Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"WISH WE HAD THOUGHT OF THAT"


Oh wait – WE DID! 

At Tuesday evening’s (4-22-14) School Board work session, the Superintendent proposed what we’ve suggested all along – to build a small 9-12 High School and grow it as the funds become available. No action is allowed at work sessions but a straw poll of Board members was unanimous in support of the proposal!

A wolf in sheep’s clothing? With this bunch, only time will tell, but on the surface it appears to be just what we have recommended, a 700 student High School built to expand to 1500 as more bonding potential comes on-line. And just as we said, we have enough money to get construction underway and more money becomes available as construction proceeds – WITHOUT RAISING TAXES!  TOLD YA!

There will be devils in the details for sure, but if this proposal is above board, it places the district’s needs ahead of its wants, unlike what occurred with the building of Lemons Mill Elementary. That project spared nothing (other than a planatarium) and robbed our county of the 2nd high school we were promised in the 2006 District Facility Plan.

Cause for celebration?  Let’s wait until the proposal is officially voted on, but it is encouraging. As for the other two agenda items on the evening's agenda, Board Redistricting and Public Comment – not so much, but we’ll save that for another post. For now, allow us to savor this moment.

Friday, April 18, 2014

BEYOND OBVIOUS

Here are the facts;

1) Haley Conway first aired the County Clerk’s concern about School Board redistricting in May of 2013. He reminded the Board of the need to re-align Board districts several times at subsequent meetings.

2) From the 2010 census;

District 1 – Haley Conway – represents 12,706 citizens – 27% of the 2010 county population
District 2 - Jo Anna Fryman – represents 11,742 citizens – 25% of the 2010 county population

District 3 - Jennifer Holbert - represents 11,114 citizens – 23% of the 2010 county population
District 4 - Rebecca Sams - represents 6,931 citizens - 15% of the 2010 county population
District 5 - Roger Ward - represents 4,671 citizens - 10% of the 2010 county population

Anyone see a disparity here? Conway represents three citizens to Ward's one. What, other than a political motivation, would be the reason to avoid fixing this? And why would the district’s Superintendent and the Board’s attorney inject themselves into a decision that is entirely the Board’s?

Once we get clearance to post video of the Tuesday, April 15, 2014 Scott County School Board meeting, yes, first scroll over to where a citizen is ejected from the meeting, but then spend some thoughtful time studying what led to that disgraceful act.

Pay careful attention to the Board Attorney’s contempt for our County Clerk and his bizarre argument concerning her use of 2010 census data. It is never clear, but is he suggesting the Board wait until 2020 to redistrict?

The disparities have only gotten worse since 2010 folks. Roger Ward’s district 1 is land locked and cannot grow relative to the explosive growth Districts 1,2 and 3 are experiencing. And that low number of voters serves Mr. Ward well, as redistricting would increase his voters, thus diluting the Faith Baptist Church vote that will otherwise keep Roger installed. And so what if the target numbers from 2010 are dated? You could not achieve a worse disparity than exists now if you tried. If it is so important, shame whoever was Board Attorney in 2010 didn’t see to it that the Board redistrict then.

Also pay careful attention to the Superintendent’s desperate concern that redistricting risks districting one or more Board members out of their own district. WOW! In her defense though, maybe she’s supposing Roger will be in charge of the effort?

But pay particular attention to the mind numbing ramblings of Board Chair Roger Ward doing his string puller’s bidding. He is clearly uncomfortable but champions on with absurd reasoning that exposes the political motive behind his resistance of redistricting. This whole episode demonstrates how critical it is that the string pullers keep Roger and that other disproportionate district seat holder, Becky Sams ’(4th district), installed.

And then the clincher. Roger Ward has the unmitigated gall to accuse Haley Conway of political motivations, wondering “why it’s being proposed at this time”. HE PROPOSED IT ALMOST A YEAR AGO ROGER, IN A NON-ELECTION YEAR! Geesh! You must genuinely see “STUPID” written on all our foreheads.

Oh, and another little fact. In a March 2014 work session chaired by vice chair Jo Anna Fryman (another meeting missed by Ward, by far the holder of the Board’s highest absenteeism rate) Fryman, Holbert and Conway voted 3 to Sams 1 to proceed with redistricting. This was the little fact that audience member Carole Landry could not allow Ward to ignore, and the reason Ward instructed Human Resource Director and apparent Sergeant At Marms, Rick Culross, to eject Mrs. Landry. Pitiful.

