Whitney Benefits, School District Dispute Causes Confusion

Since the public back and forth allegations between the Whitney Benefits foundation and Sheridan School District 2, regarding the possible funding for a multi-recreational center in Sheridan, have become confusing to some, Sheridan Media put together a time-line of the written correspondence between the two boards.

Going back to Dec. 30, a letter from the school district’s attorney Tracy Copenhaver to the Whitney Board offered the opinion that the multi-million-dollar Whitney Benefits foundation can fund education programs for the youth of Sheridan County provided by schools other than Sheridan Community College and that the primary charitable purpose for the Whitney Benefits fund was education and was not limited to a college education.

A letter in response, dated Feb. 19, from Whitney Benefits to the school district signed by Whitney President Tom Kinnison said the terms of the Whitney will restrained and limited the discretion of the Whitney board and nowhere provided for the payment by Whitney Benefits of any direct grants to local school districts.

Then a letter dated March 7, signed by school board chair Richard Bridger, questioned that if Whitney’s discretion was so restrained and limited, why could the foundation fund numerous non-college programs, like those for the Green House elder-care living complex and the Bradford Brinton historical museum, which at first-glance would not seem to fit the terms of the Whitney will as understood by the Whitney board.

At this point, Sheridan Media has learned that in the case of the two projects, as well as several others, funds were first contributed to Sheridan College, which in-turn acted as a conduit to the various organizations.

To gain a better understanding as to why this procedure was deemed acceptable, Sheridan Media contacted Whitney Board President Tom Kinnison over the weekend, but he declined to comment on the exchange, as a whole. Sheridan College President Dr. Paul Young was also contacted, but was out of town, so unavailable.

We do hope to have the answer to this question and others regarding the Whitney foundation and its funding restrictions, early this week, following an interview with Roy Garber, who’s been designated as the spokesperson for the foundation