YUKON — The Yukon School Board adopted policy changes Monday aimed at curbing “skimming,” the practice of overcharging for livestock, within the district's vocational agriculture program, which is among the largest in the state.
The district's Future Farmers of America program has come under scrutiny in recent months after a wealthy local couple filed a lawsuit claiming they'd been overcharged for a show steer by roughly $4,000. The lawsuit claimed the couple were overcharged by a former agriculture instructor who has since left the program.
The policy changes adopted by the board include a new rule that requires parents to deal directly with breeders or ranchers when buying livestock for the district's FFA program.
In the past, parents or guardians were essentially giving agriculture instructors a blank check to buy animals and had very little to do with the transaction.
Jeff Deckard, vice president of the school board, said the new policy will protect the school district, students and parents.
“This is just a better way,” Deckard said. “This just makes it so the issue shouldn't even come up again. The whole idea ... is on the cutting edge.”
At the same time, Deckard said the change would likely be challenging. He said he thought it would be difficult to get breeders and ranchers to change the way they've done business for decades.
Others at the meeting, including Superintendent Bill Denton, agreed.
“It's changing the culture,” Deckard said. “And this is a close-knit group.”
Deckard also revealed during the meeting that he was in favor of “killing” Yukon's large agriculture program, but said the policy changes gave him a change of heart. He had some stern words for certain parents and other adults involved in the school's FFA program.
“Participating in this program is a privilege for our kids. Period,” Deckard said. “When that gets awry ... we get to where we've been for the past 14, 16 months.”