Archive for Ashley Ritchie

New School Start Times A Flub For School Board?

Posted in Ashley Ritchie, Beth Griffith, Board Meetings, Board Members, Board of Education (General), Michael Kuduk, Michael McGowan, School Buses, Schools with tags , , , , , , , on May 28, 2014 by Joan Graves

374837_2066137873001_485897450_nI am hearing everyone loud and clear. So, please don’t send me anymore emails in an all caps rage. These school start times are for the birds. No, wait. The birds won’t even be up when the littlest kids are sent out the door.

As I’ve said, many times before this board has been left with a mess to clean up from the previous board. I’m fully aware that this board spends more time making decisions along the lines of, “Is it better to shoot our selves with this gun or stab ourselves with a knife?”  We have people like Judy Hicks to thank for that. However, that doesn’t give them a free pass on all of their choices.

Yes, they were left with an atrocious facility plan they had to clean up but did that lead to this decision about start times?  Well, yes and no.  Yes, because schools had to be closed and others opened because the state refused to allow us the freedom to toss the entire plan out the window and begin again. The state eventually conceded on some items but refused to budge on others. That left us with a less crappy facility plan than we originally had but not a great plan by any means. Now, we have too many kids, in too few of schools, in too large of an area, with too many obstacles for it to make any kind of sense.

I am certain there were many things to consider in making this decision.  But the only true vision of what they have done can be obtained by actually walking in the shoes they forced on our kids feet, especially the little kids.  I challenge every board member, with the exception of Ashley Ritchie (she voted no) and our superintendent Paul Christy, to get on these buses and ride them. Each of them need to be endure the sentence they have placed on our kids. And after they served their time on the bus that’s on the road the longest then go back to the drawing board and come up with a new plan.

While we wait to see if anyone actually has the courage to take up this challenge, I challenge all of you to contact them and tell them exactly what you’ve told me. This board may make ridiculous choices sometimes but I do believe that they will actually listen.

Stand Up Clark County and say no to these new start times

My Final Thought In Song For Tonight’s Meeting

Posted in Ashley Ritchie, Beth Griffith, BJ Swope, Board Meetings, Board Members, Board of Education (General), Deanna Wolfe, Debbie Fatkin, Dr. Michael Kuduk, Elaine Farris, Encouragement, Judy Hicks, Michael Kuduk, Michael McGowan, Point of View, Schools with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 18, 2014 by Joan Graves

keep-calm-and-love-toby-mac  I find the words I long to say to my community in the lyrics of a Toby Mac song.  I ache for our school board struggling to make decisions for the common good of everybody.  But my heart also aches for those, few as they may be, who will feel disappointed.  My prayer is that we all find a way to look beyond ourselves and go back to being the family of a community.  It was Winchester that taught me the meaning of community and forever changed my life.  I pray for us to once again become the family we were meant to be. After all, as Toby Mac says, “If we’re gotta start sometime why not now?”  Well, I’ll let Toby tell you the rest.  Just know I love you Clark County – ALL of you.

If you gotta start somewhere why not here? If you gotta start sometime why not now? If we gotta start somewhere I say here. If we gotta start sometime I say now. Through the fog there is hope in the distance, from cathedrals to third world missions. Love will fall to the earth like a crashing wave!

Tonight’s the night, for the sinners and the saints. Two worlds collide in a beautiful display. It’s all love tonight. When we step across the line, we can sail across the sea to a city with one King. A city on our knees

Tonight could last forever. WE ARE 1 CHOICE FROM TOGETHERas a family. We’re family.
Oh Tonight couldn’t last forever, we are one choice from together. You & me. It’s you and me.
Stand Up Clark County & be that City on our Knees. A city willing to start here and now.

Facility Plan – What Are We Made Of?

Posted in Ashley Ritchie, Beth Griffith, BJ Swope, Board Meetings, Board Members, Board of Education (General), Deanna Wolfe, Debbie Fatkin, Encouragement, In The News, Judy Hicks, Michael Kuduk, Michael McGowan, Point of View, School Board Election 2012, Winchester Sun, WKYT with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2014 by Joan Graves

the-future Tomorrow night the Clark County School Board will vote on which facilities plan to accept.  Each plan has its strength and its weaknesses.  Each plan will make some pleased and leave others mad.  That can be said of any facility plan in any school board room in any town USA.  Clark County will no doubt have double the emotions simply because of all we have been through prior to this point.

Our facility plan drama began years ago with a highly controversial plan cloaked in accusations of wrongdoing and corruption.  From the moment the ink was quietly placed on the contract, the deal immediately began treading water in a pool of innuendo that immediately divided the community.

