Saturday, February 6, 2016

STAND DOWN SCOTT UNITED.....

....you've had your Superintendents. The current one came with the cooperation of the Kentucky School Boards Association (KSBA).

Scott County United, or Scott United's 501(c)(6) IRS tax exempt status claims the group's program service is to promote "Economic Development and Coordinate Private and Public Efforts To Stimulate Economic Growth". That sounds plenty high minded, but what explains a non-profit with such a haughty purpose in the year 2016 having zero web presence? Hmmm?  A stealth non-profit?

Recall our February 22, 2015 post asking the question "Who is the Scott Education and Community Foundation"? We asked that, after this separate non-profit went silent, having not filed a 501(c)(3) 990 tax return since the year 2010, then sprang to life 5 years later last January to sponsor a $1,300 billboard promoting Scott County Schools. How expending funds to promote the local school district aligned with the Foundation's tax exempt program service to promote the Yuko-En, KY-Japan Friendship Garden is quite a stretch, particularly considering the organization's ending fund balance of $387,403 for tax year 2010 had mysteriously dropped to zero for all years subsequent. Where did the $387,403 go and where did the $1300 come from?

What does one non-profit have to do with the other, besides a special interest in the Scott County School District? A similar cast of characters, that's what. One John P. Cooper in particular. 

( to be continued )   9

Friday, January 29, 2016

WHEN COMMON SENSE MEETS ACADEMIA...

...it gets ugly. But then, we said it would get worse before it could get better.

We don't know which astounds us most - that she suggested it, or that she took credit for the original proposal. But nothing, nothing should surprise us that comes from Patricia Putty's mouth. And of course, this most newsworthy event at Thursday's meeting of the Scott County School Board will go unreported in the Georgetown News Graphic.

At a meeting intended to calmly re-engage the previously contentious second high school construction process, the conversation began on egg shells. Recall that only three of our five school board members could see the wool being pulled over their eyes at last September's meetings to approve a rigged site preparation package (please see our post below - "The Sword of Damocles"). Those other two still don't get it, both still anxious to write that check. But worse is that they can't get this simple common sense notion - that because of 25 years of similar blindness, Scott County Schools is financially strapped and needs to save where it can SO OUR COMMUNITY WON'T SUFFER THE EMBARRASSMENT OF OPENING A NEW HIGH SCHOOL THAT THE FIRST THING VISITORS SEE WHEN ENTERING THE BUILDING IS AN UNFINISHED SPACE WITH BARE BLOCK WALLS AND A GRAVEL FLOOR WHERE THE LIBRARY IS SUPPOSED TO BE!!!!!! Whew!

Academia can't handle common sense, no matter how gently you expose it. Before anyone knew it, Jo Anna Fryman was going off on the author of common sense, Kevin Kidwell. This common sense guy was the one who exposed the September scheme and saved us who knows how much. Now he is the proponent of having a finished library in our new high school even if it means 12 foot wide hallways instead of 16 foot. And it got so ugly, Board Chair Haley Conway wisely called for a break, only to return to the ugliest moment of the meeting - courtesy of the lame duck superintendent, Patricia Putty.

There's plenty of ugly to pass around here though. Out in the hallway during the break, Scott County High School Partial Principal Joe Pat Covington shamelessly began lobbying Board members to reconsider his proposal to build a new 9th grade school instead of a second high school. We all know why.

When the meeting reconvened, the first words spoken came from Patricia Putty, asking the Board to reconsider HER proposal of building a 9th Grade School instead of a second high school. This woman knows no shame, hanging around to derail the second high school once again. It all helps explain why Mrs. Putty bitterly clings where she is not wanted. She continues to carry the string pullers torch and is desperate to stay in their good graces. Too late for that, BUT IT WASN'T HER PROPOSAL BACK THEN!!! IT WAS MR. COVINGTON'S!!! Before that, it was ours. Such is the boldness of a narcissist. July 1 can not come soon enough!

Nor does the Georgetown News Graphic know shame. You won't read these details in its sanitized account of the meeting. The library, that is - the lack of a library (not in the plans formulated before common sense was seated on this new Board) is easily the most compelling issue with the new high school, but the News Graphic dutifully continues to hide this detail from the public.

What the Scott County School Board needs is 5 members, all with common sense. That opportunity comes in November. Without a change, Garth Elementary may soon be on the chopping block, requiring yet another new elementary school. There's that common sense thing again. Deadline to get on the ballot is August.

