Sunday, September 18, 2016

GAMBLE

And how the gamble turns out is not on some future School Board as proposed. No, this sitting Scott County School Board is entirely responsible for the gamble.

We've been critical of new Scott Superintendent Kevin Hub, and reasonably so considering all his vacillations in just 75 days on the job. His latest commitment (revision 4.0 it's being called) that "going forward, a 1500 capacity school is his priority and to do it we need a nickel tax", is a tact clearly designed to coerce a tax increase by inflating the cost of a new high school by doubling the student capacity from that already approved, putting the cost well above our $55 million of bonding sitting at the ready. But this tact can only be accomplished with the support of the current Scott County Board of Education.

Hub claims a vote on a tax increase must be postponed until a new Board is seated come January. That notion is patently false. He makes this claim only because he canceled just such a vote in August after learning it would not pass with this Board. He now wants to further delay this debacle and try his luck for a tax increase with a new Board in January. It is all about the tax for Hub. The vote that deserves taken is whether this Board is willing to proceed NOW with construction of Great Crossing High School (GCHS) with the ample bonding we have. Failing to take an official vote on this is the same as voting against it, kicking this can off to a Board Hub hopes will be more favorable to a tax increase in January. But this isn't the Superintendent's call. The Board Chair decides what is and what isn't voted on by the Board.

With that said, our criticisms must now be directed to those who are elected to conduct the will of their constituency. This is not a future issue. In fact the issue persists only because of previous School Board's abdicating their responsibility to their constituency and instead serving the interests of a special few, a special and United few. The sitting Scott County School Board, in allowing a gamble that minimally continues the delay in solving the gross overcrowding at Scott County High School (SCHS), continues to serve that special interest few.

So, for the moment, enough of Hub. This mis-step, this gamble, lies at the feet of the one charged to set the agenda of the school district, Scott County School Board Chairman Haley Conway.

Notice Mr. Conway has raised no objection to Superintendent Hub's false statement that any decision must rest with a newly seated Board. Whether this inaction arises to the level of malfeasance we are not sure, but we are sure a legacy of not having the courage of his convictions awaits Mr. Conway if he maintains this tact.

Recall that for the first eight years of his serving on the Scott School Board, Mr. Conway was bold, even brash with his calls for a second high school to relieve the overcrowding at Scott County High School (SCHS). He always had an out though, claiming his was only one vote of five. And his voting record for the most part shows just that. But then provided with two new supposedly sympathetic Board members in 2012, Mr. Conway quickly alienated those two, who themselves were quick to discover it was much easier to align with the powers that be (go along to get along) than stand with the convictions of their campaigns.

So two more Board members were provided in 2014, and that is when it got sticky for Mr. Conway. Along with a vote for himself, the new two gave Conway the opportunity to put up or shut up by electing him School Board Chair. Faltering from the start, we allowed Mr. Conway the benefit of doubt. Failing to deal with nepotism in the district's Transportation Department to this day, failing to seek settlement with wronged employees under the Putty administration, failing to show for a meeting in August to vote on the proposed 9% tax increase are just a few of those falters, all issues he as Board Chair could impact. But his allowing, maybe even encouraging this GCHS issue be put off on the 2017 School Board is the last straw. Conway is at risk of squandering his long sought opportunity to build a second high school. He isn't exhibiting the courage of his convictions.

This is not to say that there hasn't been positive accomplishments on Conway's watch. The non-renewal of Superintendent Patricia Putty's contract, the requiring that Board vehicles be identified with signage, the canceling of the contracts of Sherman, Carter, Barnhart and Alliance Corporation are some that come to mind, although each of these were driven by other Board members.

But our biggest disappointment with Conway was his backing away from his assurance that a Conway Chaired Board would NOT approach the taxpayers for a tax increase until his Board and their new Superintendent demonstrated that a new and fiscally responsible day had arrived at Scott County Schools. And a second high school's construction accomplished with the resources available would be first evidence. Instead, even upon the discovery of a suppressed 27 million dollars of bonding potential, Conway is choosing to step aside instead of stepping up.

