Sense of urgency needed to straighten out nonprofit

Problems within the nonprofit Strive to Excel program that operates out of Hilton Head Island High School cannot be treated as business as usual by the Beaufort County School District.

Public comments by school board members and Superintendent Valerie Truesdale are inadequate, given the magnitude of Strive's shortcomings.

When questions were raised about Strive president and CEO Tim Singleton's compensation of $138,582, the laissez faire attitude should have left in a hurry. Singleton's pay is a third of the organization's total budget. He oversees only one employee.

Even more worrisome is that Singleton's compensation package from Strive was raised by $40,000 last year without approval from Strive's governing board.

In fact, the community has just learned that Strive for all practical purposes has no governance above Singleton. Its bylaws call for seven board members, but only one person now claims to be a member of the board. It doesn't appear to have a treasurer, which leads to the question of what tens of thousands of dollars of expenses listed on its federal tax filings were used for and by whom.

Strive to Excel is a local program designed to help targeted students aim higher, get into college, manage time wisely, improve public speaking skills, encourage each other, and get the family involved in goal-setting. It offers college scholarships to students who meet specified goals.

This newspaper has given a lot of space and encouragement to the program and Singleton over the years because of these laudable goals.

Now we see a mess that needs to be cleaned up.

The community is owed a look at all of Strive's financial records, and the obligation to provide it falls to the school district. The school district must demand accountability from a nonprofit that uses its building, and uses the credibility of its inherent endorsement to seek donations. The school district is further involved because Singleton's salary is funneled through the school district, though it is supposed to be set by the Strive board and refunded to the district by Strive.

It's not acceptable for the school board to simply sit by, with some members saying they know nothing about Strive and others hoping the problem will be resolved by Truesdale.

It's time for some adult supervision of Strive to Excel, and Truesdale needs to lead the charge.