Oh - and those string pullers? They've been naughty of late. If those who know don't come forth and share -  we will.

We are after all - "The Sword of Damocles"!    16

Friday, December 11, 2015

THE SWORD OF DAMOCLES

                                             EXTRA! EXTRA!      READ ALL ABOUT IT!!! 
On the right hand bottom of page 3 of the November 28 Georgetown News Graphic is what is called a "Special to the News Graphic".  That particular "special" was submitted by former Governor Steve Beshear's office, touting the good his administration did for Scott County over his two terms in office. That's what a "special to the News Graphic" is - sort of a propaganda piece written by someone else and submitted to the Graphic. 
Go back one edition (the Thanksgiving edition) and you will read what is essentially a "special to the News Graphic" as the headline article. But that headline article titled "PUTTY 'Mis-conceptions' led to school delay" - came with a by-line of Dan Adkins.  Maybe Mr. Adkins typed this "article", but it reads as a submission.
This "special", along with the 28th's front page headline REVELATION that "Expected growth threatens SCHS" reveal the desperation of not only Mike Scogin's News Graphic, but also that of those propping up his little enterprise.
This has to be embarrassing for GNG publisher Scogin to be so obvious a lackey, and we would take great delight in his and the string puller's squirming were it not for the damage they have done. Damage to recent, current and future classes of students who will suffer the overcrowding that our own GNG ignored for years.  Why the newspaper's "revelation" of overcrowding at SCHS at this late hour?  There are several reasons, all rooted in their desperation to be building SOMETHING,..... ANYTHING!  (Hello It's Me) -   Apologies to Todd Rundgren.
The years of ignoring the high school overcrowding had nothing to do with the popular theory that a second high school would dilute athletic talent. Those who pushed that sports powerhouse agenda simply provided useful idiot cover for the pullers. The string pullers couldn't care less WHAT is being built, just that SOMETHING is being built. A high school project languished simply because a project of such scope would require a construction-less period of time for bonding potential to grow enough to afford it.  But for money to leak, money must flow. 
It's most likely why the 2010 Local Planning Committee (LPC) reversed the 2006 LPC's priority of building a second high school and replaced it with Lemons Mill Elementary. We had enough bonding for a project such as LME and could start construction immediately. We would have had to idle any construction for a period of time before beginning a project the scope of a high school. It's interesting now to go back and see the members who comprised that 2010 LPC.
Remember that local school districts control two pots of money, the tax generated "General Fund" and the tax financed "Construction Fund". The general fund is where Scott County Schools wastes money (over $5 million annually in salary excesses alone). The construction fund is where money can leak and where ANY construction delay - can delay leaks. 
By and large, construction projects are funded by the school district selling bonds, and there is a limit to how many bonds that can be issued. That limit is referred to as "bonding capacity". Although not quite this simple, think of bonding as getting an equity loan secured by the equity in your home. The bonding capacity is a complicated formula that calculates how much bonding debt the school district's revenue stream can meet the payments for. For Scott County Schools, the capacity is $100 million, an attractive pot indeed, and a pot not watched (as it hasn't been for 20 plus years), attracts attention.  
The bonding "potential" is the difference between that calculated capacity and how much is already owed. Scott's perennial low potential is the result of Scott's addiction to keeping a construction project under way. Ogoing projects have never allowed a period of time to pay down the debt so the bonding potential could grow enough to build a second high school. Scott's LPC District Facility Plan manipulations thareplaced a second high school and allowed recent quick "fixes" such as Elkhorn Crossing School, Lemons Mill Elementary School and the Ninth Grade Cafeteria Expansion project all exhausted the bonding potential available at the time of the project. With the public awakened by schstoobig to the desperate need of a second high school, and no bonding to build it, your just previous School Board attempted to provide an "intravenous fix" in the form of a 27% tax increase. The tough love taxpayers denied that fix. Now, a quick fix comes from the Superintendent in the form of a"phased" construction high school. Phased construction will once again keep the potential exhausted, but will at least keep the money flowing. Addicts don't think beyond the next fix. 
