Wednesday, September 24, 2014

THE PUBLIC TROUGH


Can you remember when there was an element of sacrifice to work in a local school system?  The pay was not much but the benefits and the hours helped offset the sacrifice. Well, it’s still that way for the lower paid classified employees such as cafeteria workers, custodial staff and bus drivers, but the pay for the rest way outpaces private sector jobs. You will find the proof below. Yes, and all with job schedules unlike anywhere else! Just choose – do you want to work 100 days a year? 185 days? 240 days or a full contract of 260 days? Your choice and the excellent benefits remain. Plus there’s double, even triple dipping on retirement, meaning you can retire and draw your retirement check, all the while going back to work at your same previous high rate of pay, and the school system contributes money to your second or even third retirement account.

And now we know why so many keep quiet. These high salaries buy a lot of silence. So it’s no surprise that most of the complaints that come to the schstoobig confidential email account are from the lower paid employees. But most interesting is that none – zero – of those complaints have been about pay.  Rather, the complaints are all about either wrong doing or mistreatment they suffer at the hands of the high salaried.

Below you will find the purposely randomized, raw data the Scott County School Board provided the reluctant Georgetown News Graphic to minimally satisfy the latest state law we have called them on. The law does not require the News Graphic to print it.  But you should. A big "THANK YOU" to Carole Landry for acquiring this copy of the list from the News Graphic. Let us know if you need your own copy.

Some notes : the district went to pains to randomize the data. It is not organized either alphabetically, numerically, vocationally or otherwise - it is random to make it difficult to analyze. This alone should tell you more than you need to know.

It's not alphabetical for a couple of reasons. First, it prevents easily finding an individual's or a peer's salary. But more importantly, it prevents the community from seeing how many high paid administrators have spouses and children feeding well at the same trough.

The dollar amounts do not necessarily reflect a salary. The dollar amounts reflect what the Board paid out to each individual listed over the course of the 2013-14 school year - not necessarily that individual's salary. For example - newly hired Director of Safety Mark Wikersham worked only a couple of months after being hired before taking a leave of absence for the balance of the year after his DUI arrest (he was welcomed back by Board Member Becky Sams at the September 9th board meeting). His amount therefore is low as are others such as newly hired Director of Transportation Roy Prince, etc.

Another reason a salary may appear low is because no information is provided as to what position each individual holds nor, and more importantly - how many days their contract requires they work a year. While a typical full time job is a 260 day contract, many of these dollar amounts reflect greatly reduced days. For example - Director of Facilities Mike Luscher is a 100 day employee. Not bad pay for 100 days. Especially for a double dipper!
We intend soon to have some OCR software that will allow us to enter this list into a spreadsheet. Then some meaningful analysis can begin. We will also explore the hundreds of thousands of dollars Scott County taxpayers are spending yearly on employees who work not for Scott County Schools but rather for the KDE under an arrangement called – Memorandum of Agreement. Certainly notice the over $100,000 salaries but the big news here is the proliferation of $60 to $90,000 salaries. And remember, this data is for the last school year.  Those $90,000 salaries are now likely $100,000.  Enjoy.
 













Friday, September 19, 2014

ALBATROSS


Why do you suppose no "Board Meeting Summaries" were provided for the September 2 and September 9 Scott County School Board meetings? These "summaries" are posted front and center on the district's website and emailed to the district's 1100 plus employees after each School Board meeting. BUT NOT THESE TIMES!  Read on.

Lemons Mill Elementary School (LME) will always hang as an albatross around the necks of all who robbed the monies that the 2006 Scott County School's District Facility Plan (DFP) prioritized to fund a second high school. And now that same albatross will be carried to the polls of all Board members who approved a Phase II of LME that hid their intention to inappropriately spend restricted funds on athletic fields there. Make no mistake - the money spent on athletic fields and lighted tennis courts at this ELEMENTARY SCHOOL is a rebuke to the community that protested the planetarium originally and secretly planned. Had we known there was even to be a Phase II, much less athletic fields, we would have chosen the planetarium. We had no idea it was an either/or proposition. It shouldn’t have been.

But it turns out our School Board received their own rebuke recently. The crocodile tears were real and flowing at the September 2nd Scott School Board work session because of that rebuke and is why no "Board Meeting Summaries" were forthcoming. There it was revealed at the end of the meeting that a late June communication from the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) failed to approve particular payments to contractors of the athletic facilities at LME because the Board failed to mention those athletic facilities in its District Facility Plan (DFP). What a tangled web you weave when you always set out to deceive.  Board member Haley Conway astutely asked upon learning of the rebuke - "Do you suppose it was because the fields were at an ELEMENTARY SCHOOL that got KDE's attention"? Even the typically stoic School Board Attorney joined the chorus stating he knew of no law allowing the KDE to disapprove the payment and would demand KDE officials provide him that law at a hastily called meeting with those officials  scheduled for the next Monday.

