Sunday, February 01, 2015

The EDUCATION Racket

Ripoffs of taxpayers are routine in Kentucky in every government department, both local and state. They're possible because legislative bodies and/or other entities such as school boards are empowered to tax citizens, who often don't notice how they're manipulated. Recent shenanigans in every entity from the airport board to those outfits ostensibly serving towns and counties (Bluegrass District something or other, for instance) have been egregious, especially, in granting inflated salaries for the anglers who can work the systems.

Public education systems are ripe for ripoff. Case in point: State Auditor Edelen found long ago that the administration of the Lexington/Fayette County School System had so messed-up its finance-arrangement that the school-board was forced to hire someone to straighten it out. Firing the perpetrators of the mess might have been appropriate but that didn't happen. Kyna Koch was hired months ago as a consultant to help do the job.

Alas...the system is in such a mess that it hasn't been fixed, so Ms. Koch will be paid $10,000 a month through June to get this done. Predictably—Ms. Koch, apparently no longer just a “consultant,” has been given a title for her new “temporary” job: Administrative Services Senior Director. Nice work if you can get it...but a sharp MBA grad at UK or certified CPA could probably straighten out the mess in a month for a song. The job hasn't been advertised for perhaps less cost, but so what!

Only in education Kentucky-style could such an important official have as a task (probably her main task), as reported in the Lexington Herald-Leader of 30 January, helping two employees to make the “financial picture really sound.” Really? Edelen described the relationship between the budget director and the finance director as “toxic,” so Koch's job is to get them to at least speak and okay the official spreadsheet. Egad! What happens if the toxicity remains? Firing either of them would be impossible, lawsuits being routine, with the school-board losing every time.

Education often equals greed and graft. The law concerning the president of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education: “The president shall be compensated on a basis in excess of the base salary of any president of a Kentucky public university. The council shall set the salary of the president, which shall be exempt from state employee salary limitations as set forth in KRS 64.640.” The CPE administrator's credentials (or lack) matter not a whit vis-a-vis salary.

University of Kentucky President Capilouto's base salary, perhaps the highest and last adjusted in September 2014, is $535,000 plus $150,000 in bonuses, so CPE President King must be paid more than $535,000 or more than $685,000, depending upon the whim of the CPE council. Whether the housing and automobiles and country club memberships are also counted could apply. Who knows? The Fayette County School superintendent is worth at least a quarter-million per year, while teachers average around $50,326 (2013). The point: Administrators are grossly overpaid, though not to the extent of assistant football/basketball coaches at UK, who make better than half-a-mil annually and with perks probably approach $600,000—in the name of education.

Jay Box, newly installed president of KCTCS (community colleges) should gripe because he's being paid less than his predecessor, who was the highest paid community-college president in the whole nation. Box will make only $345,000, while his predecessor made $328,326, plus a $78,000 bonus, a $90,000 housing allowance (okay, rent is high these days), and a $43,000 car allowance...total: $539,326. In addition, Box's predecessor, Michael McCall, will make another $328,326 as president emeritus in 2015 for doing nothing...almost $27,400 a month, more than many folks make in a year of actual work. Should Box sue?

After just 18 months on the job, UK Provost Christine Riordan resigned effective 31 December 2014 to take another position far from Kentucky. Predictably, she is being paid $35,000 a month in absentia by the taxpayers through June (maybe longer) ostensibly to finish important work that no one else at UK is smart enough to handle. She will be an “executive adviser.” Get the point?

Education is the right racket for gaming the system. Eight education service-centers were part of the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990 (pork-barrel records set), with some 8 or 9 top professionals at each site, if memory serves, making top salaries to help local systems escape pedagogical nihilism. Very costly, they didn't work and were finally rescinded, but were examples of education-waste on a grand scale. It's called system-salary-sucking.

And so it goes.
Jim Clark

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