It had been quite some time since several of those school board members had been challenged so apparently they were under the misguided notion they could do as they pleased.  They simply did what they had always done.  They counted on the community’s outrage to play itself out and citizens to lose their steam.  When instead the community rallied together to fight for the common good of everybody then things changed.

behind clouds  The previous board’s inability then and even now to consider that they made terrible mistakes, disregarded community opinion, failed to weigh all the options or even begin to have the courage to stand up for the least of us, proves how grossly inadequate they were to represent the greatest of us.  Therefore, they brought shame and suspect upon all of their actions most notably the notorious facilities plan.  In an outrageous show of unification, the community made clear their disgust of being muted and voted out the old and in the new.  Now, we turn to a new era.  It’s a new time and opportunity.

This is the first time that any board member, with the exception of Judy Hicks, in this entire facilities plan drama, has taken time to consider all angles.  This board heard the community loud and clear.  They fought the state.  They have labored, sweat, prayed, talked, lost sleep over and contemplated beyond the realms any of us wish to consider.  This board has taken on what everyone wanted changed but few dared to tackle.  This board, with the exception of Judy Hicks, stepped up to the mound in the last inning with everything lined up against them and nothing going for them but an overwhelming desire to take one for the team because it’s the right thing to do.  Could you do it?  I couldn’t.  That’s why I didn’t run for the board.  images (18)

So, on this eve that changes everything I am asking you, Clark County, what are we made of?  This facilities plan is more than about a mere vote on metal and steel.  It’s a vote on the kind of people we are.  Are we selfish people willing to turn on one another if we don’t get our way?  Are we weak people willing to flaunt that our vote won over the plan that didn’t?  Or are we people with backbone, people who reach deep and know that regardless of what tomorrow holds it is a new era?  It’s a time of when we say all that is gone before, matters no more.  We have a board that will never again put our kids or their own reputations on the market to the highest bidder.  There is no more secret meetings, over-paid bureaucrats, over inflated egos or nauseating misuse of the media.

Life has shown us that more often than not to find what is keeping we must first sift through the rubbish.  To find a hidden treasure we must get dirty digging it from the dirt.  To find a diamond we have to travel the blackest coal shafts.  And if we want real gold then we have to spend hours on our knees shaking it from the imposters and fool’s gold surrounding it.  Finding what is real is important but what becomes more important is how do we treat what is authentic when we are not accustom to seeing it?  Now, is our time Clark County.  Stand up for your school board and say we respect your effort you have put into this decision making process – thank you for having the courage to do the job no one else wanted.



New Beginnings – The First 2013 Board Of Education Meeting

Posted in Board Meetings, Board of Education (General), Dr. Michael Kuduk, Judy Hicks, School Board Election 2012 with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 8, 2013 by Joan Graves


Tonight was the first meeting of our newly elected board of education. For anyone not in attendance you missed the excellence of a board united in improving the educational climate we have adapted ourselves to. Should you happen to run into board members within the community be sure to take a moment and stop to thank them for taking on the enormous responsibility of improving the education of our students.

The new board elected their governing body this evening. Previously, Judy Hicks served as chairperson with Debbie Fatkin as vice-chair. For 2013, it will be Dr. Michael Kuduk directing the board by serving as Chairperson. Michael McGowan was elected to serve as vice-chair.

Dr. Kuduk wasted no time getting down to business. One of the first changes he wants to initiate is changing board meetings from once a month to twice a month. When Judy Hicks indicated two Tuesday’s a month would be too much for her work schedule, Ashley Ritchie wisely asked if board meetings had to occur on Tuesdays. They do not, which opened up enormous opportunities for setting days convenient to all. There are still details to hammer out but at this point it appears as though board meetings will be conducted one Tuesday and Thursday of each month.

By increasing the frequency of meetings it provides the board extended time to review and finalize the agenda, as well as provide the community additional time to come before the board with comments and concerns. Board meetings have a history of being extensively long. In June, a board meeting wasn’t adjourned until two in the morning. Many working parents find the extensive length of board meetings a deterrent for their attendance. They simply don’t have the time to work, care for the family and attend a 3-4 hour board meeting. Dr. Kuduk’s proposal will decrease the time commitment for parents, board members and faculty. If you are unable to make a meeting you won’t have to wait an entire month before getting the assistance you need. Tonight’s meeting was for organizational purposes so the regular board meeting will take next week as usual.

During the years I have been attending board meetings it has always been easy to determine who the new board members were. They are often timid and unsure of themselves. That was certainly not the case tonight. Our newly elected officials had no hesitation making motions, seconding them, asking questions or offering recommendations.

