Saturday, August 8, 2015

APROPOS

                                                           
                                                       

Just days after the start of school, State Auditor Adam Edelan's August 8th press release announced his office's 75 recommendations for school boards.  The press release states that these recommendations, titled "Recommendations To Improve Efficiency and Accountability in KY School Districts", are the result of the examinations of 21 KY school districts since 2012. Edelan, a resident of Scott County, has been asked by community members to audit Scott Schools but has resisted.  However, his recommendations, and particularly this little gem from the press release -  The report also calls for boards to establish processes for district employees to submit concerns to the board about questionable activities, including the actions of the superintendent. “No person should be at risk of losing his or her job for reporting a supervisors’ indiscretion. In each district there needs to be a clear policy in place that allows staff members to report their concerns,” Edelen said,  seem aimed directly at the Scott County School Board!  No point in our Board instituting this recommendation though unless it musters the resolve to deal with what it discovers.  Seems sometimes our Board prefers being blissfully ignorant. 

Here are tidbits from the Auditor's recommendations with our red emphasis and our comments italicized: 

7. The Board should adopt a comprehensive policy to address nepotism involving the employment and supervision of relatives in compliance with KRS 160.380. For instances in which the employment of relatives is allowed, this policy should address the supervision and other aspects of a relative’s employment to prevent the appearance of a conflict. For example, the policy should contain a provision that prevents an employee from directly supervising or performing evaluations of a family member.  Hmmm, sound familiar Scott Board?  Check out the positions and the last names on your own website's Transportation page! 

14. The Board should ensure employment contracts, including the Superintendent’s, are written and signed prior to the contract’s effective date   Lets see Scott Board.  Didn't your school bus drivers just drive our children the first three days of school (and plenty this summer) without a contract?  First time in history by the way, and all under the leadership of Artistic Director of Transportation, Roy Prince. 

31 …..the district should place decals on all vehicles identifying them as district property.  And this simple action should not take seven months to accomplish! 

38. We recommend the district Superintendent or designee review the documented position descriptions for district personnel to ensure they are appropriate and reflect the employee’s actual job duties and responsibilities.  Best you do this yourself Board, just as you discussed but failed to do this summer! 

41. We recommend district management evaluate whether candidates are eligible, based on all applicable criteria, for posted employment positions prior to selecting candidates for interview or further consideration. This process will prevent the inappropriate pursuit of an ineligible candidate   WOW!  Sounds like common sense, huh Board?  And how about posting ALL those positions before filling them? 

52. District management should provide an annual report to the Board of all vendor contract renewals and extensions. And the Superintendent should up to speed on these, huh Board?  

57. District management should prohibit the use of the district’s tools, parts, supplies, and other resources for the maintenance and repair of personal vehicles or other property.  We agree. 

59. District management should ensure updated policies and procedures are maintained in a central location and made available to all district staff. If the policy and procedure documents are published on the district’s website, district management should ensure only the most current versions of the documents are available. Training should be provided to staff, as needed, to ensure compliance with established policies.  

And 67 other recommendations just as compelling, just not as apropos.  They can be found at auditor.ky.gov.

Stay tuned for our analysis of the Superintendent's Opening Day, uh.....,uh..., speech. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

More like "Summer of Shame"

Please excuse the hiatus but a summer break was indicated. We return to many goings on but what first caught our attention was the July 25, 2015 Georgetown News Graphic article "District's Summer of Change Continues" with a quote from that article published as the July, 28th editions  -  Quote of the day: ‘... they were placed in a situation where they needed to protect themselves and their careers ... they could not afford to have their reputation tarnished by others who have their own personal agendas.’  -  Scott County Schools Superintendent Patricia Putty on the recent departure of central office personnel 

"They" in the quote was referencing several top administrators who through one action or another left the district. "Others" in the quote referred to the members of the Scott County School Board.  The truth neither bears out the quote or the article's intent to smear the School Board. Sounds more like someone is making excuses, and once again the newspaper is accommodating.

The article leads one to believe that each departing administrator left because of tensions with their School Board, and is reinforced when stating "Putty acknowledged the recent departures and new appointments reflect tensions between her top administrators and the Scott County Board of Education." 

Let's see now?  First to leave was Director of Maintenance, Zan Rexroat, via a long ago, pre-announced retirement after nearly 30 years with the district. How can the News Graphic and Superintendent Putty diminish this gentleman's long and distinguished career by claiming he left because of run ins with the Board, when he announced his leaving long before this Board was seated? We never witnessed any problems between Mr. Rexroat and the Board and there is video to prove it. Sounds like someone's trying to stoke up some drama.  

Next to go was Assistant Superintendent for Student Learning, Matt Thompson, who accepted the Superintendent's position at Montgomery County Schools. This sure sounds to us like a step up in this gentleman's career path. Why would the News Graphic and Superintendent Putty marginalize his aspiring to advance?   We say "congratulations Mr. Thompson."  So should they, instead of using his move as fodder to tarnish the Board. 

