Monday, September 28, 2015

"PUBLIC SCRUTINY" the 2014-15 Salary List

Suspicion anyone who criticizes our release of this salary list. Remember this is public sector, not private. That is why KY law requires school districts provide for "public scrutiny" of the salary list for each fiscal year just ended. Shame your local newspaper to whom the list must be provided will not publish it.

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) recommends school districts spend no more than 73% of their annual operating budget on salaries.  Scott County Schools spends 83% of its $54 million budget. According to KDE's recommendation, Scott County should spend NO MORE than 73% of $54,000,000 or $39,420,000, but in fact spends 83% of $54,000,000 or $44,820,000.  $44,820,000 minus $39,420,00 means Scott County Schools spends $5,400,000 more than the maximum recommendation on salaries EACH AND EVERY YEAR!!!

No one, least of all us, begrudges any of the teachers and necessary support personnel in the list below their well deserved salaries.  But there's plenty of names on this list whose efforts have little or nothing to do with students in the classroom.  Over five million dollars each and every year is spent on employees whose activities lie outside the classroom, explaining all those bimmers and such choking the parking lot outside Central Office during school hours many school days. Who knows where they are when not at Central Office? And we wonder why we haven't the money to build a proper second high school.

Remember, there are two piles of money in school districts - the General Fund and the Construction Fund. The General Fund funds the operating budget, and the Construction Fund builds our schools.  Scott County Schools robs its Construction Fund regularly to satiate its salary appetite, yet never provides its Construction Fund any General Funds money, which is entirely allowable and even encouraged by law. The salary list below is where  $44,820,00 of the General Fund is spent each year, leaving just $9 million dollars to operate all other facets of the district. No wonder we could never (and still can't) afford all day kindergarten.

Each year in early September your duly elected School Board raises your school taxes 4%, just as they did a few weeks ago again this year.  Just a couple of years ago the Roger Ward led School Board approved an outrageous 27% school tax increase, but rescinded it only when a citizen petition forced it to be placed for a public vote. Our current School Board can not snap its fingers and undo the years of previous Board's complacency (or complicity), but contribute to our salary burden by not scrutinizing new hiring and new positions.  Analysis of the list below shows that in the last two years alone, non-school bus driving personnel costs in Scott's Transportation Department have increased over $200,000 dollars. Well over $200 thousand in fact, just in administrative positions in this one department. Where's the value added?  Take your 4% if you must School Board, but don't expect the taxpayers of this county to ante up any more to cover the excesses.

KY State Law requires school districts to provide the list below to their local newspaper.  Your newspaper's publisher, Mike Scogin, receives but chooses to not publish the list, claiming it too expensive to do so.  He also refused to provide a copy of the list this year (see previous post) and refused to quote a price for others to pay him to publish the list.  But his heart is truly revealed in his not posting it on his newspaper's website. There, it costs him nothing, save perhaps his wife's job in the school district and his paper's propping up.

Remember the list below is for what each listed employee was paid for the entire fiscal year ended this past June 30.  Low salaries may be explained by an employee not working the entire year. Oh, and understand there are many different contract terms - such as Mike Luscher's 100 day a year contract, all the way up to "full time" 260 day contracts that the list doesn't specify. Should you wish to compare to the 2013-14 list we posted last year, you must search the "older posts"  and go to the September 24, 2014 post "Public Trough".  The random nature of the list is Superintendent Putty's signature. Wonder who it is she has purposely randomize it.

While this list doesn't explain where the construction money goes, it does show why we can't fix Garth's AC.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Carol Landry, described as a "gadfly" by the Georgetown News Graphic, continues to do the moniker proud.  Recall Carol being escorted from a Scott County School Board meeting by self-appointed Sargent at Arms and now departed Human Resources Director Dr.* Rick Culross, himself a full inch taller than Mrs. Landry. 

Mrs. Landry, repeating her effort from this time a year ago, visited News Graphic publisher Mike Scogin a week ago to solicit a copy of Scott County Schools 2014-15 employee salary schedule.  Mr. Scogin, reluctant last year, this time said "no". 

Please do not confuse Mrs. Landry's interest in the salaries list. She, just as we, do not begrudge any rank and file Scott County Schools employee their well deserved salary. However, with Scott Schools spending over five million dollars per year more on salaries than recommended by the Kentucky Department of Education, the list is instructive to see who is receiving that five mil. And Roger Ward's School Board wanted a tax increase! HA!  Rich indeed!

