Sunday, March 1, 2015

BURNT TOAST


                                                                   

Roger Ward was toast as soon as the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) called an unprecedented special meeting of the State School Board last summer to force him to equalize School Board voting districts.  Roger, in his position as Chair, sought to protect his cloistered district and fought off both his duty to redistrict and Haley Conway’s reminding him of that duty for years. Having witnessed Roger’s juvenile behavior throughout his School Board term, his sour grapes after the fact complaint against current Scott School Board Chair Haley Conway to the KDE (see front page of Saturday’s Georgetown News Graphic) comes as no surprise and allows even the disinterested to see why our school system is in the shape that it is today.  With his complaint, the man who was toast is now burnt toast. He was always only about Roger and this proves it was never “about the kids” for him. His legacy of disgrace is now guaranteed.

Even with Roger now irrelevant, his complaint does help us to further illustrate another disgrace – the effective facilitating of the decline of Scott County Schools by who should have been the watchdog instead of the lapdog, the editorial board of the Georgetown News Graphic.

The “editorial board” of the News Graphic is the paper’s editor and publisher, Mike Scogin.  Mr. Scogin solely decides what is and what is not worthy of editorial opinion.  It is editorial opinion that watchdog newspapers use to provide context of front page reports so the community receives the “rest of the story” that reporting isn’t intended to provide. Long time watchers of the News Graphic under the helm of Mr. Scogin have watched that editorializing more and more avoid those entities whose hand feeds a failing paper media.  It explains why most editorials are reprints of other community’s newspaper  editorials, and the few original content editorials that are published concern people and issues that don’t affect the paper’s revenue stream.  Just ask Brad Penn!

Case in point.  Saturday’s Georgetown News Graphic front page lead headline concerning Roger Ward’s complaint filed against  current School Board Chair Haley Conway drew no editorial attention from Mr. Scogin.  Had it been the other way around and Mr. Conway had filed a complaint against Mr. Ward, you can rest assured Mr. Scogin would have editorialized eloquently about how such an action only selfishly serves to distract the School Board from its important mission of “doing what is best for the kids”.  But then, Mr. Conway is a demonstrated non-friend of the Superintendent who presides over the non-Site Based Decision Making Elkhorn Crossing School that hired Mr. Scogin’s wife at a very nice indeed entry level salary.

Without a watchdog overseeing them, the Scott County School Boards of the last twenty or so years have engaged in some questionable decisions of how best to spend the taxpayer’s money, and some questionable amounts spent and where so. The attacks and actions of Roger Ward and others do not come as a surprise now that we have seated a School Board willing to take genuine interest in and oversight of district affairs.

Sadly, district administrators who are feeling the heat, and with no other outlet, are retaliating, abusing their authority and even lying about district employees they feel have contributed to the replacing of the previous “blind eye” School Board. We as a community must not stand for this.

Mr. Conway – please continue to do as you have, stay above the fray and keep your School Board focused on the tough circumstances left you by the previous Board.  Let the KDE worry with Roger’s complaint.  Our guess is that they will see it for what it is and not bother with an investigation.  But even should they investigate, stay focused.  This community will fend for you.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

GUEST POST

 







In response to today's Georgetown News Graphic revelation that just ousted Scott School Board Chair Roger Ward has filed complaints against current Chair Haley Conway, Mr. Conway's son, Haley Conway JR submitted the post below.


