Wake Up America…

It’s disrespectful to those who were killed and those who were injured to try and make what happened in ‪#‎Orlando about gun control. We shouldn’t marginalize this tragedy by focusing on ANYTHING other than the real problem…Radical Islamic Terrorism. An attack on ANY community is an attack on ALL communities. Any politician or political party that diverts our attention away from the REAL problem forfeits its right to be relevant. President Obama, Hillary Clinton and the rest of the Democrats want you to believe that access to firearms is what caused the senseless tragedy at The Pulse nightclub.

The NY Times said that the NRA was complicit in the shooting and Jim Barksdale a candidate for the U.S. Senate in Georgia blamed America. Please think about these assertions for just a minute…What do they all have in common? Weakness. Our enemy is looking for soft targets and this mentality only reinforces the idea that we are not prepared to win this WAR.

I am no fan of the presumptive GOP nominee and I wish the magic political fairy would provide a legitimate alternative. That scenario is obviously unlikely, so I will be voting Republican in November… Why? We have no choice. I will NEVER support a party or candidate who actively undermines our national security and blames our FREEDOM (granted by the U.S. Constitution) for murderers killing our citizens. Wouldn’t we be better off if the terrorists and mentally disturbed thought everyone was armed and had an AR15 at home? How does it help our country to project weakness? Is this the narrative you want from your leaders?

Listen to words used by our elected officials…”Mass Shooting”, “Attack on LGBT community”, “Guns are the problem”, etc. This narrative is meant to minimize what happened and to further divide us for political reasons. Let me make it simple for everyone. This was an attack on AMERICA…All of us. It is true that our enemy hates the LGBT community, but they hate Christians, Jews, women, and freedom too. The next target could be YOUR community. I want a President who will grab the bullhorn in front of The Pulse nightclub and say…We are coming to get you!

Wake up America…The war is here and you have to pick a side. What will it be? Victory or Surrender?
United

Finding My Voice Again….

It has been some time since I last took to this blog to comment on what was happening locally and in the world.  It has been very difficult to resist jumping on here and venting, especially during the recent primary season.  When I look at out at our current reality and the leaders that have emerged I am forced to admit that our country and local community are not on the right path.

People from all walks of life want us to believe that tone, morals, and ethical behavior don’t matter so long as the results justify or excuse the actions.  Locally, we have elected and appointed officials whose narcissism and conduct put our school system at risk.  Nationally, the GOP is expecting us to rally behind a man who represents almost nothing I agree with and the Democrats just selected a dishonest person who put politics above American lives.

In my life I have tried to live by a set of principles, speak out when necessary, and take a stand even when that meant standing alone.  Those of you who know me understand what this has cost my family.  There is AWLAYS a cost to be paid for shining the light of truth into the darkness, but we cannot stop presenting a compelling alternative.  I mistakenly thought that observing from the sidelines and remaining silent would protect those I care most about… I was wrong.  Evil people intent on doing harm will just find others to hurt and punish.  People of character have a responsibility to speak out against the actions of those who put our communities and country at risk.  I am finding my voice again and will not sit quietly while people intent on material harm go unchecked by those charged with exercising appropriate oversight.

Character Matters, Words Matter, Actions Matter, Patterns of Behavior Matter…We need to open our eyes and our brains. America will not be great again if our actions are built on a foundation of arrogance and vile language.  “American Exceptionalism” is an ideal that’s possible without the scorched earth rhetoric that has become so prevalent in this election cycle.  Reagan’s “Shining City on A Hill” was a light of hope not the fires of destruction emanating from an angry mob. We can do better…

Will you find your voice too?Evil

 

 

 

Harper’s Contract Extension Improper

I would like to share some thoughts on the comments made by Fred Kittle in the article below…

