Sunday, May 1, 2016

IT IS DONE

Patricia Putty was never THE problem. A review of our earliest posts reveal we were always about bringing attention to the complacent School Board of the 20 year Becky Sams reign that hired Mrs. Putty as Superintendent of Scott County Schools. That attention brought an almost wholesale swap of School Board members beginning with the November 2012 Board elections, but retained current Chairman (then member) Haley Conway because he had the good sense to not sign the Board's reprehensible January 2012 "letter of lies" (see the early posts at our original website link at the top of this page).

And while the current Board is not perfect, it at least had the good sense to recognize that Patricia Putty (the author of the "letter of lies") was A problem and voted unanimously in February of 2015 to not renew her contract at expiration, June 30, 2016. But good news! Today's signing of a four year contract with Dr. Kevin Hub welcomes a new era for Scott County Schools. Hasten July 1.

We have been slow to welcome Dr. Hub to Scott County Schools only because we respect that it is not a done deal until a mutually agreeable contract is signed. Should anyone make anything of the little glitch of the Board's secretary not being present to sign today, they will only expose their agenda. WELCOME Dr. Kevin Hub to Scott County Schools!

Dr. Hub succeeds the legacies of a "strip club" Superintendent; a "spend at all costs" Superintendent; and most recently a "Peter Principle" Superintendent. Unlike Tom Shelton's following the popular Stu Silberman as Superintendent at Fayette County School, Dr. Hub has made a wise choice to come to Scott County. He needs only to not offend to be considered a success here. But we hope for so much more and the students and taxpayers deserve so much more. By all appearances he is equipped to provide it.

Dr Hub mentioned last Thursday's Georgetown News Graphic (GNG) editorial when he spoke after signing his contract today. We draw your attention to GNG publisher Mike Scogin's commentary on page 4 of Saturday's current edition (4-30-16). This commentary, an uncharacteristic one indeed, draws attention to Scott County School's very poor Niche school rankings within the state of KY.  Scott's poor performance is not new to this respected ranking agency of schools nationwide and we have referenced them repeatedly. What is new is Scogin finally acknowledging the poor rankings. We must ask "why finally acknowledge this now, Mr. Scogin, after years of covering for our district's poor performance? Why at this particular moment?" We think we know and will explore this further in a future post.

But for now we again welcome Superintendent Dr. Kevin Hub. Godspeed good sir!!!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

15 MINUTES OF FAME

Junior School Resource Officer (JSRO) Ben Martin got his 15 minutes. His problem is, he chose the wrong individual to expense for those 15 minutes. Or, that is, he let Patricia Putty chose the wrong individual for him. Ask the JSRO two years from now if the 15 minutes were worth it.

Everyone except the Georgetown News Graphic (GNG) knows the only reason that Scott County School's Superintendent Patricia Putty called in the police for an incident that is otherwise routinely dealt with internally by the school district, is that school bus driver Durbin Wallace was one of 28 drivers who signed a grievance against Putty's Artistic Director of Transportation in Absentia Roy Prince, and that for the Director's discussion and drawing of a penis at a mandatory meeting of drivers in March of 2014. With the full faith of Central Office behind him, Officer Martin jumped at the chance to get his 15 minutes.

But Durbin Wallace did not fold. When the Scott County Attorney expected him to jump on a reduced charge that only required he quietly plead guilty of that reduced charge, Mr. Wallace politely said no. After months of Mr. Wallace standing up to the local County Attorney's office and such offers, it was the Scott County Attorney's Office that folded. In what can only be characterized as an act of cowardice, the Scott County Attorney laid the case off on the Bourbon County Attorney. WHAT??  The Bourbon County Attorney was no more effective at intimidating a plea from Wallace. And as a result of what the Scott County Attorney laid off on them, the Bourbon County Attorney was forced by Wallace to go to trial and face a jury. And justice was served. NOT GUILTY!!!

Boy- oh- boy was JSRO Martin in his element flitting about the courtroom at the bequest of the Bourbon County boys. Instead of yet another boring day in his office at the Ninth Grade School, he was finally part of something big. He was going to please his Superintendent and take down this big bad school bus driver! Chills! Worse, his Chief allowed this charade. This episode erodes the citizens faith in not only the County Attorney's office, but the Georgetown Police Department.

