“We’re seeing far too many cases where adults are making choices that are right for them rather than what’s really right for students and their future. The focus needs to be on supporting what happens in the classroom.” – KY Education Commissioner Terry Holliday
“School Boards are to be watch dogs, not lap dogs.” – State Auditor Adam Edelan
And those at the very top aren’t even on the salary list. But they allow 84% of Scott County’s $54 million dollar operating budget to be spent on salaries, leaving a mere 16% for inconsequentials - such as textbooks, heat, and the like. Those at the top are our elected School Board members and at the very top – the Board Chairman. And the Board Chairman controls the agenda.
Current Scott County School Board Chairman Roger Ward joined the School Board as an appointment from the State to replace the resignation of Randy Mayo in 2008 and ran unopposed in 2010 for his current term. He was “elected” Board Chair in what can generously be called a “curious” vote at the first meeting with two newly elected Board Members in January, 2013.
Roger Ward did not create the overcrowded Scott County High School – that occurred over the 20 years of Chairwoman Rebecca Sams’ reign. But Roger Ward’s signature rests on the now famous “letter of lies”, the letter the Board produced to defend their choice to rob the monies dedicated to build a second high school. Instead they built another elementary school. All but Board Member Haley Conway signed that letter on January 10, 2012.
And as if to continue the legacy of Mrs. Sams, Roger Ward set about his Chairmanship resisting a second high school. Not until continued community pressure, along with two new sympathetic Board Members joining Haley Conway, did Roger capitulate - a’la Romm Emanuel (“never let a good crisis go to waste”). If the community insisted on a second high school – the community would pay.
And hence, the Roger Ward 27% tax increase. Does it strike anyone as curious that after claiming the district could not afford to build a second high school without the 27%, then passing the 27% only to face a public recall, not only would Roger Ward not allow the tax to be placed before the voters, but overnight discovered he could indeed build a second high school with NO ADDITIONAL TAX MONEY! What was Roger Ward up to as School Board Chairman? Extorting the taxpayer? How could he overnight afford the second high school?
Roger Ward was also around for the Superintendent’s 2012 15% raise, a $19,740 raise making the Scott County Schools Superintendent the 14th highest paid in the state! What was it the Commissioner of Education said? “We’re seeing far too many cases where adults are making choices that are right for them rather than what’s really right for students and their future.” Yes we are. Far too many.
But most telling was Roger Ward’s refusal to place School Board Member voting district re-districting on the agenda for a Board vote. Only a decree from a special called meeting of the State Board of Education made it happen. Ask yourself – why would a public servant making $70 dollars a meeting goes to such lengths to protect turf? $70 dollar turf? Huh? Maybe if no one else were willing to do the work, you could explain it as high-mindedness, but Roger attempted to quell interest by keeping the vote off the agenda. Take a minute here if needed.
Roger Ward is up for re-election on November 4th. Who can know how the voters will vote. The only thing for sure is that if Roger Ward is re-elected – NOTHING CHANGES!
Next up – Superintendent.