Fast forward to the Tuesday, September 9th regular School Board meeting, a day after that KDE meeting. Two last minute revisions were made to that evening's meeting agenda. With little public explanation and no fanfare, the first of the added items quietly moved $263,337 out of our current HIGH SCHOOL'S construction monies through a mechanism called a Capital Outlay transfer, to pay the athletic field contractor. Yep, once again - robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Then came the kicker. With an apologetic tone of someone who had been served some come uppence, the Board Attorney quietly advised the Board to include any 2nd high school athletic facility desires in the Board's current DFP.  Apparently there is some law concerning such after all.

Who spends millions on lighted tennis courts and not one but two ball fields at an ELEMENTAY SCHOOL?  More importantly - who holds those that do accountable? Back in the day it was Penny Sanders in her role as Director at the Office of Educational Accountability (OEA). There is no Penny Sanders there nowadays.


A community depends on its local newspaper to hold its local government accountable. Not the front page reports mind you, but the page 4 editorials that are meant to provide background, context and "the rest of the story" and drive community issues. Most editorials in our local Georgetown News Graphic are reprints from other community's newspapers and the rare actual NG editorial is propaganda such as the one in last Saturday's (9-13-14) News Graphic. That one should prove once and for all that our local paper is in the pocket of its publisher's wife's employer - the Scott County Board of Education.

But in case you need more evidence – Mike Scogin, the publisher, is sitting on a list of over 1100 Scott County Board of Education employee salaries (including his wife”s) that state law requires school districts provide their local papers annually. State law and School Board policy require this provision for a reason. ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY!  The Superintendent of Schools claims the district provided the list to the News Graphic on August 29. Mr. Scogin is adament that he will not print the salaries, and granted has no legal obligation to do so. But in not doing so fails his community, as not doing so has for many years..

In the wake of Fayette County’s state audit travails, what else can possibly explain the Georgetown News Graphic not providing its circulation base with the reason our School Board must continually rob its Construction Fund (capital outlays) to feed the behemoth, salary swollen General Fund?

Not printing the list will become Mr. Scogin’s own albatross.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT


“SCOTT COUNTY SCHOOLS NEEDS SCHOOL BUS DRIVERS” screams the giant sign plastered to the side of a school bus parked roadside at the district’s Central Offices.  Think you couldn’t be hired as a school bus driver at Scott County?  Think again!

The criminal indictment reads:


THE GRAND JURY OF LEWIS COUNTY CHARGES:

COUNT 1:  That on or about December, 2009 and in Lewis County, Kentucky, the above-named defendant unlawfully committed the offense of:  SEXUAL ABUSE IN THE FIRST DEGREE, in violation of KRS 510.110 a Class D Felony, Violation Code 11220, when he subjected an adult female, P. H., to sexual contact by forcible compulsion.  ALL AGAINST THE PEACE AND DIGNITY OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY.


The Commonwealth, with its dignity duly insulted, offered 4 years for a guilty plea for this Class D Felony charge and tendered this recommendation on July 27, 2012. As is often the case in our system of “swift” justice - with years of pre-trial hearings cancelled and rescheduled and after multiple prosecutors assigned and removed from the case - the Felony charge was ultimately plead down on March 7th of this year and amended to a misdemeanor Disorderly Conduct with 12 months, conditionally discharged for 2 years and no contact with the victim.

The details contained in the 80+ pages of court records in this case are difficult and disgusting to read.  Suffice it that the victim alleges that on that December day in 2009, her Director of Transportation at Lewis County Public Schools asked her to have a seat in his office while he dispatched the two other employees there on an errand and then instructed her to follow him out into the bus garage to show her something. Thinking he wanted to show her something on a bus, she followed but claims he pulled her into the garage bathroom out of camera view.  “While in the bathroom, the victim reported that the “examinee” held her against her will, rubbed her breast with his hand, rubbed her vagina with his hand and kissed or licked her neck”.  There’s more.

That last bit in quotation marks comes directly from the KY State Police’s Polygraph Report administered on April 10, 2012 and is why the defendant is referred to as the “examinee”.  Questions asked of the defendant in that polygraph included -  Q – Did you touch that woman’s breast while in the bathroom?  Answer – No.  Q – Did you touch that woman’s vagina?  A – No. -  The final narrative of the polygraph states - “The results show that (the defendant) showed Deception on the Polygraph”.  