And then there is the GNG report. Wow! Compare Scogin's rag's report of the trial proceedings with the Greg Kocher report in the Lexington Herald Leader. If you were harboring any doubt that Scogin is a lackey for the powers in this community, those doubts should quickly disappear. The GNG failed to mention JSRO Martin's "not recalling" his recantation in his original charge that Mr. Wallace grabbed the first grader "around the neck". The video clearly showed that not to be true. Martin left the "around the neck" charge in the arrest warrant anyway, but Mr. Wallace was able to produce a witness who overheard Martin's recantation. Then JSRO Martin "couldn't recall". Talk about a "cop out"! (no pun intended)

But more obvious of the GNG carrying water is the article's account stating the jury deliberated for 90 minutes. THE JURY DELIBERATED FOR AT MOST 15 MINUTES. The deliberation exaggeration was clearly intended to lend the perception that there was some jury members who had to be convinced Mr. Wallace was not guilty of harassing a first grader on his school bus. NOT SO! The jury went out at 4:00pm, returned to the court room a few minutes later to review the 15 minute bus video of the incident, went back out and returned with their not guilty verdict at 4:30pm. All they could find Mr. Wallace guilty of was running an orderly school bus. As trained by Putty's own people.

The only individual in this case guilty of harassment is Putty. Recall when she leaked the news of the incident, instead of reserving comment on the grounds the incident was under police investigation, she publicly and loudly lambasted Mr. Wallace, stating she was SICKENED and APPALLED at Mr. Wallace's conduct. And now, the JSRO, his police department, and the County Attorney's Office are guilty of aiding and abetting Putty.

Shame on all of you!




Saturday, February 6, 2016

STAND DOWN SCOTT UNITED.....

....you've had your Superintendents. The current one came with the cooperation of the Kentucky School Boards Association (KSBA).

                                             Installment #2    Feb 12

Scott County United, or Scott United's 501(c)(6) IRS tax exempt status claims the group's program service is to promote "Economic Development and Coordinate Private and Public Efforts To Stimulate Economic Growth". That sounds plenty high minded, but what explains a non-profit with such a haughty purpose having zero web presence? Hmmm? Non-profits are tax exempt under the presumption they are agents of good. So why, do tell, in the year 2016, would an agent of good not have a website to promote the good they wish to do? What explains a stealth non-profit?

Recall our February 22, 2015 post asking the question "Who is the Scott Education and Community Foundation?". We asked that after this separate non-profit went silent, having no 501(c)(3) 990 tax return recorded on guidestar.com since the year 2010, then sprang to life 5 years later last January to sponsor a $1,300 billboard promoting Scott County Schools. How expending funds to promote the local school district aligned with the Foundation's tax exempt program service to promote the Yuko-En, KY-Japan Friendship Garden is beyond us and frankly quite a stretch, particularly considering the organization's ending fund balance of $387,403 was last reported for the tax year 2010. Where did the $387,403 go and where did the $1300 come from?

What does one non-profit have to do with the other, besides a special interest in the Scott County School District? A similar cast of characters, that's what. One John P. Cooper in particular.

                                                 Installment #3     Feb 19

If you don't know the most influential man in Scott County, you might count your blessings. But rest assured each and every connected individual here does, regardless of John P.'s stealthiness. John Cooper founded and is managing partner of Capital Links Consultants, a Frankfort lobbying firm and owns and runs John P. Cooper and Associates from his Quail Run Circle home here in Georgetown. And he peddles his influence on almost every going on of any importance in Scott County.

It was John Cooper that Scott School's Superintendent Patricia Putty appointed as Chairman of the school district's 2010 iteration of its Local Planning Committee (LPC). Mr. Cooper promptly executed Mrs. Putty's plan to remove a second high school as the district's #1 priority on its District Facility Plan (DFP) and replace it with Lemons Mill Elementary. Why do the dirty deed? Most likely a "tit for tat" arrangement for Mrs. Putty's vote on the local Tax Increment Financing (TIF) board on which he had her appointed. Her vote would help secure TIF financing of the I75 interchange to be constructed out by Toyota that would allow Mr. Cooper's client to develop a regional shopping center there. Maybe that arrangement would have more appropriately been called a "tit for tif". Whatever, it was certainly a tit for something.


Turns out Mr. Cooper is a principal on both Scott County United (Vice-President) and the Scott Education and Community Foundation (President), whose other principals include Patricia Putty as a Director.