We don't disagree with phased construction, it's the only option the free spenders have left us. But consider that the Superintendent most responsible for keeping the potential exhausted (and hence, no second high school is now working tirelessly to build (or start to build!) a second high school when she should be coasting toward non-renewal. Consider her surprise announcement of this current plan just two months after not mustering the resolve to place the 27% tax increase on a ballot. This rush to build in April of 2014 was necessary to secure Roger Ward and Becky Sams' votes to approve the aptly named Alliance Corporation as construction manager before Ward and Sams' assured losses in the elections coming in November. And it worked. That is, it worked until the recent vote to not accept the site excavation low bid cut off the flow. And suddenly the GNG notices the overcrowding at SCHS? Hmmm. 
But the GNG's turnabout has several secondary benefits.
First is its attempt at revising history. If the GNG can place the blame on current School Board Vice Chair Kevin Kidwell for delaying the construction of GCHS, then maybe everyone will forget the truth that Becky Sams and Roger Ward refused to even plan for a second high school for their entire tenures on the Scott County School Board. To place that blame though, required the GNG to do what it does best - not tell the "whole" story.
Thanksgiving's "Special to the News Graphic" submission never mentions Agenda item 10 from the September 3, 2015 meeting. That's because the submission never even mentions the September 3rd meeting at all. And that's because the submission wants readers to believe it was the Board's action to table the approval of the site prep package at the September 10th meeting as where this delay of breaking ground for GCHS began. 
Video beginning at minute 35 from the September 3rd meeting reveals a ten minute discussion, rich with detail, concerning approving the site preparation package at that very meeting. The Board was prepared to approve, but it was Scott School's Director of Facilities Mike Luscher that asked the Board to NOT TAKE ACTION! The GNG submission dare not recount this first meeting. It's fascinating that the official and legal record of that meeting - the meeting minutes - simply records the 10 minute discussion as "Bids were discussed but no action taken".  Here's what was discussed.
Mr. Luscher came before the Board concerned that since the site preparation low bidder, Bischoff Brothers of Bardstown's bid was $300,000 less than the next lowest bidder, maybe Bischoff didn't understand the scope of the project. He wanted an opportunity (no pun intended) to meet with Bischoff before accepting their bid in case they needed to raise their bid.  (This is all on video folks. Mr. Luscher didn't offer to meet with the higher bidders to see if maybe they had overestimated the scope of the project, now did he? Please think about this and connect your own dots!  
It was at the September 10th meeting where School Board Vice Chair Kevin Kidwell, apparently having had his curiosity piqued from Mr. Luscher's curious request from the 3rd's meeting, questioned what he had discovered in the interim. Seems Mr. Kidwell had discovered that the excavation plans provided to bidders were different from the plans the Board approved. Not much different the "submission" implies, just a "retaining wall".  Uh - how about a half million dollar retaining wall???  And Kidwell questioned why the low bidder seemed to have not requested a bid package before making its bid. Both reasonable questions indeed. And certainly cause enough for a vote to table. But that tabled vote would not have occurred had Director of Facilities Mike Luscher not risked his assured "yes" vote at the September 3rd meeting. Had he not, a check to Bischoff Bros. for $1,600,000 would have been written, excavation would be occurring as you read this and GCHS would be opening in the summer of 2017. Yes, for the GNG to mention any of this would not allow them to paint Mr. Kidwell and the Board as the culprits in the delay of GCHS.  Selective memory and selective reporting indeed.  BUT IT'S ALL ON VIDEO!!!  Yet no mention in the GNG of this critical meeting or these critical details.  
Another benefit of the GNG's revelation is diversionary. It diverts attention from the missing $18 million of bonding projections we detail in the post three below this, titled "Connect The Dots" and distracts from the shenanigans going on at the district level detailed in the post just two below this one titled "UNTOUCHABLE".  Any other local newspaper would salivate to report these shenanigans, but not the GNG. We will let you connect these dots. 
Much like an addict needing a fix, this stalling of the Great Crossing High School (GCHS) construction project has the string pullers in a cold sweat. The two editions of the Georgetown News Graphic make it desperately obvious. They are sweating bullets indeed. Just read the articles! They're a hoot! Watch the videos. They are on the district's website. And join us in asking why the School Board is being painted as the culprits. Desperation indeed.
We want a second high school for the right reasons and for no more than it should cost. That probably means our new Superintendent should write the first check.  Oh - and that other pot of money - the General Fund. We will discuss it and its excesses should another tax increase be proposed.
The "Sword of Damocles" reference comes from the November 28th GNG revelation that SCHS is overcrowded. schstoobig IS the Sword of Damocles and we hang by a single thread over the string pullers and the GNG.  
Stay tuned - the thread is about to give. And in that, we do take delight!