So come on out, baggage and all – Scott County Schools is hiring!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

INSULT TO INJURY!


We get why the Scott County School Board wants to keep their July 8, 2014 unanimous and glowing evaluation of their Superintendent quiet.

Yep, it was just two summers ago that the 2012 School Board put this community in an uproar when they gave the same Super a $19,740 annual raise.  No wonder the 2014 iteration made no mention at this past meeting that they were going into executive session to conduct a summative (final) evaluation of their Superintendent.  And no surprise that afterward they purposely left that fact out from their “Board Meeting Summary”, published just after that meeting and still findable under the “more district news” tab on the district’s website.  And then, as if to cover themselves after we exposed that little omission in our last post, they laughably stuck mention of the evaluation deep in an unrelated article posted on the district’s homepage.  That article has now mysteriously disappeared  (even from the archives). 

But what explains our local News Graphic newspaper failing to mention the evaluation, now nine editions later? Neither of two separate articles concerning the July 8 School Board meeting published by the newspaper made mention of the evaluation or the executive session that produced it.  Folks, our School Board commands a $54 million annual budget (second only to Toyota and almost the sum of both county and city government) and an additional $100 million of bonding capacity that is not being held accountable. In any other community, this is the job of the local newspaper.  For whatever reason, that simply is not happening in Scott County. More on this in a future post.

But there may be another reason to hide this particular evaluation.  You see, it comes on the heels of Superintendent Patricia Putty’s finding that her recent Director of Transportation hire did not violate school board policy when he discussed and drew a penis in a bus driver training session (see our previous posts titled “NUMB”, “THE PRINCE WHO WOULD BE KING” and ”NO VIOLATION OF POLICY”).  Not that he didn’t discuss and draw the penis, mind you - those facts remain uncontested - but that doing so didn’t violate policy.  It did.

Let’s see?  Didn’t a Scott County Middle School teacher just begin serving a jail term for sexually engaging with a female student?  Hmmm.  And didn’t an indictment just come down on a Scott County High School teacher for sexually engaging with a student.  Neither should come as a surprise with the message sent by this latest evaluation.

Implicit in the Board’s evaluation is an endorsement that it is OK for Scott County Schools department heads to subject subordinates to sexually explicit discussions and drawings. Implicit in their evaluation is that it is OK for their Superintendent to ignore board policy. School Board - you hide your evaluation because of your shame.  Your evaluation adds insult to the injury of 28 brave school bus drivers who finally found the courage to say “enough is enough” and file grievance against the artist administrator.  Can you imagine the hell that would be paid should a superior of Board Member Jo Anna Fryman subject her to the same at Georgetown College?  

The 2012 School Board earned the Morehead News “Knucklehead Award” when they gave the same Superintendent the unprecedented 15% raise. The message this evaluation sends eclipses that absurdity and earns each member of the 2014 Scott School Board membership on Team Penis.  
Shame be on each and every member of the 2014 Scott County School Board.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

TEAM PENIS


It was a simple question.  She followed the Scott County School Board’s own public comment policy to a tee so she could ask it.  All the question required was a simple yes or no answer. Yet Board Chairman Roger Ward would not allow Carole Landry to ask it at last Tuesday evening’s Scott County School Board meeting.

Instead Roger sent Mrs. Landry to the hallway outside the Board room to ask the question in private of Board Attorney Bob Chenowith.  This, mind you, at a “public” meeting.  Nine full minutes were spent out in that hallway for what should have been a simple yes or no answer.  And not one protest.  Not one Board Member spoke up and defended Mrs. Landry’s right to ask her question in public. No protest from the newspaper, typically a defender of free speech.  For nine whole minutes thumbs were twiddled, but no hint of a protest.  When Mr. Chenowith and Mrs. Landry returned, the meeting continued as if nothing had happened.

Only Mrs. Landry knew what she wanted to ask, so why did Roger protest so?  Because Roger’s policy requires anyone from the public wishing to comment, first sign up  stating  the agenda item about which they wish to comment.  Mrs. Landry did just that, not knowing Roger could pick and choose what he would allow the public to discuss. Roger wasn’t about to allow any comment or question about this topic.  And NO ONE protested! 

The question?  The simple question?  Here it is.  Is the Superintendent's evaluation mentioned in agenda item #32 a “summative” evaluation?  WOAH!!!     OUT OF BOUNDS!!!!!     FOUL!!!!