Mr. Thompson was quick to recruit away from Scott County our Director of Human Resources, Dr.* Rick Culross, we assume to fill a need Mr. Thompson found at Montgomery County.  Now, Dr.*Culross may very well have left to save his skin after two recent incidences of misleading our Board, but that is hardly any fault of the Board. 

And last to leave was Steve Hill, Scott's likable Director of Student Services.  Mr. Hill  left to become Fayette County's Director of Pupil Personnel, a promotion and step up the ladder indeed. Animosity is a word lost on the affable Mr. Hill, and to disparage his departure and advancement as such is despicable. 

That's it. That's who left and why. Certainly, three top administrators leaving any district should be a red flag and should be considered.  But to spin those legitimate departures to disparage a School Board and to punish that same Board for paying attention is not only suspect, it is also pitiful. The newspaper's article and the Superintendent's remarks also give credence to a rumor awaiting our return from vacation, a rumor we will investigate concerning the school district's string pullers making their first bold move since losing their old School Board last November. We understand those string pullers (aka "el CCC") are more United than ever, now that they are being pinched.  STAY TUNED!!!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?

2 + 2 still equals four, right?  Hmmm?  Maybe not at Georgetown College.

At last Thursday's Scott School Board Work Session, the obvious cover up continued regarding the district's curious Transportation Department's staffing numbers.  Only this time the effort was aided and abetted by Board Member JoAnna Fryman.  

Recall  the obfuscation we recounted in our last post that occurred at the June 4 School Board meeting. What we didn't mention was a cat and mouse game Human Resources Director Dr.* Rick Culross played at that meeting with Board members questioning some of the shenanigans being played with Transportation's staffing. He, in cooperation with the Superintendent and Artistic Director of Transportation Roy Prince, led the Board on a wild goose chase regarding whether staffing had increased or not in Transportation.  Since then it appears the Board has sought clarification, and at this past Thursday's work session they compared Transportation administrative staffing levels from the 2011-12 school year (prior to bringing on Roy Prince as Artistic Director of Transportation) with those of the current year ending June 30th.  And after our carefully researching this as well, Mrs. Fryman's statement Thursday evening to Mr. Prince that she "sees it", that is, she sees that staffing did NOT increase  - defies simple addition.  Here are the facts. 

For the duration of the 2011-12 school year, Transportation was operated with 3.5 front office administrative positions. Those positions were a Director (1.0), a Route Supervisor (1.0), an Assistant Route Supervisor (1.0), and a half time Driver Trainer (0.5).  Lets see, hmmm, 1 + 1 + 1 + .5 = 3.5 front office administrative positions. For the same year the bus garage was staffed by a Vehicle Supervisor, 2 full time mechanics (one a son of the Route Supervisor) and a half time mechanic's helper (another son). That also adds to 3.5 positions, for a total of 7.0, Mrs. Fryman. 

Fast forward to this year when in November the Artist's creative juices were flowing full blast. Seems about then Mr. Prince's Route Supervisor was showing signs of being overwhelmed. Little surprise what with Mr. Prince having previously reduced the full time Assistant Route Supervisor to a half time position and he himself either unable or unwilling to assist the Route Supervisor.  The creative fix?  Instead of restoring the Assistant Route Supervisor to full time, Mr. Prince instead moved the Route Supervisor's son out of his mechanic position in the bus garage and into the office to assist his Route Supervisor mother.  Here's where it gets "creative". 

State regulation does not allow a family member in a direct subordinate position to another family member. How to get around this? Allow the son to perform the Assistant Route Supervisor duties but assign him the title of Driver Trainer, a position not directly subordinate to his mother. But wait!  Remember Mr. Prince had replaced the half time Driver Trainer he found here when he arrived, with an out of county crony in a full time Driver Trainer position.  Since the son was named Driver Trainer (although not training any) the actual crony Driver Trainer continued training but was given the title of Assistant Route Supervisor. Wow! Same old playing fast and loose with Transportation positions that have gone on for the duration of the Putty administration, yet Mrs. Fryman "sees it". 

Let's tally the 2014-15 positions. A Director (1.0), a Route Supervisor (1.0), a "new" Assistant Route Supervisor (1.0), an old Assistant Route Supervisor (0.5), a "new" Driver Trainer (1.0), and an old Driver Trainer performing extra curricular trip duties (0.5).  Again with the higher math - 1.0 + 1.0 + 1.0 + 0.5 + 1.0 + 0.5 = GUESS WHAT - 5, 1.5 MORE front office POSITIONS than in 2011-12, MRS. FRYMAN. 

And at the bus garage we maintained the Vehicle Supervisor (1.0), replaced the promoted son with the Lewis County Prince crony with the sexual assault arrest as a mechanic (1.0), the Lewis County Prince crony's son as a mechanic (1.0), and maintained the existing other mechanic (1.0).  Math - 1.0 + 1.0 + 1.0 + 1.0 = 4.  That's 0.5 more than previous and Mr. Prince is asking to hire yet another mechanic to mitigate the $60,000 the district paid these 4 this year in overtime that was not necessary back in 2011-12. 

Grand total of positions this year = 9, 2 more (with one more being requested) this year than before Prince arrived. And remember, the Route Supervisor was not "over-whelmed" back then. 

