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? 

Friday, May 22, 2015

MIKE SCOGIN WEIGHS IN...

….as a lightweight. 

Mike Scogin has a problem.  More than one actually, but a big one regarding Scott County Schools.  Yes, we regularly criticize Mr. Scogin's editorial absence concerning his wife's employer, Scott County Schools.  His May 19th Georgetown News Graphic editorial though reveals his conspicuous editorial absence has reached a tipping point.   

Of all that occurred at the May 14th Scott County School Board meeting (and the May 7th meeting for that matter, or the April 23rd meeting, or - FOR THE LAST 20 YEARS..... but we digress), Mike chooses to enter the fray with an issue he can present as petty and that represents this Board's full body of work. Neither is the case. 

How about Agenda item # 20, Mike?  You know -  the agenda item that asked the Board to approve yet again robbing our new high school's construction funds to appease administration's whims?  AND THE BOARD SAID NO!!! UNPRECEDENTED!!!  BIG NEWS, MIKE!!!  But not a word from you. No. Or from your reporting. 

Here we finally have a Board that recognizes the district's perilous financial circumstance and acts on it, and nary a word. And here was an opportunity to offer context to Board Member Stephanie Power's repeated concerns about locating Great Crossing High School on a 20 foot deep fill placed there to prevent the original plan to turn Phase I (Elkhorn Crossing School) into our second high school. She keeps asking how much the district will be spending on the extraordinary efforts that will be required to build on that fill area when there are so many other acres on which to build. WE MUST SAVE MONEY! But she can't get an answer.  Easier to characterize her as an obstructionist.

Which brings us to this little ditty revealed in this same meeting that you or your paper failed to even mention  - GREAT CROSSING HIGH WILL NOT HAVE A GYMNASIUM!!! WHAT??? 

Yep!  And no mention whatsoever in the News Graphic!  The last the public had heard concerning a gym was from Finance Director Randy Cutright a couple of months or so ago.  At that time positive financial projections indicated a gym was a done deal. Don't you think your community deserves to know about this little revelation, Mr. Scogin? Money saved by not building on a fill could go to providing a gym.  But instead you editorialize on the flier. 

Or this - (again, at the same meeting) - our artistic Director of Transportation's throwing his Superintendent "under the bus" with his revelation that he had not vetted agenda item # 8's "common carrier" approval request. This was very interesting because the Superintendent had assured the Board some time back that all such tour bus considerations would first be considered by Mr. Prince to allow him opportunity to satisfy the Board's legal requirement to provide school buses before allowing tour buses to transport school children.  And then, in case the Super wasn't fully under the bus, Mr. Prince reminded the Board that school buses are eight times safer, that he has school buses available, and he would not recommend using tour buses for this agenda item trip. 

And what about the Board finally receiving the long awaited staffing information from Human Resources Director Dr.* Culross.  This was a big deal, but no mention in the News Graphic at all.  Are you curious at all about why Band Director Tom Brawner received his pink slip the morning after the April 23rd Board meeting where it was made abundantly clear the Board expected to receive staffing information?  Are you curious at all why the furor over his non-renewal died as quickly as it began?  Are you curious why the Board went into closed executive session Thursday before last? The community is curious about all these things, Mr. Scogin. 
Instead, you hand pick a serious discussion involving an ethics violation from the end of the meeting and turn it into a platform for you to appear involved and engaged in School Board affairs.  

Your editorial headline - "Children lose out when adults focus energies on squabbling" reveals a tired old intent - to marginalize by playing the "children" card.  If you had attended even one School Board meeting over all these years you would know that this Board's focus is instead to salvage what's left of a school district ravaged by Boards and Superintendents past.  Spare us your politically safe lecturing that "it is time the swords were laid down and each side find some common ground - which obviously is the education of our young people and the welfare of the school system as a whole". 

This Board is doing the hard work to preserve "the welfare of the school system as a whole" that can't be accomplished by your self serving "go along to get along" mantra.  This work, so long evaded, deserves its community's newspaper's support. Instead it must overcome your obvious bias while digging the district out of its financial hole.  Shame on you, your "editorial", and your newspaper. 

Next Board meeting is Thursday.  Come on out before weighing in.  Oh, and we noticed your wife survived the rash of pink slips that recently went out that Mr. Brawner was the victim of.  We feel for all those pink slipped, those less fortunate (or connected), whichever the case may be.