What's most curious about Scott United, whose other principals and members include the Chamber of Commerce's Jack Conner, local insurance man and appraiser Mike Hockensmith and Toyota's Kim Menke, is that of the approximate $70,000 the non-profit expends each year, about $55,000 is recorded on its tax form as a "management fee".  Hmmm?  Almost 80% of its revenue is spent managing itself. Now there's a non-profit doing some kind of good indeed. Good for itself! But what else does Scott United involve itself in? 


                                                      Installment #4  February 23

Tonight our School Board receives 5 recommendations from the Superintendent Selection Committee, an effort facilitated by the KY School Boards Association. The 5 applicants are those the committee thinks warrants the Board's consideration, winnowed from a pool of 21. We won't be privy to who those 5 applicants are, but the 5 presented will be the Board's first indication whether outside influence got to the Committee. 

While we have been calling for Scott United to stand down, we have also been calling for certain other individuals to STAND UP.  By these individuals not standing up and rebuking influence attempts publicly during this period leaves open a charge of taint. 

These individual's silence will be something they will have to live with regardless of the final selection of a Superintendent, and it won't be until that final selection that will we know whether outside influence was effective. Our hope is the Board's final selection will ultimately make moot the taint so we can all move forward with cleansing our school district. 

We will come back to this as we wait, but let's in the meantime revisit in our next installment what happened in 2008, when our school district last sought a new Superintendent with the help of the KY School Boards Association.


                                                  Installment #5   February 26

This week-end your School Board attends the 80th annual Kentucky School Boards Association gala at the Galt House in Louisville. And they do so on your dime.

And that's ok. KSBA will provide valuable training. But KSBA will also provide an agenda. As long as our Board absorbs KSBA's training through an agenda filter, they may well bring some good info home. It is a shame though that this "conference" is only a thinly veiled facade to bring those in command of a community's school district coffers together with those with their eyes on those coffers. KSBA promotes this week-end's event stating "nearly 1000 board members, superintendents, exhibitors and speakers" will show for the shindig. Yes, there will be the requisite training sessions and such, but the real goings on will be in the private suites upstairs, hosted by everyone from janitorial suppliers to architects. Stay downstairs Scott Board!!! School business is big business folks, and much of it occurs at this annual event sponsored by the KSBA. 

Ah...the Kentucky School Boards Association. It would be easy to confuse this quasi-governmental organization with an actual government agency, but it is what its name states - an "association". No School Board is required to participate and spend their taxpayer's money to do so. Mostly it is an association of like minded ex-school district administrators and school board members whose main goal (much like the Kentucky Department of Education's, an actual government agency), is to perpetuate a system that provides them all a very comfortable living. To that end their goal is to keep the ugly as quiet as possible, keep the "right" individuals in influential positions (such as local Superintendents), maintain the status quo, and by so doing, keep the money flowing. What do you bet that every KY school district crying about recently proposed state budget cuts belongs to KSBA?

The KSBA provides many services to paid member school districts such as Scott County Schools, and even provides the KDE with some contract work. One of those services is to "facilitate" a local school district's search for a new Superintendent.

We can't remember if the KSBA assisted the Scott County School Board when it hired Dallas Blankenship in the early 1990's, but suspect they did. That School Board's Chairman, Ron Wilhite,  was a big-wig at Kentucky Utilities at the time, promoting their energy programs. It came as no surprise back then to those paying attention that Superintendent Blankenship would soon create a new position and hire his daughter's father in law to fill it and then use the School District to promote KU's energy programs. And now Ron, retired from KU, finds himself on KSBA's payroll as their "Energy Grant Project Director".  Funny how these things work out, huh? And funny how Scott County Schools will be awarded yet another energy award soon in Washingon, D.C.

It's understandable that most taxpayers, what with their busy lives and all, pay little attention to school district affairs. It is after all "the school district", that wholesome "all about the kids" agency that only has the best interest of the children at heart. While that may be true for the rank and file teachers and employees of a district, keep in mind that your local school district administrators and Scott School Board command an annual budget the size of your city and county government combined ($58,000,000) and a construction bonding capacity of an additional $100 million.

Those kind of numbers place a big target on a school district, particularly one with as complacent a school board as Scott County had during the entire tenure of the Board Chair who replaced Mr. Wilhite, Becky Sams. "But not to worry" thinks the average citizen, "should anything really be up, our local newspaper will let us know".  Yeah, right. The goings on all these years at the administrative and Board level at Scott County Schools could not have occurred without our newspaper's silence.