But Mrs. Fryman had to really strech to deny the bigger revelation that came out Thursday evening. The district paid out $120,000 more in salaries this year than it did for the positions in 2011-12. So Mrs. Fryman - even if you can't do the math on the number of positions, how do you explain the extra 120 large, not to mention the $60,000 in garage overtime this year? And remember, these salary numbers presumably came from your Director of Finance. Are you claiming we spent an extra 120k on the same number of staff???? 

Any wonder we can't get a high school built with a library and gym?  Or that Georgetown College is hanging by a thread?

Monday, June 8, 2015

TRUTH AGENDA

Last Thursday's Scott County School Board meeting was all obfuscation.  Obfuscation from administrators, obfuscation from contractors, and now obfuscation from the News Graphic account. With little truth to work with, this new School Board is being set up to fail.  Here's a little inconvenient refresher the obfuscators would rather we forget.  Use it to sort out the agendas Mike Scogin warns about.     

Scott County High School was overcrowded soon after opening in 1996.  A plan was conceived in the early 2000's to build a vocational school in Scott County that would reduce SCHS overcrowding and more importantly, preserve the single high school pool of talent for athletic programs. As a bonus, the district would save money no longer transporting students to attend vocational school in Lexington. Sounded good - right? 

So good that then Superintendent Dallas Blankenship hired Fayette County School's Eastside Vocational School principal Francis O'hara in 2004. That we had no facility for Mr. O'hara to principal mattered little to the free spending Superintendent. The Scott School district paid O'hara a principal's salary for six years before he ever became oneTo his personal credit, Mr. O'hara did not waste his windfall and obtained his doctorate during this free-wheeling period. Dr. O'hara's six years of employment before finally acting as principal in 2010 was a perpetual sad joke around the district.  You never heard mention of it in the News Graphic. 

During those six years though, someone, maybe Dr. O'hara, had the foresight to run the numbers and realize a vocational school would at best only relieve the over-crowded Scott County High School by 100 or so students, probably less.  It was after this realization that the yet to be named school's mission quietly changed from a vocational school to a more "white collar" career and technical school, offering none of the curriculum offered at Fayette's vocational school, but offering the potential to draw more students out of SCHS.  And again, not affect the athletic talent pool. 

But it was a hard sell.  To appease the doubters, the Career and Technical School was sold as and  reflected in the 2006 District Facility Plan as a "Phase I" of a second high school, replete with preliminary plans.  Those plans reflected a two story "Phase II" structure that would take full advantage of the extreme elevation drop that would exist on the north elevation of the phase one Career and Technical School building by tying that phase one building into the second floor of the proposed phase II building.  We maintain a copy of the existing ECS building plans that show "expansion bolts" embedded in the north wall as tie in points for the anticipated Phase II building. 

The Career and Technical School was renamed Elkhorn Crossing School before its opening in 2010 and struggled to attract even 200 FTE students.  Only after schstoobig exposed inaccurate ECS enrollment numbers in a letter signed by all School Board members (except Haley Conway) in early 2012 did the district open ECS to 9th graders to get ECS enrollment numbers up, and only then did the public discover that the District Facility Plan had been quietly changed in 2010 to place another elementary school ahead of helping the high school.  ECS still struggles to attract enough students to fill its classrooms while an absurd 2 million dollars (over $700 per square foot) was spent at SCHS to unnecessarily expand the overcrowded cafeteria there.  AUDIT THAT! 

Soon after current Superintendent Patricia Putty opened ECS in 2010, the state undertook the project to widen US 460 just west of ECS.  The school district was quick to offer the area just north of the ECS building, the same "extreme elevation drop" area, for the state to place as fill the materials from the road widening project.  It was that resultant 20 feet or so of fill depth that Superintendent Putty  referenced as a "terrain change", and used that created terrain change as yet another excuse why the district could not proceed with phase II of a second high school off the northern elevation of ECS.  Shame. 

Now, and only because of new Board member Stephanie Powers' relentless questioning, we discover that this very same fill material will not support a structure built upon it, and as a result must be removed, processed, crushed to a size to make it suitable, and then be replaced as "engineered fill" WAIT!  Didn't the Superintendent claim we couldn't build the original Phase II here because of the "terrain change"? Apparently you can change a "terrain change" after all. And that is not the absurd part! On the video we can hear Mrs. Powers asking how much mitigating this "fill" problem will cost and why not instead consider a different site on the 80 acres. What we do not hear is the quote published in the News Graphic account from construction manager Alliance Corporation's Tim Geegan.  According to the News Graphic, Mr. Geegan claims the fill will actually save the district $500,000 to $1,000,000.  WHAAAAAAT? 

We get the rational that will be put forth.  They will claim it would cost that much to have suitable fill trucked in. BUT HEY GUYS, HOW ABOUT NOT NEEDING THE FILL IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!  Such as building elsewhere on the site as proposed as Mrs. Powers. Or design the building to rest on the original terrain after the fill is removed?  Seems everybody is vested in covering up the truth that history provides.  What is that you said about agendas, Mike Scogin?