Saturday, 2/28/15, 6:14 AM
 
How do you measure class? I suppose that it can be by turning the other cheek or letting things simply roll off your back. If that is the measure of class or the measure of a man then my father Haley Conway, Sr is a giant among men. He's eight feet tall and Paul Bunyan. My father ran for the Scott County School Board, in part, because he cared about his children. He was tired of his sons having to undergo shoulder surgery because their backpacks were too heavy because their high school was so crowded that they didn't have a locker. He thought it wrong that all other counties in all other states had all-day kindergarten and we did not here in Scott County. He ran simply because he wanted to make a difference like his father had thirty years before him in the same role. Since then he's taken the brunt of criticism by those that resisted change and then became a champion for a group that felt that Scott County Schools isn't quite what it could be or deserved to be. Trying to establish change when forces with their own private interests at risk can be taxing and a lesser man would throw their hands up and say "I don't need this." He probably didn't but you, the people of Scott County (and your kids) needed the change he sought. His character is now being questioned by someone with none. A bitter individual consumed with his personal image and someone as deep as a half drunken cup of coffee. Dad has once again taken this very public attack in stride from someone who has gone this despicable route before. He has once again quite literally shrugged off yet another round of attacks from an individual who appears to have more free time on his hands than integrity. I continue to look at my 8 feet tall father and just shake my head in astonishment. He continues to stand head and shoulders above those who stand on and stand for nothing. So much grief, for him, over a school board? Worth the sleepless nights or the two hour trips to Kroger that were only meant to be for milk.... To him he continues to show that its worth it. That's a man with character.
 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

WHO IS THE FOUNDATION?


Fast in the wake of the newly seated Scott County School Board's 5/0 vote to not renew Superintendent Patricia Putty's contract, Mrs. Putty's henchmen have gone to work. No one wants to call this small gardening tool a spade though, least of all the Georgetown News Graphic.

With a new found interest in School Board affairs, GNG publisher and editor Mike Scogin has biased his recent editorials and commentaries and his paper's reports to effectively mislead his readers to believe new School Board member Stephanie Powers has picked a fight with Scott County Schools  Central Office administrators.  And the misleading doesn't stop there.


In one paragraph of his February 7th editorial, Mr. Scogin attempts to rewrite history, stating “Putty became a candidate late in the process because the search committee mishandled earlier candidates.  Board chairman Haley Conway was part of that search committee”.  We might forgive Mr. Scogin’s inaccurate recollection that current School Board Chairman Haley Conway served on the 2008 Superintendent Screening Committee as just that, especially since Mr. Scogin  apologized in a subsequent February 14th commentary.
But Mr. Scogin’s egregious revisionist attempt in the sentence preceding remains uncorrected.  That revisionist attempt seeks to deflect blame for the hiring of Patricia Putty from the 2008 School Board (to which Mr. Scogin seems beholden), to the Screening Committee that timely presented that Board with five considered and worthy candidates, none of whom were Patricia Putty. Read our detailed recount of those events in the post “Super Sweet” just two posts below.  There you will discover that Patricia Putty was not among the applicants who met the deadline for the Screening Committee to consider and only appeared well past the School Board’s deadline to name a Superintendent.  But Mr. Scogin refuses to this day to report those facts, and instead tries to rewrite history.  Ours is left to speculate why. Could it be that Mr. Scogin is a principal of the Foundation?
The truth is that if anyone picked a fight at the February 12th School Board meeting, it was the henchmen.  Mrs. Powers simply (and for the first time in their experience) called these spoiled brat bully Central Office administrators out. And like spoiled brats, these administrators, via their mouthpiece GNG, took their football home by way of playing the “what’s best for the kids” card in today’s edition.



The further truth is that Mrs. Powers refused to be lied to and then stood up for those being lied about at the February 12th meeting.  And being stood up to has upset the apple cart of the string pullers and pawns alike. Where is the Foundation now?  And why is it not registered with the Secretary of State?  
We intend to find out.

 

 