Recall the 2008 KSBA "facilitated" Superintendent search process in Scott County. That search produced 26 viable candidates who all completed the extensive application process and presented their applications to the Board before the Board's imposed "deadline". The KSBA "facilitated" Superintendent Screening Committee winnowed those 26 down to a worthy 5 to present to the School Board (some with PHd's and Superintendent experience) just as occurred last Tuesday for the current search.

It has yet to be explained, and certainly not reported by the Georgetown News Graphic, what happened next back in 2008. After failing to name a Superintendent by its own imposed deadline, and after the school year had completed in 2008, School Board Chair Becky Sams introduced Mrs. Patricia Putty as Scott County School's new Superintendent at a June 2008 School Board meeting. Georgetown News Graphic publisher Mike Scogin gushed in his editorials about what an excellent pick the Board had made. Never did he tell this dirty little secret.

Mrs. Patricia Putty did NOT submit an application to be Superintendent at Scott County Schools, unlike the 26 who did and who met the deadline to do so. No, rather Becky Sams installed Patricia Putty, who turned out to be the KSBA's search facilitator Mike Oder's colleague from when he was Superintendent at Woodford County Schools. How about that? We hired the buddy of the guy we hired to conduct a search process, the buddy whose name never came up in that search process! Just as Becky Sams doubled down on her disasterious mistake by extending Patricia Putty's contract for 4 more years in 2012, (and soon to follow, a 15% raise)  the KSBA retains Mr. Oder's services to this day. But they aren't stupid. They didn't dare send Mr. Oder back to facilitate Scott's search this time.

But now there is reason to believe there have been attempts to influence KSBA's current facilitator and his screening committee, and that they both chose to keep quiet about it. And this week-end they all wine and dine in Louisville at the KSBA'a annual gala. Convenient that we armed our Board members with the names presented by the selection committee just in time for the KSBA gala. We bet that not only will Ron be in attendance, but that he will be seen chatting up Scott United's John Cooper. It's so comforting to know that "it's all about the kids".


                                             Final Installment   March 7

And in walked Scott United's emissary - Kim Menke. And before you could say boo, he was sidled up by Patricia Putty.

Only time will tell if Kim Menke and his Scott United have their man in Scott County School's Superintendent-Elect Dr. Kevin Hub. We simply can't know, but odds are (if no fix is in) Dr. Hub heard from Toyota's Kim boy before bedtime tonight. You see, tonight the Scott County Board announced they were entering into contract negotiations with Dr. Hub, with an official public vote to come soon.

Scott United has attempted inappropriate contact with those engaged in the search for a new Scott Schools Superintendent throughout the search process. And Scott United knew their attempts were inappropriate. They cared not that their contact could easily have compromised the process and even those contacted. They simply didn't care. And it is that demonstrated desperation that gives us hope that Scott United neither had a plant to survive the Search Committee's due diligence or that they were able to learn who did survive. Hence Kim boy's presence at tonight's announcement. But again, only time will tell.

In the meantime, we want to give benefit of doubt and celebrate tonight's announcement. It has been an exhausting process and an exhausting wait, and we appreciate the Board not dilly-dallying with the announcement. Let's all cross our fingers that the contract negotiations go well.

We also want to applaud what appears an excellent effort from the Superintendent Selection Committee. The accolades bestowed on this hard working group of six from their KSBA facilitator and from Board Chair Haley Conway seem validated in what the Board described as 4 excellent candidates from which they could make their choice. 

Good luck and godspeed Dr. Hub. You've got your work cut out for you. No one expects that you can avoid the influence attempts from our community's string pullers, but the community will delight if you are in fact the "real deal" and you focus on what's best for the school district, its students, and employees. If that is truly where your heart is, prepare it for the next four months of what are sure to be "the wrath of Patricia Putty".  And her buddies, like Kim tonight?  Don't be surprised if they attempt to upset this apple cart.

STAND DOWN SCOTT UNITED. We are watching your actions, your tax returns, and those pesky "management fees". 


    

Friday, January 29, 2016

WHEN COMMON SENSE MEETS ACADEMIA...

...it gets ugly. But then, we said it would get worse before it could get better.

We don't know which astounds us most - that she suggested it, or that she took credit for the original proposal. But nothing, nothing should surprise us that comes from Patricia Putty's mouth. And of course, this most newsworthy event at Thursday's meeting of the Scott County School Board will go unreported in the Georgetown News Graphic.

