Friday, April 18, 2014

BEYOND OBVIOUS

Here are the facts;

1) Haley Conway first aired the County Clerk’s concern about School Board redistricting in May of 2013. He reminded the Board of the need to re-align Board districts several times at subsequent meetings.

2) From the 2010 census;

District 1 – Haley Conway – represents 12,706 citizens – 27% of the 2010 county population
District 2 - Jo Anna Fryman – represents 11,742 citizens – 25% of the 2010 county population

District 3 - Jennifer Holbert - represents 11,114 citizens – 23% of the 2010 county population
District 4 - Rebecca Sams - represents 6,931 citizens - 15% of the 2010 county population
District 5 - Roger Ward - represents 4,671 citizens - 10% of the 2010 county population

Anyone see a disparity here? Conway represents three citizens to Ward's one. What, other than a political motivation, would be the reason to avoid fixing this? And why would the district’s Superintendent and the Board’s attorney inject themselves into a decision that is entirely the Board’s?

Once we get clearance to post video of the Tuesday, April 15, 2014 Scott County School Board meeting, yes, first scroll over to where a citizen is ejected from the meeting, but then spend some thoughtful time studying what led to that disgraceful act.

Pay careful attention to the Board Attorney’s contempt for our County Clerk and his bizarre argument concerning her use of 2010 census data. It is never clear, but is he suggesting the Board wait until 2020 to redistrict?

The disparities have only gotten worse since 2010 folks. Roger Ward’s district 1 is land locked and cannot grow relative to the explosive growth Districts 1,2 and 3 are experiencing. And that low number of voters serves Mr. Ward well, as redistricting would increase his voters, thus diluting the Faith Baptist Church vote that will otherwise keep Roger installed. And so what if the target numbers from 2010 are dated? You could not achieve a worse disparity than exists now if you tried. If it is so important, shame whoever was Board Attorney in 2010 didn’t see to it that the Board redistrict then.

Also pay careful attention to the Superintendent’s desperate concern that redistricting risks districting one or more Board members out of their own district. WOW! In her defense though, maybe she’s supposing Roger will be in charge of the effort?

But pay particular attention to the mind numbing ramblings of Board Chair Roger Ward doing his string puller’s bidding. He is clearly uncomfortable but champions on with absurd reasoning that exposes the political motive behind his resistance of redistricting. This whole episode demonstrates how critical it is that the string pullers keep Roger and that other disproportionate district seat holder, Becky Sams ’(4th district), installed.

And then the clincher. Roger Ward has the unmitigated gall to accuse Haley Conway of political motivations, wondering “why it’s being proposed at this time”. HE PROPOSED IT ALMOST A YEAR AGO ROGER, IN A NON-ELECTION YEAR! Geesh! You must genuinely see “STUPID” written on all our foreheads.

Oh, and another little fact. In a March 2014 work session chaired by vice chair Jo Anna Fryman (another meeting missed by Ward, by far the holder of the Board’s highest absenteeism rate) Fryman, Holbert and Conway voted 3 to Sams 1 to proceed with redistricting. This was the little fact that audience member Carole Landry could not allow Ward to ignore, and the reason Ward instructed Human Resource Director and apparent Sergeant At Marms, Rick Culross, to eject Mrs. Landry. Pitiful.

There is more that needs said about this meeting, including agenda manipulation and discriminatory public comment, but that must wait as we monitor the continued attempt to build a satellite classroom in lieu of a bona fide 2nd High School. That effort continues at next Monday's Local Planning Committee meeting and at next Tuesday’s work session. There is no good reason a small high school cannot begin construction soon and grow to full size 5 to 7 years from now. WITHOUT ADDITIONAL TAXES! The bonding capacity is growing monthly but keeps getting robbed to support an incredible percentage of high paid, non-teaching staff.