We get it that Roger and Co. wanted to keep the evaluation secret, what with past debacles, and with no mention in the nine News Graphics published since, it appears he has succeeded.  Already past due and in violation of state law on this evaluation, Roger obviously was attempting to avoid giving the evaluation entirely, just as he recently attempted to avoid board redistricting.  Too bad for him a citizen petition forced the latter and our previous post outed him on the former.  The evaluation agenda item showed up on the Board Agenda  mere hours after we posted about it Thursday before last.

But, other than for Roger’s deceit, there should have been no need for Mrs. Landry’s question in the first place.  The agenda should have denoted whether or not the evaluation was to be “summative”.  But instead Roger hid mention of it almost entirely among the legalese of the Board retiring to “executive session” with no mention of the evaluation being “summative”.  Why is it important?  Why does it matter?  Because the process the law provides for intends the public be made aware of a Superintendent's evaluation. It's entirely possible the newspaper reporter didn't even know of the Board's intention to conduct a summative evaluation, explaining his leaving the meeting at 8pm.

State law allows school boards to go into “executive session” (i.e. “meet in private”) for only a few reasons, one being to discuss the evaluation of their Superintendent.  Now you wouldn’t know it from the behavior of the Scott County School Board, but all other business outside executive session is to be conducted before the public in a public meeting.  Our  Board, even after our electing two new “agents of change” in November 2012, continues to conduct much of the public’s business privately. Any business this Board doesn’t want before the public is simply approved without any public discussion.  Since the public hasn’t access to the materials the Board has before them and are not allowed to comment once the Board gets into its agenda, many items are approved as the public sits in the dark.

After any executive session intended only for "preliminary" discussion of the Superintendent’s evaluation, the Board must, upon return from that executive session ( unless otherwise listed on the meeting agenda)  adjourn and conduct no other business.  Boards may go into executive session for “preliminary” discussions of their Superintendent’s evaluation as often as they deem necessary but eventually must wrap up the process with a Board Meeting for a “summative” evaluation.  The law regarding summative evaluations requires that when the Board comes out of a summative executive session, the public be apprised of their summative finding.  This is why Mrs. Landry’s question was critical. Mrs. Landry wanted to know whether to remain for the unknown duration of the executive session.  If the evaluation were to be "preliminay" with no summative component, she would have preferred to go home.

Who can know the Board Attorney’s nine minute response to Mrs. Landry’s simple question out in that hallway?  Only a lawyer can obfuscate a simple yes or no answer into nine minutes. What we do know is that Mrs. Landry returned to the meeting somewhat confused but pretty sure he said there was to be no summative evaluation.

We also know a couple of other things about the diminutive, white haired, 70 something  Carole Landry.  1 -  she has more courage than our School Board members possess in sum total.  Recall the district’s lilliputian Human Resource Director removing her from a meeting earlier this spring for her demanding the truth be told. And  2 -  SHE’S NOBODY’S FOOL!  When the Board left the public meeting room last Tuesday night at 8pm to go to their executive session room, Mrs. Landry and her husband Brad didn’t take a chance on that nine minutes of lawyer speak.  Rather, she and Brad set up camp, along with their video camera, just in case the Board did come back and serve up a summative surprise.

AND THAT THEY DID!  Realizing at 11:15pm that the Landrys were prepared to stay the night if necessary, the Board returned -  WITH A SUMMATIVE STATEMENT!  Maybe 15 seconds in total (Roger even suggested the Board Members not bother sitting down) Roger finished by saying “The Board is pleased with the success of Scott County Schools and the success of its students under the leadership of Mrs. Putty”.  As if rehearsed and almost before the last syllable left Roger’s mouth, his Vice Chair Jo Anna Fryman moved to adjourn and her motion was seconded by Haley Conway. Meeting over! The public can only presume any vote was unanimous.

There has since been nine Georgetown News Graphic newspaper editions published, with two separate articles concerning that Board meeting, neither with any mention whatsoever that a Superintendent evaluation was even conducted, much less the summations of the evaluation.  The district has also published its slanted “Board Meeting Summary”, also with absolutely no mention of the evaluation or executive session.

Had the Landry’s left the meeting from Carole’s understanding of the 9 minute hallway response to her question, the summative evaluation would have been the Board’s own little secret to be discreetly hidden in the minutes of the meeting published weeks later. This blog site appreciates the Landrys filming of School Board meetings.  The community should too.

Check back in soon as we delve deeper in to what all this deceit means and what the provocative title of this post means. Oh, and we don't know whether or not a raise was granted.  Just so the newspaper knows, the law provides for you to receive upon request a full written report of the evaluation, which might tell us.  But remember, just as the law provides that school districts must provide newspapers records of school district employee's salaries, the newspaper must first request it. Just sayin'....



