Oldham County Board of Education   -   Division Five

Your children, your money, our future.

Oldham County Schools are recognized for excellence.  The people of OC value education and educators.  There's a good chance you live here because of the schools and the great communities.  Our family moved here 16 years ago because we wanted the best education possible for our children.  Now, it's no longer enough to be among the top schools in Kentucky....we need to refocus and bring the emphasis of the board back to making Oldham County Schools competitive with the best schools in the nation.  I'm a life-long educator and that is my sole purpose for entering this race.  The current board has become distracted from its primary mission which should be academics.  It  has lost the confidence of many of the voters because it appears to be more concerned with the interests of a few people while the rest of us will bear the financial burden of ill-advised land purchases.

 

Recently, a letter to the editor appeared in the Oldham Era in which a Board member  indicated that the student population within 2 miles of Liberty and the proposed Brownsboro campus are vastly different numbers.  The letter said there are 25 students within 2 miles of Liberty and 682 students within two miles of the Brownsboro school.  Later, different numbers were discovered by the district and the two mile student population for Brownsboro was corrected to 38.  But there's been no effort to set the record straight in a public forum and no letter went out to all district employees to correct this error.  Now, the ironic part is that this letter was criticizing one of the challengers for not being informed about the district.   

This is an perfect example of why I say that this board has lost the confidence of the community.  If the board had followed proper protocol in some of these land purchases and actually communicated with the voters, much the wasted time, money, and effort could have been avoided.  If you have not followed the story for the past six years, it goes well beyond Brownsboro.  Click here for the short version  There is a whole list of other sites that were purchased for specific purposes and then "abandoned" after the board found that the cost to develop them was too high or the Transportation Department rejected them as suitable sites for school facilities.The cost of these tracts runs into the millions of dollars.  You are paying for that.  The board exacerbates these bad decisions by ignoring the input of the community.

 

The board held at least one town hall meeting at which the opposition to Brownsboro was substantial.  It has since decided to discontinue the subsequent town hall meetings.When I learned of the land purchases and the lack of communication, I too began to follow the board more closely.  My inquiries led to more questions  than answers.  I even applied for the open fifth division position when it was vacated in August 2011. I thought that I could get answers to my own questions and those of the community.  My intention, had I been appointed by the three-member committee of non-Oldham folks, was to try to make the board more responsive, and encourage greater participation and interest on the part of the community.  I wanted to do several specific things: 

1.  Make sure that the number one priority of the board is academics.
2.  Post  every vote of the board members on the district web site and keep them there through the entire term of that board member.
3.  Set up a newsletter that would allow anyone to subscribe and get news of upcoming board meetings and past decisions
4.  Insure that the board minutes stay on the web site for more than one month.  These are supposed to be public documents.
5.  Meet frequently with parents, students and voters and REPRESENT THEM instead of blindly following the rest of the board.
6.  Try to get board meetings scheduled at a time when parents can attend.  The meetings start at 4pm when few working people can be there.
7.  Reinstate the town hall meetings and actually listen to the people of Oldham County

When another of the five applicants was chosen for the position, I hoped that we would see some of these measures implemented but that has not been the case.  I have attended most of the board meetings for the past year and my concern has only increased.  Board meetings seem to be arranged to make it difficult for people to fully participate.  The meetings start at 4pm and, every month, the board goes into executive session at 5pm.  The board members have a catered meal provided during the time they're in executive session.  At about 6pm, they come out of executive session.  What working person can get there at 4pm only to waste an hour beginning at 5pm.  They should start at 6 or 7, skip the meal, and go into executive session at the end when others can go home if they choose.  This board arranges meetings to suit the members rather than the community. I've seen no evidence that the current 5th division member has done anything to increase communication with voters, or make the entire board more responsive.  So I'm running.

I intend to SERVE you - as your representative....sent to the board to carry out the will of the people of the Fifth Division.  As a life-long student and educator, I have my own ideas regarding instruction and I'll share those.  But in the end, I will be working for you and will voice your concerns to the board and vote in the interest of all of the students, parents, and tax-payers of the Fifth Division. I intend to be accessible and to provide all the information that I can regarding the intentions of the board.  I'll also provide insight into the reasons for board actions after the fact.  I will reach out to you so you can be a full partner with your schools, teachers, administrators, and the board.

Your involvement is critical to excellence in education.  The first thing to do is become informed.  I'd like to help by offering to speak to any civic group, club, church, or other organization that is concerned about education in a world that is changing before our eyes.  Globalization, technology, and demographics are playing an increasing role in how we must educate our children if we want them to be competitive.

I would also like to meet with you and your neighbors in your own neighborhood.  Let's try something we'll call "the lawn chair round-table".  If you can interest two or three neighbors in meeting on your front lawn, we'll sit down and discuss the schools and your concerns.  I welcome your ideas and insights into how the Board of Education can better serve you.

  Rod Smothers will work with the board and administration to:

  • Insure the continued excellence of Oldham County schools
  • Focus on academic achievement
  • Use resources in the most efficient manner
  • Attract and retain the best teachers WITH COMPETITIVE SALARIES
  • Represent the citizens and students of District Five
  • Provide information and updates to constituents
  • Encourage District Five neighborhood meetings with face-to-face interaction.
  • Seek and WELCOME your input.
  • Serve as YOUR representative on the Board
  • Maintain a logical/objective approach with a community service attitude
  • Apply principals of fiscal conservatism