Oh, we almost forgot. At least 1 petition is circulating in the 4th district that by state law will bypass Roger’s agenda and force the Board to redistrict. All that is required is 100 signatures. If you vote in the Board’s 4th district (Becky Sams’ district) as does Carole Landry, and wish to sign, we understand you can do so at the Stamping Ground IGA. If our elected officials won’t represent their constituent's desires, the constituents will continue to do the elected official’s job. Shame.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

embarrASSing

We intend to soon post youtube video of this past Tuesday's Scott County School Board meeting. Words can't convey the dysfunction infecting this Board. From agenda manipulation to disrespecting an invited County Clerk to commanding the district's lilliputian HR Director to eject a 70 something year old lady, this Board Chair brings embarrassment to our entire community. Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

LPC - Easy Peasy

Done right, an LPC's job is difficult. But as it was with the 2010 Local Planning Committee, the current and recently installed LPC's job should be a breeze, although for an entirely different reason. State law requires school districts statewide to convene a committee of 20 every four years to recommend facility plans to its local school board. Scott County's 2010 LPC, with orders in hand, unprecedentedly recommended the board abandon the 2006 LPC's already in progress building of a second high school and use the remaining monies to instead build what came to be called Lemons Mill Elementary School. Nothing to it. Easy indeed. With those orders in hand exhausting the taxpayer's money for the foreseeable future, LME became the only facility project completed by the 2010 John Cooper team besides the bizarre waste of 2 million dollars called the cafeteria expansion. 2014's LPC could send a strong message indeed by taking it just as easy. Forget the exhaustive studies of the district's facilities and simply recommend a second high school. With a board resolution already in place stating its commitment to a second high school, and with a second high school sure to consume any and all facility bonding capacity for the next four years anyway, why expend unnecessary energy? That's right Chairman Jesse, go through the required motions of course, but tomorrow night throw the KSBA's facilitator a curve and just take it easy.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

THE SOUND OF SILENCE


It is when things are the quietest that you should be most concerned about what’s going on at your School Board.  Notice that other than an article about the district extending school days for students and certified staff beginning next week, there was no coverage of last Tuesday’s (3-11-14) School Board regular meeting in the Georgetown News Graphic.  Also notice there was no “Meeting Summary” posted on the district’s website or emailed to employees as is customary following a meeting.

While things may appear quiet, be assured the public’s public business is going on at hyperspeed privately via email , telephone and one on one meetings. Regardless if this technically violates the letter of open meetings law, it absolutely violates the spirit. How else can the Board disregard and skip over an agenda item with no public explanation and not one Board member commenting, even when an audience member pointed out the item had been skipped?  There was no amendment concerning Agenda Item 21 at the beginning of Tuesday's meeting as there was to rearrange two other Agenda items that otherwise would have had the Board approving airline transport for a student trip to Italy before approving the actual trip itself.  And no revised agenda posted on the district’s website where last minute agenda revisions usually show. Status Quo.

Why so quiet?  We are now two years and a month after the infamous 2012 Valentine’s Day School Board meeting where this community made loud and clear their expectations of our School Board and the gross  overcrowding at Scott County High School.  And we are now a year and three months into the terms of our newly elected Board Members, whose election further resonated those expectations.  What have we to show for it? A greedy and botched attempt to further burden the taxpayers with a 27% tax increase to cover the Board’s ineptness that went down in flames. Vision indeed!

How long must this community and its high school students wait for this Board.  There is no good reason construction should not already be underway growing our second high school off the north elevation of the ECS building as was promised by the 2006 District Facility Plan and confirmed by the district’s Director of Facilities, Mike Luscher in a detailed 2008 Georgetown News Graphic article.  There are sufficient monies currently available to have this underway and sufficient Bonding potential coming on line daily to grow the school to maturation in the next few years.  In the meantime, the small high school can relieve SCHS and can be administered by the underutilized administrative staff at ECS.

But the silence seems to be indicating that our Board may instead be posturing to allow the soon to be appointed 2014 Local Planning Committee (LPC) to do the Board's heavy lifting, with the single high school faction well represented in those appointed to that committee.  Given our School Board’s inability to affect our high school’s overcrowding, we had suggested this very tact in a previous blog post but with the condition the LPC not be populated with ringers. Don’t be surprised to see a Ninth Grade School recommended be built separate from ECS from this group.  Just check  the composition of the 2014 LPC.

Silence like a cancer grows.