And by so doing allows a gamble. A gamble that even if won will delay the opening of Great Crossing High School for at least a year. This gamble is predicated on the hope that no one will step forward and do the hard work to FORCE the School Board to allow the community a ballot box vote on its 9% tax increase. That 9% is over and above the 4% increase the Board takes each and every year. It's a gamble because should someone force the 9% on the ballot, AND THEY WILL, defeat is a sure thing. And where will we be then? Right where we are now, with enough bonding to build a school, just a year later! As high-minded as a few loud useful idiots want to appear with their willingness to support the tax increase, the fact is - rarely will a populace VOTE to be taxed. It just doesn't happen. Even Patricia Putty and Roger Ward knew that!

Had Haley Conway had the courage of his convictions, he would have, as Board Chair, acted immediately upon learning of the missing 27 million and moved to break ground on GCHS, the first step in honoring his pledge to demonstrate a new, fiscally responsible School Board.

The Superintendent and all five Board members are in agreement that a second high school is long overdue. With a new architect who has a schematic plan already prepared for an affordable 750 student GCHS expandable to 1500 AND that architect excited to get Scott County's until now locked up business, there is no reason why Conway can't get a footprint plan posthaste, locate an off fill site, and get footers poured before Christmas. Then a January Board can be all about putting a proper building on those footers.

Otherwise we are left with a gamble. A gamble on a new School Board, a gamble on a delaying tax increase, even a gamble that even if eventually we see a "new" high school, we may not see a "second" high school.

In that event, instead of bringing healing to a hurting school district, Conway's legacy will be one that allowed those wounds to fester, all while gambling on the future of a second high school.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

HUCKSTER


All the various excuses put forth by Scott County School's new Superintendent Kevin Hub for an additional 9% tax increase over and above the 4% the Scott County School Board approved at last Thursday's School Board meeting have now distilled down to the very excuse we predicted - we need the tax increase for future PROJECTED facility needs. Scott County High School has been over capacity for at least a decade. The district currently has excess capacity in its elementary schools.

Certainly that will change as the district continues to grow, and again, that's fine. Pass that "nickel tax" (as they call it to make it sound insignificant) and put it before the community when that need arises. But do not continue to hold Great Crossing High School (GCHS), a school that has been approved and a project for which we have ample bonding to complete, hostage to that "nickel"!

What has had us scratching our heads is why Hub has not used another, much more plausible and actually somewhat credible reason for justifying the tax. But it finally hit us. It has to do with a general misconception among the public as to exactly how the complicated process of financing a school building works, and whether Hub would maybe prefer the misconception remain.

You see, most seem to think that a "tax increase" will build GCHS.  NOT SO!  A 9% tax increase (about 3.3 million additional dollars each and every year according to the district's website) will go directly where all tax increases go - into that abyss called the "GENERAL FUND". It's called the "general" fund because all monies in it can be spent on whatever the district desires. Such as pizza. Now, we aren't suggesting General Fund monies can't be spent on construction projects, they can, but this is where part of the misconception lies.

Even if ALL the tax increase revenues were placed in a "restricted fund" within the General fund and restricted only to GCHS construction, it would take many years for the $3.3 million per year to grow enough before it could even begin a project that costs as much as GCHS, much less complete it.

No, the only contribution the tax increase makes toward construction is the impact that the guaranteed annually reoccurring millions the tax generates has on what is called the "bonding potential" (think borrowing potential). We finance construction projects by selling bonds (borrowing), not from tax proceeds. We currently have ample bonding to build GCHS.

Although overly simplistic and not exactly accurate, conceptually think of bonding like you think of equity in your home. If you cash-out refinance or seek a home equity loan, you are basically borrowing against that equity in your home with your home serving as collateral. School bonding needs no physical collateral because, as a governmental sub-division with taxing authority, there is no risk of default on the bond repayment, so buyers are willing to purchase the bonds on that basis alone. What determines the amount of bonds a school district can sell is predicated on its current ability to retire (pay off) those bonds. That current ability is reflected in the size of revenue stream the district has. A tax increase increases a school district's revenue stream and thus its bonding (borrowing) potential, as well as provides annually reoccurring real dollars to be spent on whatever and however the district desires.