  • The contract extension Dr. Harper received in 2014 was done without the consent or knowledge of the board.
  • The trigger for the automatic renewal provision that has been cited by previous BOE Chairman Davis Nelson as the rationale for the improper extension was not in effect because Harper was given a two-year extension in 2013.  The automatic renewal only activates in the final year of the contract, which would have been 2015.  Dr. Harper notified the Board as prescribed under his contract in 2013. (Read the 2013 article HERE)
  • Are we to really believe that while Davis Nelson and Dr. Harper where BOTH under PSC investigation that they conveniently forgot the rules prescribed by the contract and the fact that an extension had already occurred in 2013?
  • The real reason for the 2018 extension was because Fred Kittle questioned the validity of the 2014 extension and this vote had to occur to correct the improper action. In reality, until this vote an argument could be made that Dr. Harper was about to be working on a 1 year contract.
  • Davis Nelson while under investigation himself was the only board member who signed the 2014 contract extension for Dr. John Harper. Traditionally, the entire board signs the contract for the superintendent.
  • The only discussion that occurred as a board was initiated by me and centered on the idea that NO contract action should be taken until after the Professional Standards Commission (PSC) reached a decision. The PSC decision was in March of 2015…
  • In 2009, I expressed some very serious concerns about the automatic renewal provision that was placed in Dr. Harper’s contract.  My concern then and now is the board should never cede its hiring authority to obscure contract language. (Read the 2009 article HERE)
  • There are serious issues occurring in the Bartow County School System and apparently Fred Kittle is the only one who cares…Are there any other LEADERS on the board? How much corruption will this board, allow to before they finally exercise proper oversight?

Content taken from the Daily Tribune:

Bartow County schools Superintendent Dr. John Harper has received a vote of confidence from his school board.
At its monthly meeting Monday night, the board voted 4-1, with District 4 board member Fred Kittle opposed, to renew Harper’s contract, extending his term as superintendent until June 30, 2018.
“I am honored by the confidence placed in me by the board members,” Harper said. “Since my administration began, we have worked to improve our schools in several areas, such as the one-to-one technology conversion, which put a personal laptop in the hands of our fourth- through 12th-graders, opened the College and Career Academy and began a more expansive focus on career-related training, built new schools where necessary and ensured our schools are safer through new security measures. However, we still have areas that need improvement, and in the next few years, we will work closely with the school board to see even greater steps taken to provide the children of Bartow County with an excellent education.”
Harper’s contract wasn’t set to expire until June 30, 2017, but school board Chairwoman Anna Sullivan said board members agreed to the one-year extension to give the system more stability for some future projects currently in the works.
“The school system is in the process of some significant, long-range initiatives, such as developing plans for the new system designation, which most people will know as IE2, and SPLOST [Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax] planning, among others,” she said. “As a board, we felt that extending the superintendent’s contract provides added stability and support for this important work. We look forward to continuing to work with the superintendent as we address the challenges and celebrate the successes of our school system.”
But Kittle said he had several reasons for voting against the renewal, mainly stemming from an issue he has with an automatic renewal clause in the original contract written June 15, 2009.
Kittle said a press release from Harper’s lawyer after his legal troubles earlier this year were resolved stated the board had voted in June 2014 to extend the superintendent’s contract by three years, until June 30, 2017.
“The press release was incorrect,” he said. “There was not a board vote in 2014. This year, I learned that an automatic renewal took place in 2014 where the former board chair and superintendent signed a contract. There is a 2013-to-2016 contract that was voted on by the full board.”
Kittle provided the renewal clause that was put into Harper’s original 2009 contract: “If the Board does not notify the Superintendent in writing before June 30th prior to the beginning of the last year of this contract that this contract of employment will not be renewed, it shall be deemed that the Board has added an additional year to the life of the current contract. The Superintendent will remind each member of the Board, in writing, of the existence of this automatic renewal clause. Such notice shall be given at least two months prior to the June 30 renewal date. Failure to give the required written notice shall invalidate the automatic renewal clause.”
“In my opinion, the 2014-to-2017 contract was not valid for three reasons: The last year of the 2013-to-2016 contract would start July 1, 2015; the superintendent did not notify each board member in writing; [and] the state says ‘an individual board member has no legal authority to take any action on behalf of the board unless specifically authorized by the board,’” he said.
Kittle said he “pulled the contracts, and it appears the automatic renewal came up in 2011 and 2013.”
“The superintendent in 2013 did give a written notice, and the board voted to give a contract from 2013 to 2016,” he said. “This shows the superintendent was aware of the required written notice to each board member.”
Besides the renewal-clause issues, Kittle said he had other reasons for opposing the extension at this time.
“One is communication,” he said. “A few recent examples are the 2014 contract extension [I] learned this year, the SACS report on the communication issue, not given time to research key items before key votes that affect student achievement, such as the bell or block schedule. I learned days before having to vote [on the block schedule]. I did not want to lose 20 teachers before knowing all the facts. Some teachers, I learned at church, knew before the board vote from SACS we were going to the block schedule.”
Another reason was “not having the required board retreat in 2013 or 2014 that is required for the superintendent evaluation,” Kittle said.
“At this meeting, the superintendent is to present the system data along with his goals,” he said. “This is one of the key measures in the evaluation process. In fairness, the superintendent did have a meeting this year that is now called the annual meeting. He did lay out a well-thought-out set of goals and plans. I believe our new board Chair Anna Sullivan was instrumental in having this happen.”
A third reason involved hiring and promotion practices.
“We seemed to be losing some key people, and I worry that we are not giving enough weight for our highly qualified people to advance,” Kittle said. “I believe in hiring the best within our budget and giving highly qualified people from within the first opportunities.”
Kittle added he thinks Monday night’s vote “does correct a flaw in the 2017 contract.”
As an addendum to Harper’s original contract, the only change in the new contract is the ending date of his term, according to school system spokeswoman Cheree Dye. He received no benefit or salary increases with the contract addendum.
In 2014, Harper’s salary was $167,298.36, including a 15 percent increase that can only be used toward an annuity, plus an additional $32,919.24 in board payouts such as vacation reimbursement and Teacher Retirement System benefits, Dye said.
“As the 25th largest school district in Georgia [out of 173 districts], Harper’s salary is proportionate with comparable school systems,” she said, noting he was the 22nd highest-paid superintendent in the state. “Harper was the only superintendent of a comparable school system in 2014 without an assistant superintendent. When considering student population from highest to lowest, every school district ranked from 22 to 33, with Bartow ranking at 25, had at least one assistant superintendent in 2014 earning in the range of $95,000 to $151,000. Carroll County, ranked directly above Bartow as the 24th largest school district, had three assistant superintendents with salaries totaling $316,756.05. The district directly below Bartow ranked at 26 was Walton County with two assistant superintendents who earned a total of nearly $248,000. The superintendents of Walton and Carroll earned $241,152.48 and $184,250.66, respectively.”