Another significant change was inclusion. Several times Dr. Kuduk looked to those in attendance to include them in decisions. He specifically looked to them as the second date for a board meeting was discussed. Involving the community and employees in decision making was highly promoted by Stand Up Clark County so we are well pleased to see the board turning in this direction.

After a tumultuous year, hope, peace and unity reined this evening. This is a board willing to put the needs of the students above their personal ones. This board firmly established that they have done their homework and are well-versed in proper procedure and knowledge of how a successful board conducts themselves.

This is only the very first meeting on the very first day of our educational restoration. It is a new year filled with the promises of what is truly a new beginning. So, Stand Up Clark County because without a doubt, you made it happen.


Stand Up Clark County, Bow & Take A Seat You Won!

Posted in School Board Election 2012 with tags , , , , , , on November 6, 2012 by Joan Graves

Congratulations Ashley Rithie, Michael McGowan and Beth Griffith. I am so amazingly proud of this community. This is what it’s about. This is what it means to be in America. We exposed the corruption and you said enough is enough.

To all of Steve’s supporters thank you. You guys are amazing. You worked tirelessly. I have made so many new friends through this process. And now I can fully admit that I am actually glad Steve didn’t win. I wanted a change in leadership on the board. Steve and I had many long talks about what it would mean to our family. We made the decision to make the sacrifice but if I’m honest I have to say, I’m really glad we don’t have to actually do it. Sometimes God just wants us to be willing to make the sacrifice.

The major message is that the community overwhelmingly voted in Michael McGowan. Voting out incumbant Debbie Fatkin for a little known resident like Michael McGowan speaks volumes. The same can be said of Ashley Ritchie. Her opponent, Deanna Wolfe, was not as instrumental as Debbie but the message was equally clear. This community has had enough. We asked you for change and you gave it. It’s a lesson that is turning heads.

Stand Up Clark County didn’t promote Beth Griffith but we are asking the community to support her now. We want to give Beth all the tools of success and that means throwing our support behind her. In January three of our five board members will be new. On key issues such as closing small schools and combining the middle schools we know three board members are in agreement. We have no reason to think this board will not be successful.

It has been an incredible journey and you all have blessed my life tremendously. I just don’t have the words to express what this night means. This victory has been a looooong time coming. But…..CLARK COUNTY! Take a seat. Your job is done.


What Does Stand Up Clark County Stand For?

Posted in School Board Election 2012 with tags , , , , , on November 4, 2012 by Joan Graves

Stand Up Clark County has undergone many changes over the last year. We have won and we have lost. We have grown in numbers and in strength. Yet, in all the changes our core beliefs remain the same.

We are not in favor of closing small schools. It makes no sense to close the best schools in the county and force them into lower performing schools. The state restrictions on the number of students a school contains does not apply to schools already in existence only to new ones being built.

We do not support combining our middle schools. Experts will tell you the middle school years are some of the most difficult. It is not logical to create one massive middle school when we they aren’t functioning at their highest level independently.

Stand Up Clark County wants technology in our schools. However, our students are in greater need of the basics. Studying by worksheets or online is vastly different from studying from a textbook. Colleges across the country require textbooks. How will our students ever be college ready if they have no experience with the basic tool of a textbook?

Clark County has some of the greatest minds in education. We have amazing teachers doing tremendous things with very little. We need to give them more. Therefore, we are against spending $50 for valet parking, fueling the superintendent’s car, flying around the country and going on retreats twice a year while our teachers are paying for supplies out of their own pockets. Our teachers work for less money, for longer hours, buy their supplies and live terrified of losing their job. That must change. If we aren’t committed to our teachers we have not right to expect them to be committed to us.

We can’t expect a different outcome if we keep doing what we’re doing. The only path to success is change. We have a rare opportunity to change things in a single day. We can vote in three new board members with fresh ideas, dedication and willingness to take on the enormous responsibility of pulling our schools from the mud in which we’ve been stuck.

We are Stand Up Clark County and we are asking you to give us four years of new board members and they will give us four years of school improvement.  On Tuesday Nov. 6 you will walk into the voting booth the same as you’ve always been. But when you push the button for Steve Graves, Ashley Ritchie or Michael McGowan you leave that booth knowing our students are no longer Waiting For Superman.

Stand Up Clark County and save our schools.


12 Days To Go – The Candidate Forum

Posted in Board of Education (General), School Board Election 2012 with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2012 by Joan Graves

We’re less than two weeks away from decision day. Tonight candidates in all of Clark County, not just the school board, will take to the stage to present their platform. They will be joined by Congressman Ben Chandler and his challenger, Andy Barr.