This is why it is worth it to Hub to hold GCHS hostage to the tax increase - a tax increase is a double blessing. The millions it generates yearly and forever can be spent (unless restricted) just as inefficiently as much of the General Fund is now spent, such as the $63,439.74 spent at Domino's Pizza this past fiscal year, not to mention the $5 million spent annually over and above what the state recommends we spend on salaries. The double blessing is that not only does the district get to enjoy the tax millions for perpetuity, they get to borrow a bunch more money to boot!  

Why doesn't Hub make this somewhat more plausible argument for a tax increase  - that because the district will have additional daily operating expenses once GCHS is opened, it will require more income to support GCHS? Granted it's only somewhat plausible, because the 4% they take each year should be more than sufficient and certainly those additional expenses will NOT require the amount a 9% tax increase will generate. Plus those expenses won't come on-line until after GCHS opens, which will be years after construction even gets started. But still it could be spun with more credibility than the recently debunked and current reasons they are peddling. Well, it's what we wondered too.

Why do YOU suppose they don't make this argument? We think it's because to do so requires exposing just how doubly well they are served by a tax increase, as we have explained and you now know. But some who claim to know Hub say it is a "my way or the highway" attitude of his and that it doesn't matter to him what effect such an attitude has on our students. We don't know, but are reminded of Hub's comment at a July School Board meeting where he said "I'm not asking the community to agree (with a tax increase) but I am asking the community to not stand in the way". Hmmm?

Oh, and they also didn't want mentioned that the tax increase can be restricted within the General Fund. Heck, they didn't even want you to know it went in to the General Fund. And now you know that too. No, the tax is forever and can't "sunset". But, if their hearts are pure, shouldn't when they come begging for a tax increase to supposedly build a school, shouldn't those tax proceeds forever go into a restricted fund to not only help complete the school they requested it for, but to accumulate for future projects so they don't come back to this tax well time and time again all because they are hanging out at Dominos?

And you still don't know where the $27 million was hiding!     Read "The Agenda" and "Ransom" below.




Saturday, September 3, 2016

THE AGENDA


After Scott County School Board Vice-Chair Kevin Kidwell uncovered site preparation bid procedure irregularities one year ago this month, circumstances were set into motion that eventually led Board Chair Haley Conway to wisely ask that the construction of Great Crossing High School (GCHS) be delayed until then Superintendent Patricia Putty hit the road come June 30, 2016. How funny it is now that after two months on the job, new Superintendent Kevin Hub demands the project be further delayed until a new Board is seated (a Board without Conway) on January 1, 2017. "This Board has lost their opportunity to build a second high school" the Saturday Georgetown News Graphic quotes Hub as saying at this past Thursday's Scott County School Board meeting. NOT SO! The Board has lost no such opportunity! What Hub actually means is that the Board has missed a timeline to get a protested tax increase on the November ballot, NOT THE SAME THING AT ALL!  And according to the Georgetown News Graphic, the "Mad Moms" are lapping it up! How's that for a vicious circle?

At last Thursday's meeting, a meeting that finally had Board members admit that Putty and her administration had repeatedly lied and mis-led the Board, Hub claimed that should the Board restart site preparation, there IS time for a foundation to be in place before a new Board is seated on January 1. The problem, he explained and as reported initially on the Georgetiown News Graphic Website ( but curiously not carried over to the Saturday September 3rd print edition ), was that because the GCHS design plans are "not currently complete" and because there is not time to make them complete before a new Board is seated January 1, that the district could end up with a second high school foundation in place and a newly seated Board  deciding that "they want to go in a different direction". He characterized the two circumstances as "facts". Funny how it is that as each reason to not proceed with GCHS is debunked, a "new" reason appears. Such reveals the desperation we not build this high school without first raising taxes, even though we have ample bonding to do so without the proposed tax increase. And the "Mad Moms" lapped it up!