(note - not long after this posting a typically incomplete Board Meeting Summary did appear on the district's website)

Friday, March 7, 2014

Quick Election Alert Update

At this past Tuesday's (3-4-14) Scott School Board work session, with Board Chair Roger Ward absent, the issue we brought up in the post below this was discussed. Under the direction of vice-chair JoAnna Fryman, the Board agreed to have the Superintendent contact County Clerk Rebecca Johnson, (the same Clerk Roger Ward offended recently concerning her handling of the recall petition) and solicit Mrs. Johnson's help in redistricting the School Board districts.

We are encouraged that the Board now agrees with us that this important redistricting occur, but are disappointed with their deadline to accomplish it of July 1st.  As we recommended in our last post, if the Board cannot get the redistricting completed by the election official's desire of the primary elections in early May, then it should be postponed until after the November general elections. Shame on Mr. Ward for not allowing this to have already been accomplished.

We stand by our recommendation.  July 1st, a scant 5 weeks before the filing deadline for Board elections, only confuses the election process, doesn't allow enough time to educate the public to the new districts and for all the other reasons we mentioned in our previous post effectively tampers with the election.  Either complete the redistricting by the primary election in early May, or postpone the redistricting until after the general election in November.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

ELECTION ALERT


It was at the May 14th, 2013 Scott County School Board meeting that Board Member Haley Conway shared with the Board our local election official’s concerns that Scott County School Board Districts needed realignment to fix the disproportionate population numbers the current districts have.  Those election officials had hoped to have had redrawn Board Districts by this May’s primary elections, a full year after their appeal, so as to affect them at the same time as they were affecting state and magisterial redistricting and minimize the complications the resultant “split precincts” would bring.

For whatever reason or reasons, the School Board once again ignored Mr. Conway and has failed to address this important issue.  Important because of how it impacts the election process and important because constituents deserve proportionate representation on the School Board.  Let us speculate a possible reason, in hopes of pre-empting should our speculation be correct.  Speculation, we remind you, would not be necessary were this a transparent School Board.

Consider what could happen and be completely legal.  With School Board Chair Roger Ward’s and sidekick Becky Sam’s seats up this November, Roger, in his capacity as Board Chair, can choose to wait until after the School Board Candidate filing deadline of August 12 to redistrict.  Doing so could allow him a peek at the opposition for his and Becky’s seats, then could allow him to gerrymander that opposition out of contention for their seats.  Don’t put such a bold move past the faction, desperate as they are to retain Roger and Becky’s influence on the Board.

Board election rules require that a candidate for a particular district’s Board seat must live in that district.  Election rules allow redistricting right up until the general election in November.  It would be  but a simple matter in a community whose newspaper turns a blind eye to School Board shenanigans to redistrict any competition for Roger and Becky’s seats right out of contention.

Another potential circumstance would have a worthy candidate who wishes they could run against either Roger or Becky, but can’t because they do not live in either of those districts, discovering after the filing deadline that they now do live in one of those districts.

Whatever the reason for the Board not affecting redistricting in a timely manner, it at the very least casts a chilling effect on the election process by the suspicion and confusion it adds.  Our recommendation, again in School Board Agenda format:

SCHOOL BOARD REDISTRICTING – Recommendation: the Board either get busy and present election officials with redistricted School Board district maps that proportion populations amongst districts by the Primary Election date in May AND publicize those maps to the community, OR postpone any redistricting efforts until after the November General Elections AND communicate this decision to the community.

Anything less, in our opinion, constitutes election tampering.

 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

JUST SAY NO


As planned and as we predicted, Roger Ward is poised to foist upon this community the single high school faction’s “satellite overflow building” and can now claim that Bubba Public, by recalling his tax increase, has left him no other choice.  Only one thing stands in Roger’s way, and he attempted to overcome that obstacle at Tuesday evening’s Scott County School Board meeting.  And the fireworks flew!

“What”, you say?  “Fireworks?  Why, I read the school district’s summary of the meeting and there was no mention of any fireworks, nor any mention of obstacles.  I’m still waiting to read the News Graphic account.”

Well, unless the News Graphic views the video, there will be no account, because of all Board meetings to miss, they “chose” this one. Hmmm!  And were it not for the tireless efforts of Brad and Carol Landry, neither would you hear it here.   Brad and Carol attended their first Scott School Board meeting well after the infamous Valentine Day 2012 meeting, but after comparing what they observed at their first meeting with what was published by the district in its Board Summary and what was published in the local paper, Brad and Carol resolved to video record each meeting since.  And boy, are we thankful!

