Quarrels Close Scott County School Board

Jan 5, 2012

The Scott County Board of Education abruptly ended its work session Tuesday after two members got into a squabble. Haley Conway and Luther Mason quarreled over Conway’s frequent questioning of decisions by Superintendent Patricia Putty and other administrators, particularly the school district’s delay in building a new high school to alleviate overcrowding in current facilities.

“I question things because I care,” Conway said, regarding his feeling that the validity of his comments are often undercut by other board members.

“We all care,” Mason interjected.

“Shut up, Luther,” a red-faced Conway snapped. “You’re the very one I’m talking about.”

“I won’t shut up. I’m ticked off,” Mason responded.

Conway then went on a tirade in which he expressed frustration with his two terms on the board.

“I’ve been here for seven years,” Conway said, then adding that he will not seek re-election this fall.

“Good. You shouldn’t be on the board,” Mason shot back.

At that point, board chairwoman Phyllis Young called for the meeting to adjourn, a motion that passed unanimously.

Putty had intended the work session to focus on getting the board to commit to specific tactics to fulfill its recently adopted mission and vision statements. But early in the meeting, Conway tried to steer members toward his concern over a new high school.

Conway said residents of Georgetown and Scott County have come to recognize the county’s critical need for a new high school. He suggested the need for the new high school outweighs the need for a new eastside elementary school, which is moving toward the launch of construction.

“At some point in time, we’ve got to get the machine going” to build the school, Conway said.

“I’d like to see a new high school,” Mason responded. He paused, then added, “At some time.”

“How do we get the money?” Conway asked.

“It’s not going to be by raising taxes,” said board vice chairwoman Rebecca Sams.

Assistant Superintendent Matt Thompson said formulas show the need for the new elementary school “is off the charts.”

“It’s not (due to) lack of money that we’re building the elementary and not the high school. It’s the numbers,” Thompson said.

Putty then tried to get the discussion back to the work session’s agenda, but moments later Conway began expressing his frustrations.

That led to the squabble.

Much earlier, the board heard recommendations from Chip Southworth, director of secondary education, regarding locations for the 2011-2012 graduation ceremony.

Southworth said using the Frankfort Civic Center is the district’s best option because of its price (probably around $2,000) and available parking. Rupp Arena, at $9,000, would be far too expensive and also charges for parking. The Kentucky Horse Park’s arena is not set up for a graduation, he said.

The board likely will consider the graduation’s location at next Tuesday’s meeting.