Well, here's the actual fact, and if Hub isn't aware of it as Superintendent, we may have even bigger problems. The actual fact is no School Board, neither the current one, or the future one, can "go in a different direction" as far as school facilities are concerned. The "direction" for facility construction is decided (according to KY State law) by a duly appointed Local Planning Committee (LPC) and is approved and kept on file at the State as a District Facility Plan (DFP). The 2014 LPC was crystal clear that no construction monies were to be spent on any construction project until a second high school was complete.

Recall that state law requires all KY public school districts convene a Superintendent appointed LPC every four years to assess and prioritize the district's facility needs. And recall that the 2006 LPC placed a second high school as the district's next priority, yet a second high school was not constructed before the required 2010 reconvening of the LPC. Recall then that then Superintendent Patricia Putty appointed a stacked deck LPC comprised mainly of Scott United members and chaired by Scott United's main man, John Cooper. Then recall that Mr. Cooper set about dropping a second high school as top priority and replaced it with Putty's Lemons Mill Elementary, once again EXHAUSTING THE DISTRICT'S BONDING POTENTIAL!!! Somehow however (and just as we had for years and years) we continued to repair and upgrade our facilities with our bonding exhausted. You see, repairs and upgrades (an excuse being used to bolster a weak argument for a tax increase) are intended to be budgeted for out of a fund called Capital Outlay. Bonding is intended for new facility construction!

So, Hub's veiled intimidation that the sitting Board would be foolhardy to put shovels in the ground is just that. Now yes, a newly seated Board could elect to ignore proceeding with construction on that freshly laid and expensive foundation and instead wait for the 2018 LPC to be stacked again against a GCHS. Ain't gonna happen, folks! Doing such would delay any possible construction even beginning for at least an additional two years! Recall the Commissioner of Education's comments two years ago that Scott County Schools were at least two years behind at that time to construct a second high school. The State has been patient with this issue, but be assured they will soon have to intervene. Hub's veiled intimidation simply continues his (or whoever's) intent to hold GCHS hostage to a tax increase, a tax increase that he at the same meeting intimated he would encourage a newly seated Board to reconsider. And further delay a project he has the money to start tomorrow.

And consider Hub's reiteration at the same meeting that a second high school remains his "top priority". Then consider that Hub claims the reason a newly seated Board would be in a position to affect the progress of GCHS is because the current design plans for GCHS are "not currently complete" and that "it will take more time than currently exists between now and December 31 for those plans to be completed".  Hmmm.  Now, it was expressed several times during the meeting that Hub has been on the job for 60 days. That's a full 2 months. It sure seems that if a second high school were his top priority, he would have spent those two months assuring that the "not complete" design plans were in the process of being completed before December 31 instead of putting all his energy into securing a tax increase that ISN'T NEEDED TO CONSTRUCT GCHS!!! Seems to us, as explained in the post below this one titled "RANSOM" that Hub's real top priority is a tax increase.

For all those newly engaged in the second high school debacle, be assured an agenda to avoid constructing a second high school has had influential backing for at least two decades. And we have followed it the entire time, watching the rug pulled from under the second high school time and time again. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Hub's contention of his top priority and his actions simply do not jibe. If you buy his timeline and his desire for a tax increase, it will be 2 years before construction can begin and that only if the tax were to pass a vote. IT WILL NOT!

SCOTT SCHOOL BOARD - THIS IS NOT HUB'S CALL, but will be if you continue to sit on your hands. Authorize the district to (as Hub put it) "put the site prep bids back on the street" NOW, and move the site location off the fill area, saving mega bucks. Make absolutely sure you accomplish this at next Thursday's special called meeting, there simply is no more time to waste. Then you can be all about "completing" the design plans in such a way so as to save even more money, putting our construction costs in line with other KY school districts. Any Board member voting against this will reveal that they are part of THE AGENDA and only want to delay construction. Certainly they would not have the student's best interests at heart. BUILD IT NOW!  BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE!!!