Reflecting the law, Scott School Board policy 03.121 and 03.221 states " The Board shall maintain for public scrutiny a factual list of individual salaries of its employees for the fiscal year just closed and shall furnish that list by mail to a newspaper qualified under KRS 424.120 to publish advertisements for the District".  That newspaper is Mr. Scogin's Georgetown News Graphic                                                  

There can be little doubt that over the years Mr. Scogin was not requiring the school district to satisfy their legal obligation to provide his newspaper the annual salary list. Or, at least he was not printing it.  And little doubt he was taken by surprise last year when Mrs. Landry inquired about it.  That was when everyone had to get busy and get the list to the paper. And although refusing to publish the list as is the intent of the law that requires he be provided it, he did eventually relinquish a copy to Mrs. Landry back then. 

But having been refused a copy from the school district last year, Mrs. Landry this year went directly to Mr. Scogin last Wednesday. Curiously, Mr. Scogin referred Mrs. Landry to the public library for a copy. Obliging what appears now an exercise to buy Mr. Scogin time to get an actual copy in his hands and thus keep the district out of hot water, Mrs. Landry dispatched her husband Brad to the library.  There Mr. Landry approached a very cooperative clerk at the library desk. That clerk, having no idea why Mr. Scogin would think the library would have a copy, none the less called the school district on Mr. Landry's behalf and spoke to the Director of Human Resources' secretary to find out.  That secretary informed the clerk (without hesitation, mind you) that an official open records legal request would be required for anyone (other than the newspaper) to obtain a copy. Hmmm.  Would have been interesting to have been a fly on the wall between the time Mrs. Landry spoke to Mr. Scogin and when the clerk called the school district. But it gets more interesting. And more obvious. 

Sniffing what was going on, Mr. Landry quickly traveled to visit Mr. Scogin back at his News Graphic office.  Guess what?  Mr. Scogin was now out of the office, and repeated calls from Mrs. Landry for the balance of the day failed to reach him. 

Next day, Thursday,  Mrs. Landry finally met up with Mr. Scogin at his office where, with no explanation of the library debacle, he flatly denied Mrs. Landry a copy of the list as he had provided last year.  Why not, Mr. Scogin?  Weak, yes, but here's the clincher. 

With Mr. Scogin already having told Mrs. Landry the list was too long for him to publish as is the intent of the law requiring he be provided it, MR. SCOGIN REFUSED TO QUOTE A PRICE FOR MRS. LANDRY SO THAT SHE COULD PAY FOR IT HERSELF TO BE PUBLISHED!  He would only repeat that the cost was very high, AND WOULD NOT PROVIDE HER A COPY!

Mrs. Landry the gadfly has already filed the open records request. She will have a copy of the list. Scogin and Putty know Mrs. Landry won't be intimidated or denied.  What do their antics accomplish other than expose Scogin and antagonize Mrs. Landry?  But the bigger question, what do we as a community do about our newspaper?  Mr. Scogin and his newspaper's failure as a school district watchdog for over twenty years bear much responsibility for the fiscal and morale mess our school district finds itself in. And now, after being editorially absent all those years, Mr. Scogin  shows up editorially to trash our new School Board. What do we do folks?  WHAT DO WE DO? 

Carol Landry, gadfly now turned MADfly, will know.  And will lead the charge.

Saturday, September 12, 2015


Having been allowed to behave as a top dog all this time when she should have been a lame duck, Scott County's  Superintendent of Schools had her ears clipped at last Thursday night's School Board meeting.  School Board members tired of the Superintendent controlling the agenda of THEIR meetings took charge Thursday night by approving three amendments of their choosing to the agenda. And all at the last minute, providing the additional benefit of not allowing the Super advance notice for her to pre-empt their initiatives.   

Far and away though, the most compelling and most important action to taxpayers that night was not an amendment, but rather the tabling of the awarding of the multi-million dollar Great Crossing High School site preparation and excavation contract.  This tabling occurred after revelations that the lowest bidder bid from plans different from what the Board had approved and some other curiositys concerning the process.  There is so much more to this story (much more than reported in the Saturday News Graphic account) that we are reserving it for our next blog post to follow shortly.  For now, here's a quick summary of the other happenings Thursday night, all important in themselves.  