Monday, February 16, 2015

GUEST POST

Bethany V. ThompsonSaturday, 2/14/15, 9:16 PM
I just wanted to say how pleased I am that the board has begun to make changes to correct what this administration has done to the credibility of the schools in this county. Getting shed of the current administration should take the form of a complete sweep. Those who have exhibited little concern for our teachers and students should be eliminated from the administration. Many teachers have expressed to me the fear that current members of Mrs. Putty's fan club might find a way to take her place or poison the water by being allowed to stay once she has gone. This is my fear as well. I hope and pray that the board will, in addition, look at the schools in terms of administration and stand alongside the teachers who would like to rid their school of leadership that is ineffective at best. We have far too many wonderful leaders in this school system to continue to allow those who can't lead to stay in their current position. Our students as well as our teachers deserve so much better. If nothing else, consider why so many teachers have jumped ship or who have stayed but are demoralized. Leadership is as critical to the success of a school as it is to a business. Please help SBDM councils understand that they have the authority to remove ineffective leadership and support them in doing this. With tenure or "reassignment" being held over their heads they are understandably afraid and need your help. I may have left my job sooner than I had wanted to, but I have been fortunate to find a home as a volunteer at Southern Elementary's library. I've been welcomed warmly and my talents utilized. Let's bring back a joy of teaching and learning and help others to find their way back into our schools as volunteers. Our children deserve the best we can give them and more. I received the training to recognize and do that under the guidance of the best boss I've ever had, Dr. Carmen Coleman for which I will always be grateful. Lastly, let me say thank you for this forum. We all deserve to know the truth and to be able to have our voices heard. The shame for the past years has been that those voices were silenced by coercion and unnecessary meanness. Without this forum, who knows how long it would have taken to rid our county schools of the corruption, deception, and ineffectiveness that has allowed this to go on. We may not all agree on everything, but those who have run the forum and those who have continued to demand excellence are heroes and are much appreciated. Now let's move forward and get our schools back on the road to excellence.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Dear Stephanie Powers,


We’ve been asked to use this space to offer heartfelt thanks from the least of Scott School’s classified staff – our county’s school bus drivers. It is fitting that we do so on Valentine's Day. What you personally endured from Central Office administrators on school bus driver’s behalf at last Thursday’s Scott School Board meeting gives you, and hopefully the rest of the Board, a glimpse of what the vast majority of school bus drivers suffer on a daily basis. Your apology for Human Resources Director Rick Culross’s false characterization of driver Tom Feck as a liar gives hope to drivers that finally someone cares to pay attention to how school administrators from the Superintendent on down treat this group.  Thank you.
And now Mrs. Powers, this blog site wants to do the same for you.  We stand in the Superintendent’s stead and apologize for the juvenile heckling you received from the administrator’s gallery at Thursday’s meeting.  We apologize for Assistant Superintendent for Support Operations  wannabe Rick Culross for rudely interrupting you as you apologized to Mr. Feck in his stead, only to inform you that he is to be addressed as Dr.* Culross, not Mr., earning him a permanent asterisk in his vain title.

But we especially want to apologize for the conduct of Assistant Superintendent Matt Thompson toward you after the meeting was adjourned. Apparently upset that you had called him out Thursday night for his unprofessional out-of-order outburst at the week previous’ meeting, he first animatedly approached fellow Board member Jennifer Holbert before seeking you out to admonish you to leave the premises. Talk about behavior unbecoming.  Mr. Thompson – you need not apply!

And to the hoards visiting this blog site daily for “the rest of the story”, we apologize and assure you it is coming.  The dust truly hasn’t settled yet, even on this three year anniversary of the infamous 2012 Valentine's Day School Board meeting. 

In the meantime, be vigilant and read between Mike Scogin’s lines in his News Graphic editorial and commentaries of late. We told you in our post “Narrow Window” (below) that he would show back up now that the string puller’s no longer control his wife’s employer’s School Board. This is where the rest of the story lay.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

"PUBLIC REPRIMAND"

While we wait for the dust to settle from the Scott School Board's effective vote of "no confidence" in its Superintendent, we think it instructive to re-visit an excerpt from our post from November, 2014.  That post recounted the botched 2008 Superintendent search that produced Superintendent Patricia Putty. Our next post intends to expose the posturing and spin in the wake of last Thursday's Scott School Board vote that honored the people's mandate. In the meantime could someone tell Mike Scogin that Phyllis Young was the Board's representative on the 2008 Superintendent Search Committee - not Haley Conway. Please stay tuned!



Thursday, November 13, 2014


SUPER SWEET


Twenty four qualified individuals, many with PhD’s, met the February 19, 2008 deadline to submit their application packages for the position of Superintendent of Scott County Schools.  Yet the 2008 Scott School Board hired Patricia Putty, a name not amongst those 24.  Here’s what we know.

