders of many community groups and organizations. So, it was a likely choice, he said, to explore possibilities with Whitney Benefits, based on the foundation’s long history of funding numerous non-college programs throughout the community.

The most recent letter is posted below.

To see the previous story, with letters attached, go to --

school_board_chairman_letter_to_whitney_trustees.pdf87.54 KB