As you all know, Mr. Sparkman loved to play Santa. I can remember as a young boy listening to WSGS for Santa to read my letter and boiling over with excitement when he finally read it. Many years later Mr. Sparkman would play Santa to me one more time. Two days before the CHRISTmas of 2001 our house was completely destroyed by fire. Everything was a total loss and we had no insurance. A couple of days later I was at my dad’s and the phone rang. Santa was on the other end. Although I had never spoken to Mr. Sparkman before I recognized his voice immediately from years of hearing it over the radio. Mr. Sparkman told me that he had heard of our tragedy and wanted to help. He obtained my address and hung up.
A couple of days later I received a very generous gift from him in the mail. Thanks to him my kids did not have to go without CHRISTmas that year. That was the first time I ever spoke to him. The only other time that I ever spoke to him was several years later when I got the chance to thank him personally at the radio station. Mr. Sparkman had never met me but felt compelled to help me and my family. That was the kind of man that he was. To borrow a thought from the old New York Sun’s newspaper article, yes Hazard, there is a Santa Clause, and his name is Ernest Sparkman.
That roaring voice of Santa may be silenced, but the compassion that he had will never die as I try each CHRISTmas not to pay his gift back but to find someone (preferably someone that I do not know) in the same shape that I was and pay it forward. My prayers go out to the Sparkman family.
The Proof is in the pudding
Perry County School Board Members Jerry Stacy and James Ritchie are to be commended for honoring the Perry Schools’ “We Put Kids First” slogan, objecting at the December meeting to the Alternative School Lunch Policy and forcing it to be tabled while Stacy put together an acceptable policy. His plan, adopted almost verbatim at Thursday night’s monthly meeting, thankfully puts the children safely out of reach of persecution for circumstances over which they have no control. The three December supporters clearly demonstrated the danger of blindly approving policy with little consideration for potential consequences.
The same mentality unfortunately prevailed with the four-time approval of Superintendent Amis’ now-annual one-year contract extension, which currently puts his contract expiration at June 30, 2014 instead of the original date of June 30, 2010. Legal or not, that is inherently wrong for several reasons. Case in point, the two above-named dissenting board members should shortly be having input into, and an up-or-down vote on, the selection of the leadership of the district for the next four years, thereby allowing representation of parents and taxpayers of the entire district instead of a select group. It also contributes to a spirit of complacency in the already dismal leadership due to the obvious fact that he essentially lives with a new four-year contract out front while being subjected only to a performance evaluation that rates little more than dress, nice manners, and returning phone calls, eliminating accountability for academic success, financial management, personal conduct, and a host of other leadership issues. The proof is in the pudding.
Moreover, it matters not a whit what other district superintendents are being paid. We are experiencing desperate times - closing schools, reducing personnel, and cutting near vital programs. The current arrangement provides annual raises, automobile, and expense account for an already-disproportionate income. It is after all, a job, and our resources have continually dwindled since he came aboard in 1994. Also, realistically speaking, the infinitesimal contract extension provides bargaining power in the event of negative circumstances which might trigger the need for sudden departure and a lucrative contract buyout - an obvious mutually beneficial arrangement with design to keep a bit in the mouth of a superintendent and reins in the hand of a politically self-serving board chairman - the entire package the fully-matured brain child of an aging, godfather-like politician who realized a dream of power and control over large budgets and the lives of people, but truly had little interest in the real mission of Perry County Schools. Once again. . . The pudding. We should change it . . . For the children.
Eddie N. Campbell
Lost Creek, Ky.