Oh, and did you read in the News Graphic anything about the Board's revelations of Patricia Putty and her administration lying and misleading the Board? Nope! Scogin continues to avoid the past. And Mrs. Fryman, why the righteous indignation now over Putty, as you claim. lying to the Board that any new structure touching ECS would cause the district to lose funding? Remember it was Chip Southworth who first brought that notion before the Board. Your belated contempt would be better directed for an actual explanation of the suppressed $27 million. Notice that the GNG made mention of Hub's non-explanation of the 27 million dollars of bonding. Guess that will serve to get the GNG off that hook, but only digs a deeper hole for Hub. That pitiful non-explanation and where the bonding was hidden should be what Fryman, the rest of the Board, the News Graphic, the Mad Moms and the rest of the community are indignant about!!!

Feel that? That's THE AGENDA pulling the rug from under the second high school again. Only the School Board that has ALREADY APPROVED the construction of GCHS can stop THE AGENDA! But the clock is ticking.





Saturday, August 27, 2016

RANSOM

Great Crossing High School has been named.  It satisfies the Scott County Local Planning Committee's District Facility Plan directive.  It was voted on and passed by the Scott County School Board.  It was approved by the Kentucky Department of Education way back when we only had $15 million of bonding. We now have $55 million in bonding that will continue growing while construction is underway, providing a complete facility with athletic provision. Why aren't we building?

Because GCHS is being held hostage, plain and simple. Held hostage for a greedy ransom of a tax increase, an unneeded tax increase. All which means more and more Scott County 9-12 students will continue to suffer the overcrowded Scott County High School. And all because of the greed of a few.

Tax increases are the stock in trade for KY public school Superintendents. Like Chicago Mayor Rob Emmanuel's admonition to "never waste a crisis", Superintendents just can't miss any opportunity to raise taxes. What else explains new Scott Superintendent Kevin Hub passing on the opportunity of coming to Georgetown as a knight in shining armor by keeping quiet his discovery of the hidden $27 million of bonding, and then satisfying single handed Scott's need to build a second high school. All without a tax increase!  Talk about being a hero! But no, even with plenty of money to do just that, Hub obviously couldn't pass on the best excuse of all to raise taxes - school overcrowding. Never mind that the overcrowding persists and students suffer all the while he goes for the prize.

A tax increase is certainly the prize. Unlike the "surprise" of the one time $27 million, a tax increase is a prize that keeps on giving, to be used however they wish for perpetuity. And that prize is so valuable to so many people that Hub would rather suffer the embarrassment of taking it off the table temporarily rather than see it go down to an assured defeat at the August 18 School Board meeting. We allowed him a mulligan on that one, but now, and with the support of a tax increase's beneficiaries, Hub is out trying to parlay new found community support for building the school NOW into support for his tax increase. If successful, he will also assure at least a further 18 month delay before any construction begins on a building that he has enough money to start tomorrow.

Notice that the Georgetown News Graphic, along with Hub, will not mention the mysterious and sudden appearance of the $27 million that showed up just as Patricia Putty departed. The GNG won't touch this story, a story that any other community's news organization not "in the tank" would be salivating over. But also know, that as we write, a complicated and convoluted excuse to explain the $27 million is being crafted. Why? Because when the Herald Leader gets around to asking this question, the GNG will be left exposed and have to report whatever the powers craft. Just as always.

Expect a complicated mix of reasons for the sudden appearance of the $27 million to include such things as bond refinancing opportunities, increased tax assessments, interest rates, and all sorts of complicated State calculation formulas on reserve for just such occasions. DON'T FALL FOR IT FOLKS! $27 million is a lot of money, even in this state lottery called public education. It doesn't just show up and at the same time the district's bonding agent is fired. Somebody or something is being protected. And nobody - NOBODY - is talking.  YET!  It obviously takes awhile for everyone to get their story straight. Is there not one of integrity and transparency among you?   Hmmm. Turns out, there is. But allow us to sit on that for just a bit.

Also note that the reasons given for needing a tax increase are morphing. Remember that when asked why GCHS is to cost so much more to build than Fayette and other surrounding county's schools, and so much more than the national average, Hub responded because Scott's standards are higher. Now that that excuse has crashed and burned, and the excuse that we need the tax increase for repairs and upgrades must be abandoned because it exposes that the district has robbed its Capital Outlay fund (the fund the state provides to cover repairs and upgrades), we are beginning to hear the predicted and tired old "go to" notions that because of our enormous growth, we are in need of the tax increase to fund even more elementary schools. WELL FINE! If that is a legitimate reason, let it stand on its own merit and ask for a tax increase when that time comes! And what has Hub offered other than platitudes to address fiscal waste and inefficiency in the district?