At a meeting intended to calmly re-engage the previously contentious second high school construction process, the conversation began on egg shells. Recall that only three of our five school board members could see the wool being pulled over their eyes at last September's meetings to approve a rigged site preparation package (please see our post below - "The Sword of Damocles"). Those other two still don't get it, both still anxious to write that check. But worse is that they can't get this simple common sense notion - that because of 25 years of similar blindness, Scott County Schools is financially strapped and needs to save where it can SO OUR COMMUNITY WON'T SUFFER THE EMBARRASSMENT OF OPENING A NEW HIGH SCHOOL THAT THE FIRST THING VISITORS SEE WHEN ENTERING THE BUILDING IS AN UNFINISHED SPACE WITH BARE BLOCK WALLS AND A GRAVEL FLOOR WHERE THE LIBRARY IS SUPPOSED TO BE!!!!!! Whew!

Academia can't handle common sense, no matter how gently you expose it. Before anyone knew it, Jo Anna Fryman was going off on the author of common sense, Kevin Kidwell. This common sense guy was the one who exposed the September scheme and saved us who knows how much. Now he is the proponent of having a finished library in our new high school even if it means 12 foot wide hallways instead of 16 foot. And it got so ugly, Board Chair Haley Conway wisely called for a break, only to return to the ugliest moment of the meeting - courtesy of the lame duck superintendent, Patricia Putty.

There's plenty of ugly to pass around here though. Out in the hallway during the break, Scott County High School Partial Principal Joe Pat Covington shamelessly began lobbying Board members to reconsider his proposal to build a new 9th grade school instead of a second high school. We all know why.

When the meeting reconvened, the first words spoken came from Patricia Putty, asking the Board to reconsider HER proposal of building a 9th Grade School instead of a second high school. This woman knows no shame, hanging around to derail the second high school once again. It all helps explain why Mrs. Putty bitterly clings where she is not wanted. She continues to carry the string pullers torch and is desperate to stay in their good graces. Too late for that, BUT IT WASN'T HER PROPOSAL BACK THEN!!! IT WAS MR. COVINGTON'S!!! Before that, it was ours. Such is the boldness of a narcissist. July 1 can not come soon enough!

Nor does the Georgetown News Graphic know shame. You won't read these details in its sanitized account of the meeting. The library, that is - the lack of a library (not in the plans formulated before common sense was seated on this new Board) is easily the most compelling issue with the new high school, but the News Graphic dutifully continues to hide this detail from the public.

What the Scott County School Board needs is 5 members, all with common sense. That opportunity comes in November. Without a change, Garth Elementary may soon be on the chopping block, requiring yet another new elementary school. There's that common sense thing again. Deadline to get on the ballot is August.

Oh - and those string pullers? They've been naughty of late. If those who know don't come forth and share -  we will.

We are after all - "The Sword of Damocles"!    

