|Honoring a lawmaker
Adrian Arnold was honored Friday, Aug. 22, at the Clay Community Center by the Montgomery County Democratic Committee. The event included a catered steak dinner with about 185 people in attendance. Speakers were Dr. Jack Razor, Sen. R.J. Palmer, Rep. Richard Henderson, Hank Hancock (who served with Arnold on Legislature) and Roger Thomas, executive director of the governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy.
|Large crowd attends board meeting
|By Tom Marshall
Senior Advocate writer
Montgomery County Schools Superintendent Josh Powell was under fire from members of the public again Tuesday night during the regular monthly meeting of the Board of Education.
Parent Jennifer Golden criticized Powell for reportedly milking the school system for thousands of dollars in salary and benefits.
She claims that in addition to Powell’s $146,000 salary and his wife Anna’s $90,000, vehicle allowance and mileage reimbursement they and a select few administrators are receiving free day care.
Meanwhile, the school district spends $6,000 for advertisements prior to movies at Tenth Frame Cinema and unnecessary billboards, she added.
“You guys are too busy lining his pockets,” Golden told the board, later adding that “for all the children and taxpayers of this county, get this leach out.”
At the same time, Golden said, board members Kenney Gulley and Kelly Murphy expressed opposition to last week’s proposal for free breakfast and lunch for students at the elementary schools and Early Learning Center.
She singled out Gulley, who at the meeting said free meals should not be offered to students whose parents are deemed capable of paying for them.
“I found your comments to be rude, ignorant and completely disrespectful,” Golden said. “I would expect a written apology on behalf of all the hardworking Montgomery County citizens that you work for and that you represent.”
Golden also questioned the status of a teacher she alleged was drunk when he appeared at a faculty breakfast earlier this year.
Questioned about the accusation following the meeting, Gulley said he was not aware of any such incident and Powell said he couldn’t discuss it since it would be a personnel matter.
Golden also accused Powell of manipulating test scores that show improvement within the school district.
Golden says Powell has moved students to special education classrooms and shifted others to different schools to make it appear there is progress.
“He’s feeding lies to our community,” she said.
George McGuire, a retired educator, also addressed the board in regard to Powell.
McGuire said that based on numerous interviews, news reports and letters to the editor in the Advocate, the time has come to part ways with Powell. He said there’s more to test scores and the school system shouldn’t be run by threats.
“This reign of terror must end,” he told the school board.
McGuire provided his own grades to some school board members, including A pluses for Alice Anderson and Sharon Smith-Breiner for standing up for what is right in his judgement. He also gave Donna Wilson an A for her service.
McGuire encouraged them to work closely with board attorney Shelly Williams to ensure that Powell does not obtain an extension to his contract.
Gulley and Murphy did not file for reelection.
McGuire said the problem with the school is that it is led by a superintendent who suffers from a lack of character and “moral compass.” He urged the board to end the “tyranny and harassment.”
Powell critic Bruce Walters also appeared before the board and questioned several actions taken by the board and the status of an ongoing investigation by the Educational Professional Standards Board.
Two speakers, teachers Lindsay Tufano and Sammi Hatfield, spoke out in Powell’s defense.
Tufono, who teaches at the Sterling School, thanked administrators, especially Powell, for his guidance as she participated in a graduate program through Morehead State University.
Tufono said she learned a lot about leadership and courage.
“I have learned important lessons about leadership, quality instruction and how to be courageous in doing what is right even when opposition arises,” she said.
Hatfield, a Mapleton Elementary School teacher, began with an indictment of critics’ insatiable appetite for venting attacks on Powell via Facebook, Topix, Twitter and the website Page One Kentucky.
“It’s smut,” she said.
Hatfield, who served on the Superintendent’s Screening Committee that recommended Powell to the board, urged the public to think about Powell’s children when they are taking shots at him via these social media sites.
In a lengthy address to the board, Hatfield defended Powell as “a highly qualified, highly intelligent man who cares about the district’s kids.”
She noted some of the initiatives that he brought with him, such as Powell’s Priority, the Sterling School, the accelerated academy and Mandarin Chinese as a foreign language in the elementary schools among others.
Hatfield also applauded Powell for “hiring the best and the brightest” and making difficult changes.
“He’s made changes in Montgomery County that were long overdue,” she said.
During his superintendent’s report, Powell said the change in culture has resulted in “nonsense” in the form of needless attacks and defended his record both financially and academically.
Powell said he tries to dismiss the attacks by spending time in the classroom.
Powell also addressed a comment by McGuire concerning his “interviews.” He noted that he wasn’t among those he spoke with.
A sizeable crowd of about 50 people crowded into the Camargo Elementary School cafeteria for the meeting.