According to today's Georgetown News Graphic (another edition not mentioning the missing $27 million), Hub is "leery about trying to relaunch the project prior to January, when the new board is seated."  Doesn't he really mean "until a new Chairman is installed"?

Don't allow Hub to hold GCHS hostage! We have the funds. BUILD IT NOW!

But wait! None of this is even Hub's call, now is it?


                                                         

Saturday, August 6, 2016

THE 27 MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION

Hold on to your hats. WE AGREE WITH MIKE SCOGIN!!!

Just on this one point mind you - that new Scott Schools Superintendent Kevin Hub can take a mulligan.

As Scogin points out in today's Georgetown News Graphic editorial, Dr. Hub, in seeking a tax increase, was just following what he thought were his orders. Those orders most likely coming from the loudest voices and strongest tax proponents on the School Board -  Jennifer Holbert and Jo Anna Fryman. These two, the two J's,  think they hold a monopoly on wanting a second high school and prefer it appear that new Board members Stephanie Powers and Kevin Kidwell are against a new high school. NOT SO! The difference is that the J's want a tax and spend high school and Kidwell and Powers want to clean up Scott School's fiscal morass while building a new high school.

Dr. Hub needn't concern himself that building Great Crossing High School  (GCHS) will deplete the district's bonding capacity, leaving little reserve for other and future needs. This community will generously step up with a tax increase once he demonstrates the money leaks from the Putty/ Blankenship days are a thing of the past AND we are getting a long belated second high school AND a fiscally responsible culture is under construction. We can start a fresh building process tomorrow with the new found $27 million to add to the previously reported $25 million, with ample additional bonding coming online as well as yearly 4% tax increases while we are building that will complete the athletic fields. We emphatically suggest a new BG1 be filed right away with the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) before the District Facility Plan gets co opted as it did by Putty and John Cooper in 2010.

And now, what about that new found $27 million? The question of where it had been hiding during the Putty tenure is getting lost in the predicted avalanche of the crumbling Putty legacy. You probably didn't notice the 27 million dollars that spontaneously appeared as soon as Putty departed, what with the media reports of recent. In the last week alone you have learned of just some of the lawsuits with their genesis during Putty's tenure, AND a State Auditor's investigation of Putty's surplusing of functional computer equipment involving Putty's long time chauffeur, Sheila Setzer, AND  the abrupt resignation after a visit to Business Health of Mark Wickersham, Putty's 2013 hire as Director of Safety, the man who was arrested in his home town of Richmond just two months after his hire on a DUI charge with a minor aboard and no insurance, AND an unusual arrangement that isolates Putty's Artistic Director of Transportation, Roy Prince and his proclivities from any employees and any day to day operations until the district can be shed of him in October, AND an Office of Education Accountability complaint that alleged the chauffeur used the district's bus garage, the bus garage's resources and personnel and the district's van to have her personal vehicle repaired (perks of sitting next to Putty day in / day out) ETC, ETC.

So we can see why you may have missed it, the missing $27 mil.  But Scogin shouldn't have, and frankly shouldn't have had to had the $27 million been accompanied by a proper explanation. But that begs the bigger question, why the hush hush? Here's the back story.

Purposely perpetually exhausted so as to avoid accumulating enough to afford a second high school, Scott's bonding potential was on a painfully slow growth path, from just under $10 million after being exhausted when the J's added lighted tennis courts and ball fields to Lemons Mill Elementary School. In its BG1, a state required initial building form filed a year or so ago for phase 1 of Great Crossing High School to the KDE, the Board reported bonding of a little over $15 million. The bonding reportedly had grown to $25 million when last publicly disclosed last November. And then, as soon as Dr. Hub appears on scene, he reports a $48 million bonding potential (most recently reported as $52 million), AND NOBODY FLINCHED!!!