There is more that needs said about this meeting, including agenda manipulation and discriminatory public comment, but that must wait as we monitor the continued attempt to build a satellite classroom in lieu of a bona fide 2nd High School. That effort continues at next Monday's Local Planning Committee meeting and at next Tuesday’s work session. There is no good reason a small high school cannot begin construction soon and grow to full size 5 to 7 years from now. WITHOUT ADDITIONAL TAXES! The bonding capacity is growing monthly but keeps getting robbed to support an incredible percentage of high paid, non-teaching staff.

Oh, we almost forgot. At least 1 petition is circulating in the 4th district that by state law will bypass Roger’s agenda and force the Board to redistrict. All that is required is 100 signatures. If you vote in the Board’s 4th district (Becky Sams’ district) as does Carole Landry, and wish to sign, we understand you can do so at the Stamping Ground IGA. If our elected officials won’t represent their constituent's desires, the constituents will continue to do the elected official’s job. Shame.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

embarrASSing

We intend to soon post youtube video of this past Tuesday's Scott County School Board meeting. Words can't convey the dysfunction infecting this Board. From agenda manipulation to disrespecting an invited County Clerk to commanding the district's lilliputian HR Director to eject a 70 something year old lady, this Board Chair brings embarrassment to our entire community. Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

LPC - Easy Peasy

Done right, an LPC's job is difficult. But as it was with the 2010 Local Planning Committee, the current and recently installed LPC's job should be a breeze, although for an entirely different reason. State law requires school districts statewide to convene a committee of 20 every four years to recommend facility plans to its local school board. Scott County's 2010 LPC, with orders in hand, unprecedentedly recommended the board abandon the 2006 LPC's already in progress building of a second high school and use the remaining monies to instead build what came to be called Lemons Mill Elementary School. Nothing to it. Easy indeed. With those orders in hand exhausting the taxpayer's money for the foreseeable future, LME became the only facility project completed by the 2010 John Cooper team besides the bizarre waste of 2 million dollars called the cafeteria expansion. 2014's LPC could send a strong message indeed by taking it just as easy. Forget the exhaustive studies of the district's facilities and simply recommend a second high school. With a board resolution already in place stating its commitment to a second high school, and with a second high school sure to consume any and all facility bonding capacity for the next four years anyway, why expend unnecessary energy? That's right Chairman Jesse, go through the required motions of course, but tomorrow night throw the KSBA's facilitator a curve and just take it easy.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

THE SOUND OF SILENCE


It is when things are the quietest that you should be most concerned about what’s going on at your School Board.  Notice that other than an article about the district extending school days for students and certified staff beginning next week, there was no coverage of last Tuesday’s (3-11-14) School Board regular meeting in the Georgetown News Graphic.  Also notice there was no “Meeting Summary” posted on the district’s website or emailed to employees as is customary following a meeting.

While things may appear quiet, be assured the public’s public business is going on at hyperspeed privately via email , telephone and one on one meetings. Regardless if this technically violates the letter of open meetings law, it absolutely violates the spirit. How else can the Board disregard and skip over an agenda item with no public explanation and not one Board member commenting, even when an audience member pointed out the item had been skipped?  There was no amendment concerning Agenda Item 21 at the beginning of Tuesday's meeting as there was to rearrange two other Agenda items that otherwise would have had the Board approving airline transport for a student trip to Italy before approving the actual trip itself.  And no revised agenda posted on the district’s website where last minute agenda revisions usually show. Status Quo.

Why so quiet?  We are now two years and a month after the infamous 2012 Valentine’s Day School Board meeting where this community made loud and clear their expectations of our School Board and the gross  overcrowding at Scott County High School.  And we are now a year and three months into the terms of our newly elected Board Members, whose election further resonated those expectations.  What have we to show for it? A greedy and botched attempt to further burden the taxpayers with a 27% tax increase to cover the Board’s ineptness that went down in flames. Vision indeed!