At his retirement announcement at the November 2007 school board meeting, then Superintendent Dallas Blankenship introduced Mike Oder, a “superintendent search facilitator”  the district had contracted with to aid in the search for Dr. Blankenship’s replacement.  Mike Oder, a retired Superintendent from Woodford County Schools but working in retirement for the Kentucky School Boards Association (KSBA), presented our school board with a necessarily aggressive schedule that the Scott County School Board would be required to meet in order to have a new Superintendent hired before the beginning of the 2008-09 school year. It was a necessarily aggressive schedule because many applicants operate on annual contracts and their individual employment decisions must be made by late spring for the upcoming school year.

This aggressive schedule required that Mr. Oder  immediately post and advertise the vacancy by Dec. 1, 2007;  assemble a Superintendent Screening Committee (required by state law and made up of 6 individuals, Feb. 1, 2008);  prepare, mail, collect and organize application packets (deadline for applicants – Feb. 19, 2008);  present those packets to the Screening Committee (Feb. 25, 2008);  facilitate the Screening Committee’s winnowing of the 24 candidates down to 5, facilitate the Screening Committee checking backgrounds of the 5 selected and  then present those 5 to the Board (Mar. 13, 2008);  allow the Board’s consideration of the 5, allow the Board time to make a choice, investigate a choice, negotiate and prepare a contract, and then present the new Superintendent to the community (April 4, 2008). 

But something went wrong. And we do mean – WRONG! A Board Member even resigned his position shortly after the fiasco.

With all previous deadlines met, the Board’s April 4th deadline came and went. The first sign of trouble came two days later with this paragraph from a front page article in the April 6, 2008 News Graphic. “The screening committee, composed of representatives from each segment of the school population, recommended five candidates to the board BUT THE BOARD DECIDED TO EXPAND ITS SEARCH (emphasis added) chair Becky Sams said”, meaning (so everyone thought) that the Board was not satisfied with any of the top five candidates vetted and presented by the screening committee and they were instead looking at the other 19 candidates who had applied.

And then, an actual News Graphic editorial (maybe the last ever critical of the schools) in the May, 20, 2008 edition titled “CLOCK IS TICKING IN SEARCH FOR SUPERINTENDENT.”  Actually the clock had since expired back on May 15th, a date by which the 24 candidates would have needed to have made their employment choices for the next school year.

On June 8th, a full two months after the Board’s deadline, a front page News Graphic article reported just how wrong things had gone.  Titled “DISTRICT CONSIDERS INTERIM LEADER”, Board Chairwomen Becky Sams is quoted as saying, “I wish I could explain right now what we’ve done and how we’ve been going about it, but by law I can’t. After it’s over I would be glad to let everyone know just how we reached our decision.” She never did.

And then it happened, an interim appointment was avoided. A scant two days after the June 8th News Graphic report, Patricia “Tish” Putty – a name seemingly coming from the blue, certainly not from the list of 24 applicants - was presented as Scott County School’s next Superintendent.

Mike Scogin – publisher of the Georgetown News Graphic – was quick to jump on board as his very next editorial just days later screamed - “Superintendent Putty looks to be excellent choice.”  In that editorial, Mr. Scogin stated “Putty is no stranger to Scott County. Her husband, Don, is employed with Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky” and that “all indications are that the board made a sound decision in selecting the new superintendent.”  Really Mr. Scogin?  You could declare that, when just days before you knew nothing of Mrs. Putty’s consideration and thought an interim superintendent was going to be named?

That June 15, 2008 editorial exactly marks the point when the News Graphic stopped editorializing anything but positives for the Scott County School System, and pretty much avoiding any controversial or negative news of district affairs.  But not without warning. Late in the same editorial, Mr. Scogin stated “It is clear the board worked hard to find the best candidate, but questions about the search process have also justifiably arisen. It is time to put those questions to rest.” And that he did. Seems no one wants to explore Scott School’s past to this day.

Never did Mr. Scogin report how Mrs. Putty came to be Superintendent when she hadn’t applied. Never did he allow, even after his prior questioning of the search process, Chairwoman Becky Sams her “opportunity to explain what the search process involved and how the board went about it.” But the kicker - he never mentioned when citing Mrs. Putty’s qualifications in that editorial that Mrs. Putty and search facilitator Mike Oder had a past.

