Some Afternoon Montgomery Co Tidbits

Some things:

  • Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday’s inner circle has refused to provide comment either on or off-the-record but other Kentucky Department of Education sources and members of the Montgomery County Board of Education tell us Holliday was deposed last week by Joshua Powell’s attorneys. The deposition is in Powell’s case against the board for what he alleges is wrongful termination. You can only imagine how crazy that was. Particularly in light of Holliday saying Powell’s termination was absolutely legal and just.
  • Powell is still pushing ahead with his lawsuit and with his request for a due process hearing. Though, the hearing won’t take place until July — long after his original contract would have expired.
  • Powell has not returned district-owned equipment. He probably thinks he’s being slick in pretending he’s permitted to keep equipment until June 30.
  • District officials are in panic mode after yesterday’s revelation regarding faux booster spending.

Eyebrow-Raising MoCo Title IX Data

Let’s start with common sense: high school football and basketball are big deals in Kentucky. They’re probably the only sports, save a bit of baseball, anyone pays attention to. It probably comes as no surprise to anyone that those two main sports have booster clubs/organizations raising $20,000+ per year in many school districts.

In light of various spending scandals that we’ve uncovered involving Montgomery County Schools — specifically Title IX investigations and discrimination lawsuits — we’ve kept an eye on the flow of cash in the school district.

On May 11, 2015 we uncovered a massive Title IX reporting/spending scandal involving Phil Rison and others within Montgomery County Schools. Rison and his then-boss, fired superintendent Joshua Powell, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on an athletics facility without approval. They also deliberately withheld information from required Title IX reporting and also appear to have misled or intentionally lied to colleagues about spending reporting requirements.

Yesterday, on June 1, 2015, we revealed that Rison and the district still have not properly reported expenditures and activity on Title IX reports with the Kentucky High School Athletics Association.

But that’s not where the fun ends.

Here’s the latest data from the district:


CLICK TO ENLARGE — PDF

Montgomery County’s most recent KHSAA/Title IX reporting for the 2014-2015 school year, documented in the PDF above, include a surprising development. In the previous years during Powell’s tenure, boosters in the county have reportedly never spent more than $1,950 on athletics facilities. During the 2014-2015 year, however, boosters have all the sudden raised and spent more than $300,000 on facilities. The increase is so drastic that both former and current coaches, school board members, teachers and students have expressed concern to us.

Let’s take a look at the numbers as reported:

BOOSTER SPENDING TOTALS BY YEAR

  • 2010-2011 — $49,255
  • 2011-2012 — $93,348
  • 2012-2013 — $103,270
  • 2013-2014 — $84,410
  • 2014-2015 — $342,757

BOOSTER SPENDING BY CATEGORY

EQUIPMENT

  • 2010-2011 — $46,755
  • 2011-2012 — $52,868
  • 2012-2013 — $50,097
  • 2013-2014 — $77,910
  • 2014-2015 — $29,107

TRAVEL

  • 2010-2011 — $0
  • 2011-2012 — $29,882
  • 2012-2013 — $37,281
  • 2013-2014 — $6,500
  • 2014-2015 — $1,600

AWARDS

  • 2010-2011 — $0
  • 2011-2012 — $9,672
  • 2012-2013 — $10,200
  • 2013-2014 — $0
  • 2014-2015 — $0

FACILITIES

  • 2010-2011 — $0
  • 2011-2012 — $1,950
  • 2012-2013 — $0
  • 2013-2014 — $0
  • 2014-2015 — $312,050

PUBLICITY

  • 2010-2011 — $2,500
  • 2011-2012 — $3,976
  • 2012-2013 — $5,692
  • 2013-2014 — $0
  • 2014-2015 — $0

Now let’s examine the latest booster spending on facilities:

2014-2015 FACILITIES — BOOSTER SPENDING BREAKDOWN

  • Archery — $9,036
  • Baseball — $23,841
  • Boys Basketball — $32,280
  • Girls Basketball — $28,540
  • Boys Bowling — $9,892
  • Girls Bowling — $9,892
  • Boys Cross Country —$9,094
  • Girls Cross Country — $9,094
  • Fast Pitch Softball — $24,668
  • Football — $32,706
  • Boys Golf — $9,398
  • Girls Golf — $8,498
  • Boys Soccer — $15,774
  • Girls Soccer — $16,874
  • Boys Swimming — $6,643
  • Girls Swimming — $6,643
  • Boys Tennis — $7,698
  • Girls Tennis — $7,698
  • Boys Track — $11,345
  • Girls Track — $11,345
  • Volleyball — $15,649
  • Wrestling — $14,536

Surprising amounts of cash in any circumstance.

Boosters dropping nearly $20,000 on bowling when students practice and play at the local bowling alley? What on earth?

We’ve attempted to get answers from district officials but everyone from Phil Rison to the high school principal have chosen to avoid providing comment or explanation. Not answering the most basic questions regarding spending raises red flags galore.

Dozens of open records requests have been filed and those are pending.