You’ve heard the accusations and seen the evidence. You know the past history of the current board of education. We know our school system has been in decline for the last few years. We know a portion of the plans this board has for our schools and they are wildly unpopular.

Tonight gives you an opportunity to take all that information in your head and compare to what your eyes see. The school board has a policy of not talking with the public unless it’s required by law as it was for the middle school merger. Tonight they will be made to answer at least a few questions.

I ask you all to attend the forum with an open mind. Objectively, weigh the candidates against one another. Voting in anger or to support a friend or family member is a misuse of the voting right so many have died to give us. We must vote for people that we honestly believe will make the greatest positive impact on our students. This isn’t about us. It is about them.

Stand Up Clark County and see truth.

How To Help Bring The Change We All Need For Our Kids

Posted in Board of Education (General), School Board Election 2012 with tags , , , , , , on October 21, 2012 by Joan Graves


Stand Up Clark County is supporting Ashley Ritchie in District 5, Michael McGowan in District 3 and Steve Graves in District 2. Yard Signs are available for each candidate as well as “Stand Up Clark County” signs. If you would like a sign let me know. If you’ve requested a sign and haven’t gotten one yet let me know that too, just to make sure you are on the list.

You can volunteer to help the campaign in a variety of ways including computer work, brochure distribution,  etc. If you’d like to make financial donations send them to 1619 Bypass Road, Suite 116, Winchester, KY 40391. Unless you specify the money is to be used by a specific candidate the money will be distributed evenly between the three candidates. Anonymous donations can be made.

If you have questions or need to contact the campaign committee you can do so through this blog, Facebook, the address above, calling (859)255.5021, faxing (859)759-0674 or emailing A BIG thanks to everyone who shares campaign information on social networking sites. You guys have done a fantastic job with that and we continue to gain followers each time you post.

We encourage you to spread the word about each candidate and Stand Up Clark County by writing a letter to the editor of the Winchester Sun. Stand Up Clark County is the community voice so please continue to send  your thoughts, complaints, or posts you want on this blog.

It’s a great time for CCPS. Stand Up Clark County and reap the rewards of your hard work.


Why The Number One Has More Power Than One Board Member

Posted in Board of Education (General), Deanna Wolfe, Debbie Fatkin, Dr. Michael Kuduk, Elaine Farris, Judy Hicks, School Board Election 2012 with tags , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2012 by Joan Graves

The common theme of the community is a desperate cry for change. People want more from the board of education and they deserve it. Parents want to know their opinions matter. Teachers want to work without fear and students need to know their best educational interest is more important than political games. So, what do we do? Who do we believe?

I keep asking myself how we got here. I know the obvious answer is poor leadership but how did the leadership get placed? How have less than stellar board members been able to retain their seats on this sinking ship for so many years?  I think the most obvious answer is that most of us just don’t want to be a part of the board. The pay is a joke and the headaches many.

Once a board member is seated they tend to retain the position until trouble rears its ugly head. Historically, it has been that as long as there are no huge news making negative events no one runs against current board members. BJ Swope’s position is case in point. He was tapped to run by a citizen’s group formed long before Stand Up Clark County. That group vehemently opposed the building of a new high school. At that time, our board of education was making news for their conduct which resulted in a near brawl on more than one occasion. The goal was to get former board member Minnie Spangler out and they succeeded. But the victory was short lived.

Replacing only one board member doesn’t change anything. A single board member has no power. Even 2 board members can’t accomplish much.  It takes at least 3 board members with common goals and ideas to bring about change.

It’s a unique time in Clark County because we have exactly that. Ashley Ritchie, Michael McGowan and Steve Graves are all like-minded. They are not clones. With their varying personalities and personal experiences combined with their common ideology and goals they will have the majority vote and represent equally our ever changing community. If you add to that the voting history of Dr. Michael Kuduk you get a perfect storm for change. That puts 4 out of 5 board members making decisions with a new focus on our schools. Judy Hicks’ votes, if not in the best interest of our community, will amount to nothing. Because one member has no power.

In the draw of  ballot positions I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Ashley Ritchie, Michael McGowan and Steve Graves all got the number 1 ballot slot. Many people have no idea what district they are in but to get change they really don’t need to. If you live in a district that has a board member up for election on November 6 you will be able to cast a vote. If not, the voting machine won’t allow you to vote in the board race. If you can vote all you need to do is simply, push the first name on the school board ballot and you will send change on it’s way to Clark County Schools. Spread the word to everyone you know that if we want our schools to be number one all we have to do is push it.

Stand Up Clark County for the perfect storm.