A Few Thoughts on SCOTUS…

Marriage by origin, history and practice is a covenant before God by a man and a woman. We can’t just redefine something because it makes us feel better. I think the answer might be to separate this issue. Churches are where marriages belong and they are best suited to answer these spiritual questions. If the government needs some sort of record let ALL couples, straight or otherwise file civil contracts that can be adjudicated later. The government needs to get out of the “marriage” business altogether.

Another Flawed Process…

“Here are my comments on the Mission Road Elementary AP hiring”

~Taken from The Daily Tribune

Most of the meeting was uneventful, although one agenda item sparked extensive debate. 

Superintendent John Harper recommended that the current assistant principal at Mission Road Elementary be transferred to Clear Creek Elementary and the assistant principal position at Mission Road be filled by contracted service personnel, in this case retired principal Nancy Summey.

That didn’t seem right to board member Matt Shultz.

“My concern is there was a recommendation made by Dr. Harper that we contract for the services of an assistant principal,” Shultz said. “Certainly Nancy Summey is well qualified, so it has nothing to do with the person selected. My concern is there was no dollar amount and no funding source attached to the recommendation. Typically, when we hire an assistant principal, we go through our standard personnel process. 

“We have a number of people locally who have gone to school to prepare themselves for such a job, and I felt we should have gone through the process. What was the rush? We have been operating under the same conditions since July when school started. I’m concerned that this is going to result in extra costs and we already have budget problems, so I felt we could have waited till next year and funded it then.” 

Shultz noted that Summey would be hired as a 49 percent assistant principal. 

“Forty-nine percent of what?” he asked. “In the past when retirees have come back to work for us, to save money we paid them at 49 percent of the salary of a new teacher with a bachelors’ and one to two years’ experience. Is Ms. Summey going to be hired at that level, or will she receive 49 percent of her previous salary?”

The agenda item passed 3-2.