Friday, December 11, 2015

THE SWORD OF DAMOCLES

                                             EXTRA! EXTRA!      READ ALL ABOUT IT!!! 
On the right hand bottom of page 3 of the November 28 Georgetown News Graphic is what is called a "Special to the News Graphic".  That particular "special" was submitted by former Governor Steve Beshear's office, touting the good his administration did for Scott County over his two terms in office. That's what a "special to the News Graphic" is - sort of a propaganda piece written by someone else and submitted to the Graphic. 
Go back one edition (the Thanksgiving edition) and you will read what is essentially a "special to the News Graphic" as the headline article. But that headline article titled "PUTTY 'Mis-conceptions' led to school delay" - came with a by-line of Dan Adkins.  Maybe Mr. Adkins typed this "article", but it reads as a submission.
This "special", along with the 28th's front page headline REVELATION that "Expected growth threatens SCHS" reveal the desperation of not only Mike Scogin's News Graphic, but also that of those propping up his little enterprise.
This has to be embarrassing for GNG publisher Scogin to be so obvious a lackey, and we would take great delight in his and the string puller's squirming were it not for the damage they have done. Damage to recent, current and future classes of students who will suffer the overcrowding that our own GNG ignored for years.  Why the newspaper's "revelation" of overcrowding at SCHS at this late hour?  There are several reasons, all rooted in their desperation to be building SOMETHING,..... ANYTHING!  (Hello It's Me) -   Apologies to Todd Rundgren.
The years of ignoring the high school overcrowding had nothing to do with the popular theory that a second high school would dilute athletic talent. Those who pushed that sports powerhouse agenda simply provided useful idiot cover for the pullers. The string pullers couldn't care less WHAT is being built, just that SOMETHING is being built. A high school project languished simply because a project of such scope would require a construction-less period of time for bonding potential to grow enough to afford it.  But for money to leak, money must flow. 
It's most likely why the 2010 Local Planning Committee (LPC) reversed the 2006 LPC's priority of building a second high school and replaced it with Lemons Mill Elementary. We had enough bonding for a project such as LME and could start construction immediately. We would have had to idle any construction for a period of time before beginning a project the scope of a high school. It's interesting now to go back and see the members who comprised that 2010 LPC.
Remember that local school districts control two pots of money, the tax generated "General Fund" and the tax financed "Construction Fund". The general fund is where Scott County Schools wastes money (over $5 million annually in salary excesses alone). The construction fund is where money can leak and where ANY construction delay - can delay leaks. 
By and large, construction projects are funded by the school district selling bonds, and there is a limit to how many bonds that can be issued. That limit is referred to as "bonding capacity". Although not quite this simple, think of bonding as getting an equity loan secured by the equity in your home. The bonding capacity is a complicated formula that calculates how much bonding debt the school district's revenue stream can meet the payments for. For Scott County Schools, the capacity is $100 million, an attractive pot indeed, and a pot not watched (as it hasn't been for 20 plus years), attracts attention.  
The bonding "potential" is the difference between that calculated capacity and how much is already owed. Scott's perennial low potential is the result of Scott's addiction to keeping a construction project under way. Ogoing projects have never allowed a period of time to pay down the debt so the bonding potential could grow enough to build a second high school. Scott's LPC District Facility Plan manipulations thareplaced a second high school and allowed recent quick "fixes" such as Elkhorn Crossing School, Lemons Mill Elementary School and the Ninth Grade Cafeteria Expansion project all exhausted the bonding potential available at the time of the project. With the public awakened by schstoobig to the desperate need of a second high school, and no bonding to build it, your just previous School Board attempted to provide an "intravenous fix" in the form of a 27% tax increase. The tough love taxpayers denied that fix. Now, a quick fix comes from the Superintendent in the form of a"phased" construction high school. Phased construction will once again keep the potential exhausted, but will at least keep the money flowing. Addicts don't think beyond the next fix. 
We don't disagree with phased construction, it's the only option the free spenders have left us. But consider that the Superintendent most responsible for keeping the potential exhausted (and hence, no second high school is now working tirelessly to build (or start to build!) a second high school when she should be coasting toward non-renewal. Consider her surprise announcement of this current plan just two months after not mustering the resolve to place the 27% tax increase on a ballot. This rush to build in April of 2014 was necessary to secure Roger Ward and Becky Sams' votes to approve the aptly named Alliance Corporation as construction manager before Ward and Sams' assured losses in the elections coming in November. And it worked. That is, it worked until the recent vote to not accept the site excavation low bid cut off the flow. And suddenly the GNG notices the overcrowding at SCHS? Hmmm. 
But the GNG's turnabout has several secondary benefits.
First is its attempt at revising history. If the GNG can place the blame on current School Board Vice Chair Kevin Kidwell for delaying the construction of GCHS, then maybe everyone will forget the truth that Becky Sams and Roger Ward refused to even plan for a second high school for their entire tenures on the Scott County School Board. To place that blame though, required the GNG to do what it does best - not tell the "whole" story.
Thanksgiving's "Special to the News Graphic" submission never mentions Agenda item 10 from the September 3, 2015 meeting. That's because the submission never even mentions the September 3rd meeting at all. And that's because the submission wants readers to believe it was the Board's action to table the approval of the site prep package at the September 10th meeting as where this delay of breaking ground for GCHS began. 
Video beginning at minute 35 from the September 3rd meeting reveals a ten minute discussion, rich with detail, concerning approving the site preparation package at that very meeting. The Board was prepared to approve, but it was Scott School's Director of Facilities Mike Luscher that asked the Board to NOT TAKE ACTION! The GNG submission dare not recount this first meeting. It's fascinating that the official and legal record of that meeting - the meeting minutes - simply records the 10 minute discussion as "Bids were discussed but no action taken".  Here's what was discussed.
Mr. Luscher came before the Board concerned that since the site preparation low bidder, Bischoff Brothers of Bardstown's bid was $300,000 less than the next lowest bidder, maybe Bischoff didn't understand the scope of the project. He wanted an opportunity (no pun intended) to meet with Bischoff before accepting their bid in case they needed to raise their bid.  (This is all on video folks. Mr. Luscher didn't offer to meet with the higher bidders to see if maybe they had overestimated the scope of the project, now did he? Please think about this and connect your own dots!  
It was at the September 10th meeting where School Board Vice Chair Kevin Kidwell, apparently having had his curiosity piqued from Mr. Luscher's curious request from the 3rd's meeting, questioned what he had discovered in the interim. Seems Mr. Kidwell had discovered that the excavation plans provided to bidders were different from the plans the Board approved. Not much different the "submission" implies, just a "retaining wall".  Uh - how about a half million dollar retaining wall???  And Kidwell questioned why the low bidder seemed to have not requested a bid package before making its bid. Both reasonable questions indeed. And certainly cause enough for a vote to table. But that tabled vote would not have occurred had Director of Facilities Mike Luscher not risked his assured "yes" vote at the September 3rd meeting. Had he not, a check to Bischoff Bros. for $1,600,000 would have been written, excavation would be occurring as you read this and GCHS would be opening in the summer of 2017. Yes, for the GNG to mention any of this would not allow them to paint Mr. Kidwell and the Board as the culprits in the delay of GCHS.  Selective memory and selective reporting indeed.  BUT IT'S ALL ON VIDEO!!!  Yet no mention in the GNG of this critical meeting or these critical details.  
Another benefit of the GNG's revelation is diversionary. It diverts attention from the missing $18 million of bonding projections we detail in the post below this, titled "Connect The Dots" and distracts from the shenanigans going on at the district level.  Any other local newspaper would salivate to report these shenanigans, but not the GNG. We will let you connect these dots. 
Much like an addict needing a fix, this stalling of the Great Crossing High School (GCHS) construction project has the string pullers in a cold sweat. The two editions of the Georgetown News Graphic make it desperately obvious. They are sweating bullets indeed. Just read the articles! They're a hoot! Watch the videos. They are on the district's website. And join us in asking why the School Board is being painted as the culprits. Desperation indeed.
We want a second high school for the right reasons and for no more than it should cost. That probably means our new Superintendent should write the first check.  Oh - and that other pot of money - the General Fund. We will discuss it and its excesses should another tax increase be proposed.
The "Sword of Damocles" reference comes from the November 28th GNG revelation that SCHS is overcrowded. schstoobig IS the Sword of Damocles and we hang by a single thread over the string pullers and the GNG.  
Stay tuned - the thread is about to give. And in that, we do take delight!