Thursday, July 3, 2014

EVALUATION PETITION?


Recall the recent Office of Education Accountability finding that Scott County Schools Superintendent Patricia Putty failed to perform annual evaluations of her department heads, violating State Law and School Board Policy?  Turns out these failings come honestly.  She herself was last evaluated in December 2012, violating State Law and Scott Board Policy.  Here’s what Board Policy 02.14 dictates concerning the evaluation of our Superintendent.

Frequency of Evaluation

The Superintendent shall be evaluated annually in writing by the Board, and the summative evaluation shall be made available to the public on request.

Process

The summative evaluation of the Superintendent shall be discussed and adopted in an open meeting of the Board and reflected in the minutes.

 

State law provides for a minimum two step process for School Boards to evaluate their Superintendents.  Part one is call a “formative evaluation” in which Board Members work in private to prepare their evaluation.  We recall our Board retiring to executive session early last spring for this purpose.  Step two is, as referenced above, a “summative evaluation” that presents the finalized evaluation to the public. That summative was due June 30.

In an obvious slap in the face, with two lame ducks leaving the board after being voted out in November 2012, that board performed both the formative and the summative evaluation at the same meeting, their last in December, 2012, robbing the newly seated Board of an evaluation opportunity at the typical time just before the end of the fiscal year in June, 2013.

Our “new” Board could technically have performed their evaluation last December but didn’t.  We assumed they didn’t so as to correct the misdeed of the previous Board with the intent of getting the schedule back on its proper fiscal year cycle. Now we’re not so sure.

With the passing of June 30, 2014, our School Board is now out of compliance with State Law and its own policy.  Are we going to have to research State Law to see if there is provision for a public petition to force an evaluation?  Seems petitions are the only way to get this “new” Board to do their jobs.

Why do you suppose our Board is reticent to evaluate their Superintendent?  We can guess but fully expect to see some sort of action now that we have posted about it.  Shame though that a blog site has to keep our School Board honest.  That’s the function of the local newspaper in any other community. Word is our News Graphic publisher, Mike Scogin, was overheard in a jovial meeting and then seen leaving the Superintendent’s office this past Tuesday morning.

What’s next?  Another $19,740 raise?

Saturday, June 28, 2014

"There's Somethin' Happenin' Here" - Buffalo Springfield


In his opening comments to the Kentucky State School Board on Thursday, Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) Associate Commissioner Kevin Brown thanked Board Members who had hastily gathered from around the state for “…coming to this unusual special meeting.  But it was necessary” he said. 

Necessary indeed.  While only a blip on most folk’s radar, last Thursday’s State School Board Special Called Meeting, called for the express and exclusive purpose of ordering the Scott County School Board to realign its voting districts, was seismic in KY public school circles.  Mr. Brown’s statement was profound and explains why media outlets and professional organizations across the state picked up on this story, including the Lexington Herald Leader and the Kentucky School Boards Association.

What turned our “Chief State School Officer”, Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday, from his original course as outlined in our previous post? Maybe it was an accumulation of things and events.  Maybe it was the phone calls you made to individual Kentucky School Board (KSB) members.  Maybe it was the persistence of petition gatherers Brad and Carole Landry.  Or maybe it was the integrity and professionalism evident in the work and attitude of Scott County Clerk Rebecca Johnson as she validated the Landry’s petition for the Commissioner.  Or maybe it was as simple as our last post alerting him of KRS 160.210’s provision that would have rendered his original course moot had a special session not been called.  If so, that’s OK.  KRS 160.210 is an obscure, never before used statute.  He can be forgiven a lack of familiarity as it was, in Mr. Brown’s words, an “unusual” situation.

As the ripples spread across the state from this directive, expect a flurry of local school board redistricting as the locals become aware of their own out of proportioned districts.  But Scott received State Board attention not because their districts were out of proportion but rather because Scott County Board Chairman Roger Ward refused to allow his Board to correct it.  Yes, the rare Special Called State School Board Meeting may have occurred because of all the reasons mentioned above, but be sure it was “necessary” ONLY because Roger and Company’s purpose had finally become evident to the Commissioner and was about to become a big embarrassment for the KDE.  Roger now has 30 days to affect redistricting or else risk his seat being cast "at large" for the November election.  You can bet redistricting will now happen.

Come back soon as we intend to further explore the ramifications and the reactions of this State School Board directive, particularly exploring the response and reporting from our local News Graphic newspaper.  Yes, there’s definitely something happening there. " What it is ain’t exactly clear”.