No reaction whatsoever from a Board who had been agonizing over and wishing for just a few million dollars more so their $23 million phase I of GCHS could have a library and gymnasium. Nary a flinch when there should have been a "get out the shovels" celebration. Instead the J's wanted even more dollars and apparently convinced the new Superintendent, who apparently uncovered the missing millions, to ask for more in the form of a 13% tax increase. But hey, that's less than the 27% these two tried for in 2013, yet didn't have the courage of their convictions, shirking instead of allowing the community a vote.

Why haven't you heard about the missing millions before reading this? Well, it was mentioned, just no one noticed, what with the lack of reaction from the Board; the GNG's obligatory blind eye; and the aforementioned concurrent distractions. But $27 million is a game changer folks! With it and the $25 million that we WERE aware of, there needs be no further delay in the construction of GCHS.

To that bigger question - why the hush hush?  We can only speculate, as we shouldn't be doing in a transparent culture. Maybe it is as simple as embarrassment for a Board that wasn't aware it was sitting on a game changer, all the while anguishing. Maybe it is to protect the reputation of the highly revered Director of Finance whose job it is to always have a handle on this number. Whatever it is, it is clear that an action at the July 7th Board meeting points an inferred finger at  the district's long time contracted fiscal agent - Ross, Sinclair and Associates.

Action item #4 on that evening's agenda was to terminate the district's long standing relationship with Ross Sinclair. And this unprecedented action was conducted as if it were a common consent item, with no fanfare or comment and no questions from the Georgetown News Graphic. Ross Sinclair may be perfectly innocent concerning the missing millions, and their long standing contract being terminated concurrent with the discovery of the missing millions a mere coincidence, but if so it is certainly an unfortunate alignment of the stars. Whatever, and especially if innocent, Ross Sinclair deserves that the community hear where the millions were every bit as much as the community deserves to hear it.

The community deserves to know and it's the least we should get in return for the mulligan. Was the money purposely hidden to avoid construction of a second high school? If not answered soon, the $27 million will blend into the woodwork, and that will be on Mike Scogin and his News Graphic as well as the Board.

Transparency is the next step for healing the school district. Otherwise it's "the more things change, the more they stay the same".











Friday, July 1, 2016

LET THE HEALING BEGIN


Today is the day! LET THE HEALING BEGIN!

Some say the best way to heal our school district is to just let bygones be bygones and put the dark days of the Patricia "Tish" Putty tenure behind us. Certainly, acting as if the Putty era was little more than a bad dream would be the "easiest" way forward, but just as certainly, little healing would be accomplished. Until the Putty atrocities are acknowledged, the wounds of those whose reputations, careers, and even lives were ruined by Patricia Putty will only fester. Fair or not it will be up to our School Board to initiate real healing. Here's how.

Start with the lawsuits.  "Lawsuits!" you say! "What lawsuits? If there were lawsuits we would have read about them in the News Graphic!"  Yeah, right.

The lawsuits are a matter of public record and are on file at the Circuit Clerk's office at the Justice Building for all to see, even the News Graphic. And yes they are multiple, with another being filed next week. Most interesting is the "possible litigation" the School Board retired into Executive Session to discuss at its most recent School Board meeting on June 16th.

We can only speculate as to which suit the Board discussed in executive session that evening (as executive sessions are conducted in private), but wouldn't be surprised if it were related to the State Auditor's investigation of Scott Schools just recently revealed by the Hearld Leader. We do note that Patricia Putty, the self proclaimed "Chief Executive Officer" of Scott County Schools was not allowed in this session - instead simply leaving the building while the rest of the Board excused themselves into a private room. Now that is curious indeed. Putty never allows the Board to meet without her, and certainly not in executive session. The only reason we can imagine for Putty not being allowed to participate is that she might be named in the litigation being discussed. This one could be a doozy folks! And curious also is that the Georgetown News Graphic fails to mention such "little" details, instead providing Putty a front page puff piece about her "retirement", never once mentioning her contract non-renewal being the impetus for her claimed "retirement". And in yesterday's editorial, Publisher Mike Scogin lauds Putty's accomplishments while in bold letters states "the numbers aren't too far from the national average", an obvious reference to Scogiin's recently discovered Niche school rankings.  Mediocrity seems to always have been Scogin's motto and it shows in his propped up newspaper.