Read more: The Daily Tribune News – Bartow school board hears Ebola protocol

Tax Increase = Failed Leadership

Dr. Harper indicated that the cuts made by the system over the past few years have amounted to a total reduction of $8,774,010 since the cuts began. If you annualize these cuts over the last 4 years it comes to around $2,193,502. So essentially Dr. Harper is telling us that the school system would be running a $7.7 million budget deficit had they not taken this action. Instead of celebrating this distraction, someone should be asking why no significant spending decreases have been proposed along with this tax increase. We are currently spending $5.5 million dollars MORE every year than we take in…No business or family could operate this way. We have a spending problem not a revenue problem.

BTWBusinesses and families do not get to wave the tax wand and have more money magically appear either. They have to actually look at their budget and stop spending more than they are taking in.

The Cartersville Daily Tribune has done a poor job covering this story and has asked NO tough or relevant questions.

Read more: The Daily Tribune News – Dissenting approving opinions expressed at hearing for millage rate increase

http://www.daily-tribune.com/view/full_story/25483680/article-Dissenting–approving-opinions-expressed-at-hearing-for-millage-rate-increase?instance=homefirstleft

2015 BOE Budget Puts System At Risk

I just wanted to make a few comments on the Daily Tribune article from this morning. I don’t think it accurately paints a picture of our current financial situation. You cannot just jump to the Fund Balance total and present that as our operational reserve. The School Nutrition fund and the Capital Projects fund are dedicated and cannot be used for general school operations. Most of the expense in running the school system comes from personnel costs, which are around 85-88% for Bartow County. The real operation of the school system comes from column one in the budget summary that is attached. If you remove the two funds that I mentioned then our “real” operational reserve is $3.8 million dollars. This year (most likely due to the elections) we received an additional $2.5 million dollars from Gov. Deal and the legislature. If it were not for these funds our operational fund balance would be $1.3 million dollars.

The school system has been running a budget deficit of around $5-6 million dollars for a number of years. We have been surviving off of the money that was saved in our fund balance when the economic situation was more favorable. This budget drains that “savings account” and we CANNOT continue to operate the way that have been. It appears as though some members of the board are taking steps to propose raising the millage rate because of board action last night.

They will make the argument that we have done everything possible to avoid this situation but in reality we have added 5 days back to our instructional calendar knowing full well what we are dealing with. Right now if these numbers hold we would be short $1.7 million dollars next budget year based on our current staffing with no reserve to cover the shortfall. This could be even worse if we don not get the same $2.5 million in extra funds next year from the state. The increasing tax digest may help these numbers some but I doubt very seriously that it will cover the kind of gap we are looking at. The rest of the difference would have to come from tax increases or staff cuts.

Daily Tribune Article

Bartow Tax Summary

Wholesale Changes are Needed on the Bartow BOE

For months Mr. Kittle and I have been asking for information that would allow us to fully execute our responsibilities on this board. The current board chair & superintendent (with the assistance of the remaining board members and school attorney) are inappropriately withholding this information from us. I have NEVER encountered this kind of behavior since I was first elected to the school board in 2004. Last night in executive session, we requested this information again to no avail. I specifically asked the school system’s attorney to note in the minutes that our request had been denied. Our school attorney refused to accurately reflect this information, which is why I felt like I could not sign off on the executive session minutes.

This complete disregard for the truth, and the climate that currently exists within the school system is as unhealthy as I have ever seen it in all of my years as a school board member. There is a crisis of character on the board and leadership within the Bartow County BOE. Our schools will never achieve the kind of results we want without wholesale changes to the board, Superintendent and school attorney. As we approach election season, I hope that you carefully consider anyone who make themselves available for these open positions and what their agenda truly is.

Our students, parents and employees deserve better than the mess that has been inflicted on this community. If you continue to allow these people to lie, manipulate and shirk their responsibilities, then we deserve the future that we have chosen.

Here are my comments from the Daily-Tribune:

Following the meeting and executive session, Shultz addressed the media with concerns over the recorded minutes for the evening’s executive session.

“Mr. Kittle and Ihave been asking for information in a particular legal matter up until and including tonight. The remaining members of the board have refused to disclose that information to us. It is my personal view that the minutes that were presented for the executive session don’t accurately reflect the situation that occurred there this evening,” Shultz said. “I’ve done everything I can within my legal authority to try and get the information that I feel like is necessary to exercise my responsibilities on this board. To date, that hasn’t occurred and I don’t know what else to do at this point but just make the community aware of this and say we’ve done our best to make [the board] uphold their responsibilities and I have serious views at this point as to whether that has happened.”

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