Archive for Michael McGowan

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.



Perspective – The Missing Ingredient From Last Night’s Board Meeting

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on March 20, 2013 by Joan Graves

After watching the board meeting online my single thought is one of utter sadness. Adults behaving poorly with other adults is bad enough but to do so in front of kids is worse. We can reveiw all the numbers we want, implement the greatest curriculum and build schools made of gold but until we respect one another we will never succeed. And when we don’t succeed it is our kids that pay the highest price.

Once again, it was a fight over the middle school merger. In November this same topic was pivitol in the election of new board members. Ashley Ritchie and Michael McGowan made it clear they were oppossed to the merger and they won their seats by an overwhelming majority. That should be ringing in everyone’s ears.   

This community has left no doubt that the majority is against this facilities plan. So, why is it still even being discussed? We’ve been warned of dire consequences if we don’t accept the facilities plan. A more important question is; have we measured the consequences of not going through with the plan against the consequences of accepting it? 

This entire problem is a direct result of the previous board going against the community’s wishes and purchasing the land on which the new high school is being built. Because that board refused to listen to the majority then, they created this problem now. For every action there is a reaction and it’s time we start making decisions based on our future not our past.

Trying to scare the community into a decision based on loose, ill-defined repercussions without presenting all the options is just wrong. The obligation of our school leaders is to listen to the community. When conflict arises it is their responsibility to present all sides in a clear, neutral manner. As a board member you are not there to represent yourself. You are there to give us all the facts and then taper your vote to fit the majority opinion of your constituents.  Why is that so complicated? The decision is ours.   

For months we’ve heard how there is no way we can get out of this facilities contract with the state. But last night, board attorney Henry Rosenthal, shot holes in that theory when he said the state would allow us to back out. The four reasons he stated as cause for the state to reconsider were; a disaster, a change in enrollment, a change in curriculum or an unforeseen event. Why have we not heard that before? Why have we been told the merger cannot be stopped due to the contract when our own attorney says it can?  I’m not sure which is more frightening board members stating their opinion as fact without first checking to see if the contract could be broken or board members that knew we could get out of it but lied for their own personal reasons. Whatever the case, we all know now.

Three board members have heard the community loud and clear. They are willing to explore the options of reversing an unwanted plan. A board willing to gather all the evidence, present it to the community then vote according to the majority of their constituents will always be remembered as a board of the people. We should never underestimate the power of listening to the people.

 On behalf of this community, I am imploring all of our board members to stop pushing old ideas and embark upon new paths. What you most need to understand is that changing your course is not a personal loss it is instead a community win.  

Stand Up Clark County for a new educational landscape.  

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.


Michael McGowan: What We Learned At The Candidate Forum

Posted in Debbie Fatkin, School Board Election 2012 with tags , , , , , on November 1, 2012 by Joan Graves

My son DJ is special needs and non-verbal which makes his health care twice as difficult. Doctors make their best guesses, we try the treatment and see if it works. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. I have tremendous confidence in his doctors which is why it took them awhile to convince me to let another doctor have a chance with DJ. They felt another doctor could provide a view we’ve overlooked. As they explained, sometimes you can’t see the cure for the problem because you’ve been looking for it for too long. They were right. The other doctor was instrumental in finally getting a diagnosis that changed DJ’s life.

That is the same philosophy we need to apply in the school board election. Michael McGowan needs to be our educational second opinion. His lack of experience in education is one of his strongest points. He’s not coming into this campaign with any hidden agendas or special allegiance to an elite few.  He is free to openly examine the board and see what we all may be missing.

Michael is a military man who has served our country in some of the most hostile environments in the world, such as Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  It’s said that America is the world’s police. Therefore, by being military police that makes Michael McGowan the police of the world’s police.

Serving our country has taught Michael the benefits of slow deliberate assessments rather than plunging head first into decisions. He is a fact checker with preparation skills to be envied. He is not afraid to move ahead if need be and he has an uncanny ability to analyze data and people and balance them equally.

In the past our board has shown a tendency toward cliques. Though there is only 5 of them somehow they manage to divide themselves in ways that aren’t beneficial to our students. The military isn’t tolerant of that sort of behavior and taught Michael how to lead and unite people even when they disagreed. Years of dealing with hostile, aggressive enemies has taught him the art of peacekeeping without domination. He is the exact equilibrium our board needs.

Michael McGowan was born to serve. It’s not something he was taught it’s  something he is. He lacks the ability to see anything except what is best for the common good of everybody. He bravely served our country during the dark devastating days of 9/11 with calm, focused determination and commitment. He will do no less for our schools.

If you want more of the same political games, childish cliques, self-centered decisions and deception then vote for Debbie Fatkin. If you want a new perspective on our problems from a researched, logical non-emotional view point then vote Michael McGowan. He stands ready to protect our kids with the same valor he used to protect our country.

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.

Tonight’s Middle School Merger Meeting & Why BJ Swope Didn’t Vote For It

Posted in Board Meetings, Board of Education (General), Documents, Elaine Farris, Emails with tags , , , , , , , on October 23, 2012 by Joan Graves

Tonight's Middle School Merger Meeting & Why BJ Swope Didn't Vote For It

Tonight there was a meeting about the merging of middle schools. Michael McGowan and Steve Graves, candidates for the school board, both eloquently stated their convictions against the merger. Judy Hicks took a hard-nosed approach about not breaking contracts. She fails to remember her contract was first with the community she serves and second to the people we pay.

The theme of the night was parents pleading for the board to slow down and consider all options before blindly plowing ahead. The board was basically listening only because they are required to. The superintendent and boar chair made it clear their minds were made up. Dr. Michael Kuduk voted against the merger. Debbie Fatkin who made a motion for the merger last week didn’t bother to show up. Deanna seconded Debbie’s motion last week be remained silent tonight. That leaves only BJ.

In this email dated September 23, 2010 BJ questions Elaine regarding safety issues of the current GRC building. Two years ago BJ Swope made it clear that his conscience wouldn’t allow for him to place middle schoolers in a building that so many of us already have kids in. The safety violation is never explained. Is it mold? Is it worse?

We don’t know because as BJ clearly states Elaine won’t answer. What we do know is that in the email BJ says he can’t vote to put middle school students in the building and last week he stayed true to his word. Rather than take a stand on it he opted to abstain.

The cry from the parents tonight is clear. What is really behind the rush of this middle school merger? Why is our board so absolutely adamant that this be done right now? Is the rush somehow connected to BJ’s safety concerns? There is more than we know but the great thing is that we have a group of middle school parents able to clearly articulate exactly what’s on their minds. They are willing to invest their time and effort into finding what is truly steering the middle school merger.

Stand Up Clark County and support the middle school parents.