Saturday, November 7, 2015

CONNECT THE DOTS

We did a little research.  It wasn't difficult, but It is a little tough presenting it.  Keeping the dates straight is critical and please pay close attention to the numbers.  Something is very wrong in our school district.  Please help us connect the dots. 

At the October 22, 2015 Scott School Board meeting, a 3 -2 vote to not approve the Great Crossing High School site preparation package delayed the opening of the school until August, 2018.  With the furor from that vote still hanging thick in the air at this past Thursday's meeting (11-5-15), came this announcement, completely unrelated to the vote. Out of the clear blue the Board and every one in attendance learned from Superintendent Patricia Putty that financial circumstances have pushed the completion of the third phase of the complex until 2025! Wow!  That's a far cry from the announcement just about a year ago that the school would not only open for the 2017 school year, but that it would include a gymnasium and a media center in that Phase I opening, with all phases being complete by 2019.  But sometime after that, something changed. And it was kept good and quiet, apparently hoping for a site package approval that would start the money flowing before anyone was the wiser.   

But now, according to Superintendent Patricia Putty, the school won't be complete until 2025.  Are you kidding? How could such a mis-calculation occur over such a short period of time?  To answer that, we did a little research.  Actually we just paid attention, remembered a few things, and then went back and verified what we remembered. So should each and every Board member. Things had obviously gone south for GCHS long before last Thursday's meeting.  It was after all, Patricia Putty's plan. How much before and how far south is yet to be discovered, but trust us - the failed site prep vote, whatever its rationale, is now looking like a godsend. 

Saturday's Georgetown News Graphic account of Thursday's meeting would lead you to believe that Board Vice-Chair Kevin Kidwell's October 22, 2015 vote against approving the site prep package was due to his cost concerns for the project.  Recall Jennifer Holbert's "seething" at that meeting and reminding Mr. Kidwell of his previous votes to proceed with the project.  She is right.  But while we are sure Mr. Kidwell WAS concerned of the project's costs during each of those votes, we noticed a heightened concern from him soon after the July 16, 2015 meeting.  Help us connect these dots. 