Right is right and wrong is wrong!  And these lawsuits are black and white. We now look to how our School Board responds to these lawsuits to reveal its own heart. "Right" is for the Board to direct its attorney to NOT defend wrong. While it was Putty's actions that have brought these suits, it is the Board - as Putty's boss - that ends up sued. For the Board to even attempt to deny or delay justice to those wronged by Putty would make the Board accomplice to her actions. Our School Board can send a message - a strong message - the right message - to these wronged individuals; to the community; and to future district administrations by being forthright with all parties and directing its new attorney to make short work of these lawsuits. In short - do what is right - and do so expediently without dragging the wronged through further humiliation. The Board CAN direct their attorney to reach fair settlement with these individuals and do so with haste. These have suffered enough. The wronged know it was Putty who wronged them, but to deny them swift justice will be on the Board. And there are also things the Board can do for those adversely affected by Putty but who didn't have the resources to fight back with lawsuits. Don't forget these most vulnerable, Board.

School Board - we know that you deserve a rest, a rest from all the shenanigans you've had to circumnavigate from the Putty administration AND your own attorney.  But rest won't be yours until you provide remedy and restore reputations to all those wronged by Patricia Putty. You have a new attorney without an agenda who can help you do it. Only then can you rest and only then can Scott County Schools put this ugly chapter behind it.

Today is the day! Let the healing begin.



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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

COUNT 'EM DOWN

The official minutes of the February 5, 2015 Scott County Board of Education meeting record for posterity the unanimous 5/0 vote to not renew Superintendent Patricia Putty's contract at its expiration on June 30, 2016. Today we celebrate a 30 day countdown to a new era for Scott County Schools.

Amusingly, those same minutes record a prepared statement read by Putty AFTER the unanimous non-renewal vote, stating her intent to "not request a contract extension" and her intent to retire at the end of her contract. One can only surmise that Putty brought the prepared statement with her to each meeting just in case she got the vibe that that night might be the night the Board would take such an action. With the aid of the Georgetown News Graphic, she now wishes to revise history claiming retirement brings her tumultuous tenure to an end. Hardly. The record shows the truth.

You see, Patricia Putty prepares the Board Meeting agendas. The agenda prepared by her hand for that cold February night made no provision for her an opportunity to read her prepared statement. Instead she abruptly and inappropriately interjected her little diatribe in a shameless attempt to save face. But again the record records the truth. The Board voted to not renew her contract and only then did she pull out her "prepared" statement. Sad.

And now we learn of her 11th hour attempt to provide individual raises to her acolytes at last Thursday's meeting, hidden but discovered in Agenda item #9. Sad. And sad pretty much sums up the tenure of Patricia Putty at Scott County Schools, with so many lives adversely affected.

But glad we are that in 30 days Patricia Putty "retires". And glad we are for the arrival of DR. Kevin Hub. (see what we did there?)

Yes, we would rather a qualified candidate had materialized from out of state for our Superintendency, one unindoctrinated by the KY Association of School Superintendents (KASS). KASS is the good ol' boys club that all KY Supers belong to, and the very good ol' boys club that extracted Fayette Superintendent Tom Shelton and made him their Executive Director when things went south for Shelton over a measly $20 million at Fayette County Schools. As Superintendent of Logan County Schools, you can bet that KASS at least tried to get their hooks in Dr. Hub.

But we extend our benefit of doubt to Dr. Hub. And to that end we wish to withdraw somewhat to provide him room to get his feet wet. And we do so on the eve of 100,000 visits to this site, 30,000 unique.

But there will be "tells", even early on in Hub's tenure. And some of those tells, depending how handled, we will not be able to ignore. You see, there is right and there is wrong. It's past time for right for Scott County Schools.

30,29,28,27,26,25,24,23,22,21,20,19,18,17,16,15,14,13,12,11,10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 - DING DONG