Sunday, November 22, 2015


We don't make this stuff up, folks! 

On the morning of September 17, Scott County school bus drivers acknowledged the two-way radio calls for them to report immediately after bus routes to the random drug testing station. For the first time since Federal DOT school bus driver drug testing began at Scott County Schools in 1995, Scott County Schools had a driver fail to report to that station. Not NECESSARILY a problem on its face, however the District's response fell flat on its face. This is serious.

Scott School's top administration has failed this community and its school system even prior to Superintendent Patricia "Tish" Putty's arrival. Thanks only to those district employees with boots on the ground that our students are salvaged. If you are one of those employees and are fortunate to work in a school removed from district level shenanigans, count your blessings indeed. However, some district operation employees suffer daily under leadership's dysfunction. And nowhere is that dysfunction realized more on a daily basis as it is in the Transportation Department.

Superintendent Patricia Putty came to Scott County with a predisposition against school bus drivers. What else explains her comments to transportation employees at their summer update shortly after "Tish" arrived in 2008? She was quick to disparage employees she had never even met as "a cancer to the district". Before those drivers and others could collect themselves, she then told them they "were lucky to have their jobs". Some say her mother's relationship with a Fayette County school bus driver is at the root of her disdain. Others say it is simply part of a larger pathology. Maybe she has simply had a bad experience with drivers at one of the many districts she worked for before coming to Scott. Who knows? But it's real.

Tish's hire of Transportation "hatchet man" Roy Prince was either unveted or intentional. Considering his Christmas gift of a pair of panties for a subordinate female co-worker while still at the KY Department of Education, his undisputed and unrepentant forced discussion and drawing of a penis at a mandatory Scott County school bus driver training meeting should come as no surprise. Superintendent Putty's turning an effective blind eye to a resultant 28 employee grievance lent validity to Mr. Prince's point at that meeting - that he is untouchable. We shall now see. This is serious.

Mr. Prince can't even manage his own "Employee of the Month" program, much less the department's 90 employees. But we must give credit where credit is due - Mr. Prince is truly well versed in school transportation law. To hear him tell it, he personally wrote much of it. And he certainly knows Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) 49 CFR Part 40. That little ditty spells out the expectations that federal law has of employers who encounter a Commercial Driver Licensed (CDL) driver who fails to report for a random drug test. It quite clearly states that such an action is to be considered a "refusal to test" and that a refusal to test be regarded a "positive" drug test.

Part 382.211 states that all drivers called to report for a random drug test shall report and no employer shall permit a driver who fails to report for a drug test to perform or continue to perform safety sensitive (driving) functions. Kentucky Administrative Regulation KAR 5:080 Section 28 (2) instructs that any school bus driver testing positive for drugs or alcohol be dismissed immediately.  THIS DRIVER NOT ONLY DROVE THE VERY AFTERNOON AFTER FAILING TO REPORT FOR DRUG TESTING, SHE HAS CONTINUED TO DRIVE SINCE. This is serious. 

Scott County's transportation employee's complaints have always centered around unequal and unfair treatment. Some are favored, and those that are not are made to pay, so they say. And the evidence seems to support their claims. Consider that half of the 28 employees who filed grievance for the penis drawing are no longer employed at Scott Schools. Consider that another of those 28 now sits suspended for two weeks, losing pay, and with no charges substantiated. 

This single mother, who instead of taking a government hand out for the last twenty three years, eked out a meager living doing what she loved, driving a special needs bus for Scott County Schools. This veteran driver of 23 years made the mistake a month or so ago of addressing the School Board. She is clearly being punished and made example of for others daring consider speaking before the Board. She now sits at home in limbo after 23 years of a perfect driving record, while routes are doubled up each day for lack of drivers. Obvious indeed! 

And consider the Superintendent's recent comments to local print and broadcast media that she was "appalled" by the actions of a veteran driver and upstanding native of Scott County on the very evening of his arrest for "assault" of a first grader. SOP calls for "no comment as the matter is under police investigation" but our Superintendent instead poisoned the public perception of a case that was immediately amended down to a harassment charge. And the case is not decided. This gentleman is going to court to restore his good name. Oh – this fellow was also one of the 28, but he had another strike against him. Seems he had made a habit of attending Board meetings in the months prior to the alleged incident. 

And don't forget the driver, also of the 28, terminated for speaking with a Principal just off the bottom step of her bus with her hand on the loading door. We will speak no more of this matter as suit is being filed as we write. 

But the driver who failed to report for random drug testing was not among the 28. And that has made all the difference. In fact, this driver is Roy Prince's most recently named Scott County "Employee of the Month".  Roy Prince is intimately familiar with DOT drug testing law and FMVSA provisions. Part 382.507 states "Any employer who violates the requirements of 49 CFR Part 40 shall be subject to the civil and/or criminal penalty provisions of 49 USC 521 (b). This is serious.

Although maybe not readily apparent to the public at large, individual schools and some parents are starting to notice that Scott County School's transportation department is limping by on a daily basis with never enough drivers to fill all routes. And that is with bus mechanics driving routes each day sacrificing attention to bus repair and upkeep. Student safety may already be compromised. 

School district operations, including transportation, are under the oversight of the School Board. We must ask our School Board - is Roy Prince "untouchable"? And how far will you let our once proud transportation department fall?

This is serious. This is serious, indeed!

Saturday, November 7, 2015


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?