Even though not yet seated on the Board at the November 6, 2014 meeting, Mr Kidwell was in the audience. He's right there in the video. And he was taking notes when Superintendent Putty announced that all was well, even better than well, with GCHS.  The November 8, 2014 Georgetown News Graphic trumpeted the news from that meeting that the August 2017 opening of Phase I of GCHS would include a gymnasium and a media center (library) after all!  And all thanks to very encouraging bonding (think – borrowing potential) projections. 

More good news – actually GREAT NEWS – came a couple of months later at the January 29, 2015 meeting. That meeting, Mr. Kidwell's second after being seated as Vice-Chair, included up-dated bonding projections for 2016 through 2020. Scott School's Director of Finance Randy Cutright echoed the district's bonding agent's "conservative" projection from the November 6 meeting that $22,075,000 would be available for sale in January, 2016.  But Mr. Cutright went on to project that if that $22 million were sold in January, 2016, and construction began, another $5.9 million would become available for sale just a year later in January, 2017.  And even better, should that $5.9 million not be sold, it would grow to $12 million by January, 2018, and again, if not sold would accumulate to $24 million by January, 2020. To summarize the good news, Scott School's bonding potential would grow an average of $6 million a year for each of the four years from 2017 to 2020. 

The projections were good news indeed!  A total of $48 million would be coming on-line over the course of the three phases of construction for what then promised to be a first rate Great Crossing High School. Finally we (and we suspect Mr. Kidwell) were understanding just how we would afford building GCHS.  And remember, these projections were from just ten months ago.  

But here is a little detail that could no longer be repressed, a little detail that most missed last Thursday evening and is responsible for Mrs. Putty's revelation that the GCHS project will not see completion now until 2025.  In the midst of all the planned obfuscation, Randy Cutright quietly mentioned that current projections show the district's bonding potential for January, 2017 will only be $1,355,000. THAT'S ONE MILLION, THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS, a full FOUR MILLION, FIVE HUNDRED AND FORTY FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS ($4,545,000)  less than projected just ten month's earlier.   

But we think it's even worse.  We think Mr. Cutright knew this new lower number much earlier than last Thursday's meeting, possibly at least as early as July, about the time of Mr. Kidwell's "heightened "cost concerns, and just six months after the glowing $24 million in four years projection.  And if those same four years are now just going to average the same $1,355,000 each year – that will total to be $18,580,000 less than that projected just six months earlier. EIGHTEEN MILLION, FIVE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY THOUSAND DOLLARS DISAPPEARING FROM A PROJECTION MADE JUST SIX MONTHS EARLIER!!  Yes, these are PROJECTIONS, but how can the Board commit to building ANYTHING with as unreliable projections as these!!  

Remember we said earlier that we noticed a "heightened " concern about project costs coming from Mr. Kidwell sometime around July, 2015?  At the July 16, 2015 meeting, Mr. Kidwell specifically requested that Mr. Cutright get back with him as soon as possible with an updated bonding projection for January, 2017.  We can't know, but we suspect that was when Mr. Kidwell first learned of the $1,355,000 number. That certainly would explain his "heightened" state of concern, and explains for us better than any pretense why Mr. Kidwell would have voted to not approve the site preparation package that would have started the money flowing with an up front cash payment of $1.6 million to an unknown to Scott County excavation company. 

Ms. Holbert may be "seething" but we are thanking our lucky stars that we now have some Board members paying attention and not afraid to vote for the taxpayers.   

But those same taxpayers deserve to know what could possibly explain an $18,580,000 projection error. How dare any Board member even mention tax increase in light of this!  We will address this tax increase notion in a future post, but for now it's past time the School Board contract with an independent forensic accountant. It’s the only chance we will ever discover why Scott County Schools ( a KDE designated "robust" school district) can't build a high school while even the poorest of KY school districts can. And don't buy that tired old "they have higher tax rates than Scott".  Any one of those districts would trade their "higher" tax rates for Scott County's broad and vibrant tax base on any day.  But the question at hand is this -  how can our Board make a decision to build even an out-house with projections as volatile as these – much less a high school? 

Come on folks!!!   HELP US CONNECT THE DOTS!!!   DEMAND ANSWERS!!!