How long must this community and its high school students wait for this Board.  There is no good reason construction should not already be underway growing our second high school off the north elevation of the ECS building as was promised by the 2006 District Facility Plan and confirmed by the district’s Director of Facilities, Mike Luscher in a detailed 2008 Georgetown News Graphic article.  There are sufficient monies currently available to have this underway and sufficient Bonding potential coming on line daily to grow the school to maturation in the next few years.  In the meantime, the small high school can relieve SCHS and can be administered by the underutilized administrative staff at ECS.

But the silence seems to be indicating that our Board may instead be posturing to allow the soon to be appointed 2014 Local Planning Committee (LPC) to do the Board's heavy lifting, with the single high school faction well represented in those appointed to that committee.  Given our School Board’s inability to affect our high school’s overcrowding, we had suggested this very tact in a previous blog post but with the condition the LPC not be populated with ringers. Don’t be surprised to see a Ninth Grade School recommended be built separate from ECS from this group.  Just check  the composition of the 2014 LPC.

Silence like a cancer grows.

(note - not long after this posting a typically incomplete Board Meeting Summary did appear on the district's website)

Friday, March 7, 2014

Quick Election Alert Update

At this past Tuesday's (3-4-14) Scott School Board work session, with Board Chair Roger Ward absent, the issue we brought up in the post below this was discussed. Under the direction of vice-chair JoAnna Fryman, the Board agreed to have the Superintendent contact County Clerk Rebecca Johnson, (the same Clerk Roger Ward offended recently concerning her handling of the recall petition) and solicit Mrs. Johnson's help in redistricting the School Board districts.

We are encouraged that the Board now agrees with us that this important redistricting occur, but are disappointed with their deadline to accomplish it of July 1st.  As we recommended in our last post, if the Board cannot get the redistricting completed by the election official's desire of the primary elections in early May, then it should be postponed until after the November general elections. Shame on Mr. Ward for not allowing this to have already been accomplished.

We stand by our recommendation.  July 1st, a scant 5 weeks before the filing deadline for Board elections, only confuses the election process, doesn't allow enough time to educate the public to the new districts and for all the other reasons we mentioned in our previous post effectively tampers with the election.  Either complete the redistricting by the primary election in early May, or postpone the redistricting until after the general election in November.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

ELECTION ALERT


It was at the May 14th, 2013 Scott County School Board meeting that Board Member Haley Conway shared with the Board our local election official’s concerns that Scott County School Board Districts needed realignment to fix the disproportionate population numbers the current districts have.  Those election officials had hoped to have had redrawn Board Districts by this May’s primary elections, a full year after their appeal, so as to affect them at the same time as they were affecting state and magisterial redistricting and minimize the complications the resultant “split precincts” would bring.

For whatever reason or reasons, the School Board once again ignored Mr. Conway and has failed to address this important issue.  Important because of how it impacts the election process and important because constituents deserve proportionate representation on the School Board.  Let us speculate a possible reason, in hopes of pre-empting should our speculation be correct.  Speculation, we remind you, would not be necessary were this a transparent School Board.

Consider what could happen and be completely legal.  With School Board Chair Roger Ward’s and sidekick Becky Sam’s seats up this November, Roger, in his capacity as Board Chair, can choose to wait until after the School Board Candidate filing deadline of August 12 to redistrict.  Doing so could allow him a peek at the opposition for his and Becky’s seats, then could allow him to gerrymander that opposition out of contention for their seats.  Don’t put such a bold move past the faction, desperate as they are to retain Roger and Becky’s influence on the Board.

Board election rules require that a candidate for a particular district’s Board seat must live in that district.  Election rules allow redistricting right up until the general election in November.  It would be  but a simple matter in a community whose newspaper turns a blind eye to School Board shenanigans to redistrict any competition for Roger and Becky’s seats right out of contention.

Another potential circumstance would have a worthy candidate who wishes they could run against either Roger or Becky, but can’t because they do not live in either of those districts, discovering after the filing deadline that they now do live in one of those districts.

Whatever the reason for the Board not affecting redistricting in a timely manner, it at the very least casts a chilling effect on the election process by the suspicion and confusion it adds.  Our recommendation, again in School Board Agenda format:

SCHOOL BOARD REDISTRICTING – Recommendation: the Board either get busy and present election officials with redistricted School Board district maps that proportion populations amongst districts by the Primary Election date in May AND publicize those maps to the community, OR postpone any redistricting efforts until after the November General Elections AND communicate this decision to the community.

Anything less, in our opinion, constitutes election tampering.