What’s going on here? Are Rison and the district inflating girls expenditures paid by boosters to make their per-student costs similar to boys? Are they covering up the baseball field renovation by spreading those costs around? Are they making these claims because booster spending is easier to hide and manipulate when only a couple people control all of the cash and all of the reporting?

To go from raising and spending $0 booster dollars on facilities the year prior to $312,050… well…

Something stinks. And that’s why we’re running this story prior to obtaining records. Because someone out there knows something and the usual suspects in Montgomery County are going out of their way to avoid any level of transparency.

If you know something, SPILL IT!

Contact Jake at this address:

We keep sources confidential.

Contract For New Montgomery County Superintendent Could Prevent Powell-Like Problems

Montgomery County Schools hired a new superintendent last week and Matthew Thompson has finally signed a contract.

Highlights:

  • A morality clause (!)
  • Base pay is $10,000 less than Powell initially received
  • No more “consulting” work during business hours
  • No more legal CYA with friendly attorneys
  • No more annual $5,000 annuities
  • No $650/month vehicle allowance
  • No $250/month technology allowance
  • $2,500 moving expenses instead of $10,000

The biggest part of Thompson’s contract — with our emphasis:

14. REMOVAL

Superintendent shall comply with Professional Code of Ethics and agree to comply with KRS 161.790, and so that the Contract shall remain in force during the Superintendent’s good behavior and efficient and competent service and Superintendent agrees that “just cause” shall include but not be limited to:

a. Insubordination, including but not limited to violation of the school laws of the state or administrative regulations adopted by the Kentucky Board of Education, the Education Professional Standards Board, or lawful rules and regulations established by the local board of education for the operation of schools, or refusal to recognize or obey the authority of the Kentucky Department of Education and the Board in the performance of his duties;

b. Immoral character or conduct unbecoming an educator;

c. Physical or mental disability; or

d. Inefficiency, incompetency, or neglect of duty.

Every single line of that was a slap in the face to Joshua Powell. Review Powell’s contract here and here.

Review Thompson’s contract below:

In PDF form:


CLICK TO ENLARGE — PDF

If you’re on mobile and can’t access PDFs, in JPG form:



CLICK EACH TO ENLARGE

Beginning of a new era for Montgomery County Schools?

Time will tell.

Montgomery Money Co Spending $$$

Just how expensive has Joshua Powell been for Montgomery County Schools?

Here’s a small taste:


SOME LEGAL FEES

That’s just the beginning. But it’s still probably less expensive than it would have been to allow him to ride out the contract. With all the lawsuits and shenanigans springing forth.

Ouch.

Those Chromebooks are already costing the district far more than it bargained:


CLICK TO ENLARGE

$749.94 for six damaged devices.

The district is still throwing thousands of dollars per year at the misleading local newspaper:


CLICK TO ENLARGE

Which probably ought to stop, as it most certainly doesn’t serve the community. Heck, we’d give them the ad space for free and way more Montgomery Countians would see it than would in the paper. Free. For anything they want to advertise. We’ll create a special page.

Surely the district could meet legal requirements by placing ads in other publications in the region if necessary.

Be sure to check back shortly after 2:00 P.M. today for something you’re all waiting for. Longtime followers of the Montgomery County saga will especially appreciate it.

Some Friday MoCo Food For Thought

A couple fun bits from the Kentucky Revised Statutes:

KRS 156.138 — Duty of Attorney General

The Attorney General, upon the written recommendation of either the Governor, the Auditor of Public Accounts, the chief state school officer, or the Kentucky Board of Education, shall institute the necessary actions to recover school funds, from any source, which he believes have been erroneously or improperly allowed or paid to any person.

And:

KRS 156.142 — Jurisdiction

In all actions brought under the provisions of KRS 156.132 to 156.138, jurisdiction shall be vested in the Circuit Court of the county in which the school district is located.

Frankfort’s buzzing over Montgomery County.

Cough.

Montgomery Co Chromebook Update

Montgomery County Schools can’t afford textbooks but it’s still moving forward with that ridiculous Chromebook plan.

Turns out? The situation is so messy that district leadership can’t even get its budget in order.

We’ve cut video down from the latest board meeting — primarily because someone uttered “um” more than 200 times in ten minutes — to give you a taste of the mess:



When will the school board, led by Alice Anderson, get it through its head that every expenditure made in the district needs to be reviewed by the board every single month? After the past four years, it should be beyond clear that extreme efforts need to be made to get things back on track. There’s zero reason not to spend a couple extra hours per month reviewing a detailed line item budget.

There’s so little trust in the district that it’s actually unfair to the incoming superintendent not to review everything.

But we’re talking about the Montgomery County, so it’s tough to have reasonable expectations.

Will the board toughen up? Will it stop publicly pushing to dismiss lawsuits while being privately supportive? Will it force Joshua Powell to return taxpayer-owned equipment and resources? Will the group have the guts to stand up to its small town newspaper?

The current board may be 99% less corrupt than the previous board but the levels of paranoia and timidity are through the roof.