To the editor:
In this month’s reporting, you referenced details of your interview with John Paul Amis, including his animosity toward board member Charlene Miller, and his “good retirement.” As we are aware, the current contract dated back to July 1, 2006. Over and above the base salary of $148,000, as previously detailed, we paid his retirement, his major-medical, family health and dental, whole-life insurance premium, along with matching 5 percent of income by annuity, capped with free vehicle and gas card.
The above benefits place his total compensation package well in excess of $200,000. We have 4,000 students. One urban northern Kentucky school district superintendent with student population of 33,000 students is compensated at $132,000 annually. In your recent interview, Mr. Amis referenced his “good retirement.” In dollars and cents, it can indeed, be described as “good.”
It cannot be undone. Our money and time can never be recovered and applied to its proper purpose of educating children. The huge retirement benefit flowing from KTRS to his account until the day of his departure from this life cannot be staunched. The continued solvency of many retirement funds nationwide are in serious jeopardy today because of the drain created by such self-serving, unethical practices, while teachers leaving after three decades of hard effort survive on a comparative pittance. You may call it undeserving, unfair, or unearned, but it is done.
Our goal must be new direction. The important point to keep in mind — Chairman Combs led the board in sanctioning all contracts, including that one.
John Hagee, in 1983’s “Day of Deception,” wrote, “We voted in godless school boards and sat at home while they held their meetings. We fed the monster and today we are its prisoner!” For 33 years, John “Punkin” Combs chaired the Perry County school board. Today, 33 years later, his back trail is littered with bitter, hate-filled, used up, forever-disgraced castaways who sold out the children along with their own reputations and integrity, for position, money or some other form of privilege. John Paul Amis is just another one of many.
For us, the collateral damage remains in the form of generations of adults and children, denied functional education and training and handicapped for life - condemned to a continuing cycle of intellectual poverty (which translates to financial poverty, and hopelessness) inflicted by a Soviet-style, Kremlin-like political machine that fed the membership lavishly, but sentenced much of the rest of population to abject poverty. We did indeed, through our silence, feed the monster!
Chairman Combs hand-picked John Paul Amis, leaving a remaining field of very competent, experienced educator /administrators, none of whom were candidates to prostrate themselves to a petty, Chicago-style politician. I was there. I remember well. Like the turtle in the slowly-warming kettle, we remained passive. From the gym floor and ISD to the superintendency, we reaped a very predictable harvest — the Amis career culminating with the now-discredited KSBA Superintendent of the Year Award, followed quickly by his widely-celebrated, well-deserved, forced retirement.
You recently editorialized that Amis’ legacy could be the numerous facility construction projects carried out over his 18-year career, from which one might conclude that he missed a more successful calling in architecture or construction. It also brings to mind a past superintendent in the region who once remarked without further explanation that, “if you don’t build something at least every five years, you just can’t make any money.”
The point of all the above is that Chairman Combs is ultimately responsible for the disastrous state of Perry schools, and he, no less than Mr. Amis, must be held accountable. With no room to equivocate, he supported the removal of John Paul Amis. One dissenting vote held no clout. As supported by the above, he deserves no special consideration for that vote. We are setting a new sail in a positive direction. He has a vote, but by no means should he continue to chair the board and control the agenda. At this point, he is analogous to a reformed drug addict needing to be restrained from his addiction. The board should now select a new chairperson, willing and able to lead, with the right motives, and untouched by blind acceptance of, or participation in, past scandalous episodes. Within those parameters, they should decide. They now hold in their hands a landmark opportunity to be heroic figures, and to make a contribution to Perry Countians that may remain unparalleled for generations, all by just doing the right thing.
And finally, let the word go forth. There will be a search committee for the new superintendent. Poor resumes, brown baggers, and anyone else looking for a continuation of past corrupt, destructive practices, need not apply. They will be met at the door. I left the ballot. We did not leave the county.
Eddie N. Campbell,
Lost Creek, Ky.