Thursday, December 3, 2015

CARNAGE UPDATE

We are researching for a post that will expose the propagandist front page headline "submission" published in the Thanksgiving edition of the Georgetown News Graphic. In the meantime we want to provide this update on the carnage being inflicted on good people in our school system as first reported in the post below titled "Untouchable".  These are good people whose only mistake was to stand up for themselves.   

Twenty three year veteran Scott County Special Needs School Bus Driver Joni McClanahan has now sat suspended for a month without any contact from the man who suspended her - Human Resources Director Frank Culross Howatt. Ms. McClanahan made the mistake a couple of months ago to sign up for public comment at a Scott County School Board meeting and simply asked that the School Board allow the KY Employees Support Personnel Association to oversee the election process that would select a classified employee to sit on the Superintendent Selection Committee. This would conform to the Board's allowing the local teacher's association oversight of the election of their representative on the same committee.

Now why would Ms. McClanahan think oversight might be needed? Well let's see. 
Without  oversight the classified election is entirely administered by the Superintendent's new secretary. The Superintendent has made no secret of her disdain for classified school bus drivers (see post below - "Untouchable). The new secretary is an old buddy of Superintendent Patricia Putty's from Woodford County Schools. On the ballot is a school bus driver who served on the 2008 Selection Committee who was the only member of that 2008 committee to not sign off on the hire of Putty. What could possibly go wrong with this recipe?

Couple the Superintendent's disdain with Ms. McClanahan's signature on the penis grievance and it should come as no surprise that Ms. McClanahan finds herself suspended shortly after addressing the School Board. Suspended for a month now, just before Christmas with no evidence of any wrong doing presented to her. Scott County School Board Policy 03.27 states - The period of suspension shall not exceed the time needed to determine whether the employee is to return to active service or face disciplinary action. Or in short - "poop or get off the pot". 

Now, our School Board is famous for avoiding weighing in on personnel matters simply because law and policy directs that only the Superintendent can "hire and fire".  Granted. 
But there are exceptions. Scott School Board Policy 03.26 states - The Board will not hear any complaint concerning personnel actions taken by the Superintendent, UNLESS the issue concerns constitutional, statutory, regulatory or POLICY application. This circumstance of leaving Ms. McClanahan hanging clearly violates policy 03.27, and 03.26 allows the Board to weigh in and demonstrate they do not approve of the retaliations being cast on the Board's own personnel. Step up School Board. 

By now our School Board has surely been notified of the law suit filed on the 18th of November on behalf of another school bus driver who signed the penis grievance. This 12 year veteran Scott County driver was fired for stepping off the bottom step of her bus at Western Elementary to speak to the Principal, something other drivers do with impunity. 

Knowing the passion this injustice has evoked in Tina Alloway, and knowing the reputation of the attorney representing her, this suit, unlike so many others brought against our School Board for the actions of its Superintendent  (and never mentioned in the News Graphic), will most likely be played out in court.  We taxpayers never hear of the settlements of the many cases brought, but we all pay for them in the form of ever higher school district insurance premiums. We will probably hear about this one.

Another signor of the penis grievance and long standing stalwart native of Scott County, Durbin Wallace, defends his honor in court soon. Rumor now has it that soon after Mr. Wallace's arrest for picking a first grader up and moving him to another seat, another driver had the police called to his bus by a parent for a similar charge. This driver, who did not sign the penis grievance, was not publicly excoriated by the Superintendent or charged by the police, as best we can discover. Nor did this driver attend School Board meetings as Mr. Wallace did.

Artistic Director in Absentia of Transportation Roy Prince hasn't shown for work since allowing his employee of the month to not report for a federally required drug test. Did you read about this in the News Graphic? We didn't think so. But he remains on the payroll while his department is haphazardly run by a mother and son team. 

That mother and son nepotism, Linda True and son Josh, is in direct contradiction of a KY State Auditor's recommendation for School Boards which is endorsed by the KY Commissioner of Education. How can our Board continue to use the tired old cop out that they can't get involved in personnel matters when their own Commissioner directs them to? Weak! 

Consider dear School Board.  Who else in this administration can these good folks turn to but you.  Will you continue to turn a blind eye?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

"UNTOUCHABLE"

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!