Here’s the set up.  Recall that we alerted the School Board in our October 19th post that they had been hoodwinked into filing a District Facility Plan with Frankfort, supposedly as a “placeholder” so they could get started right away with construction of a second high school after passing their tax increase.  We pointed out though that this “placeholder” in actuality described the satellite building proposed the previous fall, the one if constructed would guarantee Scott County would not see a second high school for the foreseeable future. Having the public balk at their “doomed by design” tax increase allows the faction to move ahead with this satellite project (they will call it a phase I of a second high school just as they called ECS a phase I of a second high school), claiming Bubba Public has left them no other option.  On Tuesday night’s Agenda was a curious item that read – “DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION ON A GENERAL CONTRACTOR OR CONSTRUCTION MANAGER”. This item was deep in the agenda as Item #23.

Before any KY school board can proceed with any agenda action items it must first, as a Board, vote to approve the agenda for the meeting.  The process goes like this – the Board Chair calls for a motion, then a second, then opens the floor for discussion amongst the Board members after which they vote. Never in the history of Scott School Boards has this taken more than say, 10 seconds.  Not so on Tuesday.

After calling for a motion and receiving one from his sidekick Becky Sams, Roger called for a second, but only received silence.  He quickly seconded Becky’s motion himself and  opened the floor for fireworks, oops, we mean discussion.  Jennifer Holbert spoke right away and boldly questioned the appropriateness of Item #23 being on the regular meeting agenda and moved to amend the agenda by dropping Item #23 and placing it instead on a future work session agenda.  Roger did what he always does when things don’t go as choreographed, he gazed to his Superintendent for direction.  Mrs. Putty said she thought it would be wrong to drop the item as a guest was scheduled to arrive later to join in the discussion component of Item #23.  Ms. Holbert expressed her regrets for the unknown to her guest and said had someone responded to her concern about this agenda item four days previous, this would have all been unnecessary.  Mrs. Putty then chastised Ms. Holbert to “read your policy”, obviously confusing the policy requirement that Board members must submit additions to the agenda at least 7 days prior to the meeting.  Ms. Holbert did not want to add an item, she wanted to delete one.  The policy reads “ The agenda of a regular meeting may be amended at the meeting upon affirmative vote of at least three (3) members”.  Nevermind.  Mrs. Putty repeated her admonition several more times to Ms. Holbert to “read your policy”.

Folks, it may not sound like fireworks as you read it here, but Mr. Landry’s camera caught the eyes and facial expressions of these two, and we assure you it was hot!  At about this time fellow Board member JoAnna Fryman spoke up in agreement with Jennifer.  That’s when Roger Ward, sounding like Elmer Fudd, began trying to salvage the precious Agenda item.  Too late. With third member Haley Conway in agreement, and per Board policy, Jennifer, JoAnna and Haley forced a vote to amend with Roger and Becky the predictable no votes.

Here’s what’s important though.  We don’t know if these three realized the full gravity of their bold vote or were just acting out of common sense.  But it’s important that they understand that the only thing preventing Roger Ward, in his capacity as Board Chair from proceeding with the satellite building as described in the District Facility Plan and approved by the state, is getting Board approval of someone to build it, as he was hoping to sneak past the Board in the form of Agenda Item #23.

Yes, Scott County High School students needed a second high school the day before yesterday, but considering the hidden agenda to circumvent it, here’s our recommendation in School Board meeting agenda format – JUST SAY NO – Recommendation – the Board vote no on any item that even remotely resembles a construction project until after the November elections and a new Board is seated.

Yes, that’s another nine months, and we regret it, but it the only way to assure the right thing has a chance to be done for Scott County.  The Board was initially poised to wait until then for a recall vote anyway and our bonding potential will also grow during this time (if not continued to be used for General Fund wishes), allowing the newly seated Board a better circumstance in which to make a proper  decision.

Know that the clock is ticking for the faction and their string pullers.  They must get construction started on their satellite building, thus assuring no second high school, before the November elections remove their remaining influence on the School Board.  Please, Jennifer, JoAnna and Haley, join together and just say “NO” to any attempts to approve a builder (construction manager or general contractor). It’s your only leverage.