With no Garth Elementary School Principal in sight, Director of Maintenance Dwayne Ellison stood in as punching bag for Wednesday's revelation that Garth Elementary's students (both sound and medically fragile) and staff have held class for weeks in record heat without benefit of air conditioning. Acknowledging that air conditioners break and will always break, the Board was instead livid that no one – NO ONE – alerted them of the situation. But worse, the Board was beyond livid that parents were not alerted to the conditions at the school. NO EXCUSE! And the Superintendent just sat silent while her Director of Maintenance took the heat (no pun intended). Yes, she sat silent, just more shameful behavior little different than her robbing her soon to come successor the opportunity to name his own secretary.  The Board would have been none the wiser about Garth's situation had Board Chair Haley Conway not stopped by there early Wednesday morning on his way to work and discovered temperatures already in the mid-eighties. Knowing fellow Board member Stephanie Powers had a kindergarten son enrolled at Garth, Conway contacted her.  Mrs. Powers immediately stepped up and did what should have long since occurred – she went to Lowes and bought out their stock of fans and delivered them to the school. At Thursday's meeting, Mrs. Powers admitted the anger she had felt the previous day learning her own son had spent the school year in a room with NO air conditioning, possibly explaining his aggravated asthma of recent and his recent dread of going to school.  How fearful of retaliation must school staff be to have kept this situation quiet, and for so long? The Superintendent was quoted in a News Graphic article saying she had only learned of  Garth's ac problems at a Tuesday principal's meeting. Who knows what is true, but it IS true that the Principal failed to notify parents and if true that she also failed to advise the Superintendent until the day before Mr. Conway discovered the problem, (some coincidence, huh?) that Principal should be fired immediately.  But the Super just sat silent. 

Next up - seems a week or so ago Mrs. Putty personally posted another job position not approved by the Board, this after a protracted meeting just a few months ago where the Board had expressed their frustrations over just such goings on and explicitly instructed the Super to correct this behavior. When confronted about the job posting Thursday evening, the Super invoked her trademark obfuscation just as she did those months ago when she purposely confused the simplest matter of another job appointment that now has the district in a nepotism violation. This time the Board held strong and required the posting be pulled and the job not hosted in Scott County.  Clip, clip. 

As if double dipping Sonny "Raffle Ticket" Deniston doesn't have his hand in the till of enough athletic booster fund accounts, new Scott County High School principal Joe Pat Covington found time to bring before the Board (with Sonny on his arm) the important issue of establishing yet another athletic fund called a "General Athletic Booster Fund" .  You'll remember Sonny (in his Athletic Director role back then) as the individual who brought the tradition of Toyota raffling a Toyota Camry at the annual Toyota Classic basketball tournament to an end when a bunch - a BIG bunch - of raffle tickets could not be accounted for. Yet the Board approved another fund for "Raffle" to oversee.  Nice do, Raffle. 

George Will wannebe and bored attorney Bob Chenowith apparently has continued his string of incorrect advice to the Board, this time concerning a Board policy contention with state regulation. Mr. Chenowith seems of late to be interpreting state law as he needs it to read, instead of what it actually says, as cover for his failingsRecall the bored attorney (who recently asked to not be required to attend Board meetings) was going to "set KDE straight" a year or so ago concerning a construction issue, but came back from that meeting with his tail between his legs only to have cost the process additional time and having to admit that the Board would in fact have to resubmit a correct request to the KDE facility branch as KDE had originally instructed.  And who can forget Mr. Chenowith advising previous Board Chair Roger Ward that he needn't be concerned with a 1940's era law that allowed a citizen petition to force redistricting of School Board election districts.  Recall Ward not allowing the Board a vote on redistricting Well, Chenowith was wrong again, as the Kentucky Board of Education called a special meeting to solely consider a citizen petition to redistrict Scott Board voting districts, and the KBOE ruled for the petition.  Bad advice indeed as Ward failed to win even one of his re-districted nine precincts!  Mr. Chenowith's rash of mis-steps are not lost on his contemporaries, some attributing the mis-steps to his severe back pain. He has our empathy, but even severe pain does not excuse his condescending treatment of anyone who questions his advice.  Recall his treatment of Board member JoAnna Fryman when she "went around" Chenowith and sought advice from a KDE official, with Chenowith subsequently stating Mrs. Fryman should "contract with KDE" instead of him for legal advice.  Oh – and there was Chenowith's pitiful defense put forward when schstoobig questioned whether the Superintendent's unadvertised gathering of her entire School Board in her van for a trip to visit a planetarium in northern KY that she wanted to emulate in Lemons Mill Elementary. That gathering of the Board without public notice was a violation a KY open meeting law.  The resultant lit tennis courts and ball fields at Lemons Mill Elementary were Putty's response to the community's outcry over the planetarium. Anyway, Mr. Chenowith would not even hear the policy/regulation contention at Thursday's meeting as requested by Board Chair Haley Conway, claiming he (Chenowith) had already sent the Board an email with his opinion. End of discussion. This even after Artistic Director of Transportation Roy Prince (involved in the writing of much school transportation law during his long tenure at KDE) concurred that the contention existed at the previous meeting where the issue was originally discussed and Chenowith was not present. The George Will act is wearing thin, Bob. 

There was more, but still the most important and most curious of Thursday night's extravaganza was the tabled Great Crossing High School excavation and site prep award.  We are researching this curious event and hope to post about it in a few days. Stay tuned. And then watch for our release of the 2014-15 Scott School District salaries soon after that!