Yes, with the reputation of the School Board and KSBA’s search process, as well as Mr. Oder’s personal reputation as a search facilitator on the line, the Scott School Board hired Patricia Putty, once an employee of Mr. Oder’s during his tenure as Superintendent at Woodford County Schools. Hmmm. Just two days previous to Mrs. Putty being named Superintendent, Mr. Scogin’s newspaper was reporting that an interim superintendent appointment was imminent, then out of the blue a colleague of the search facilitator’s was named, preserving several reputations. And not a mention in the newspaper. Hmmm.  We are not newshounds, but the odor from this stench should have attracted even a Pomeranian.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

FAST and FURIOUS


                                                                
With three Scott County School Board meetings in as many weeks and two more scheduled for the next two weeks, Conway and Co. is off to the races.  This past Thursday’s meeting was a given though, as a preview of the 2016 draft budget is required by law before the end of January.  The account of the meeting published by the school district and by the News Graphic both left some cracks.  We’re here to fill them.



As always, the school district’s highly censored “Board Meeting Summary” is factually accurate, just absent of any details that the public might actually find interesting.  And as always, for reason.  The News Graphic’s account in Saturday’s edition is well researched and interesting and illuminates that Scott County spends more than most school districts, per student, on facilities. Some of that is to be expected as Scott builds to keep up with growth, but we wish the newspaper would focus on and question why Scott County spends more than other districts do on similar facilities.  That is the real question.  Both accounts however fail to mention Thursday evening’s most compelling revelation.

The district’s meeting summary mentions the visits to the meeting by State Senator Damon Thayer and State Representative Tom McKee, but not their respective nuanced speeches.  McKee, now representing a gerrymandered sliver of his son’s employer’s county, predictably gushed. Thayer proved more interesting.

 He began by thanking the Board for the invite (the first he had ever received, he was quick to point out), but cut the district administration’s budgetary pity party off at the pass by presenting the state’s latest SEEK contribution to the Scott School district – a cool $29 million.  And why shouldn’t he have cut them off, what with the 2016 draft budget being presented by Finance Director Randy Cutright still spending over 4 million dollars more on salaries than recommended by the Kentucky School Board  Association (KSBA).  And doing so year, after year, after year.

But the most glaring omission from both the meeting summary and the otherwise thorough News Graphic account was Mr. Cutright’s update on the Board’s projected bonding potential, the financing mechanism school districts use to fund facility construction.  It was all GOOD NEWS, so why did it get no mention?

Because it affirmed and accentuated what we have said all along – that there was never a “need” for the 28% tax increase farce.  Turns out (as we have repeatedly pointed out), that more and more bonding is coming on-line as each day passes.  The absurd 28% tax increase ruse amounted to the previous Board asking for a “go fund me” approach to building a second high school, all the while having the credit worthiness to finance it themselves.  Bottom line is that had that Board not wasted time trying to bilk the taxpayer, Scott County could be opening the second high school to students a full year earlier than is now projected.

Mr. Cutright’s self- professed  “conservative” projections have the district’s bonding potential at $22.5 million come next January, about when money starts being expended on the second high school.  With Phase I costing $15 million, $7.5 million will remain with an additional $5.9 million opening up in January 2017. This $13.5 million will easily finance the overpriced $10 million gymnasium proposed for Phase I, leaving a balance of at least $3.5 million.  Then another $6 million shows up in January of 2018 and another $12 million in 2020.  That $21.5 million should easily complete Phase II, and if planned properly, construction on Phase II could begin as students fill the doors of Phase I in the summer of 2017.

And there’s more good news!  Unlike Scott’s School Boards of old, this new Board has what it takes to make this happen. Wow, what a difference an election makes.  And for that matter – a Chair makes.  Already the meetings are more professional, inviting, comfortable and transparent.  We want to be clear that our criticisms thus far are not of our new Board.  Rather they are of either district administration or previous Board’s mistakes that this new Board must act to correct.  Early indications are they are about doing so.  Fast and furious. 










Take Chairman Conway up on his invitation and come on out to Georgetown Middle School this Thursday at 6:30pm.