H-L Endorsement Doesn't Sway in FCPS Board Race
Once Fayette County School Board Member Amanda Ferguson got herself "on the bad list" for asking reasonable questions about a bogus report advocating the outsourcing of legal services in the Fayette County schools, she found herself without anyone to talk to. That changed tonight with the election of Attorney Douglas Barnett to the school board. Barnett has been an outspoken critic of the district's student assignment plan.
Add to that the sudden departure of Becky Sagan, and this could become a different board. ...with new math.
Ferguson defeated Realtor Rick Queen, by 500 and change, to win another term representing District 4. Ferguson had distinguished herself as the only board member willing to ask hard questions of Silberman and that didn't go over well with the rest of the team. She has been frozen out.
Doug Barnett squeaked out a victory in District 2 besting Thomas H. Duncan Jr. by two percent. Incumbent Kirk Tinsely, whose tax problems were less of an issue for the Herald-Leader editorial board than they were the voters, finished last. Barnett wants to put Fayette school board meetings on the road and pay for school supplies for all children.
When the H-L reported their endorsements they faulted Ferguson for being an impressive and "engaged parent" volunteer who was "passionate about ensuring every child gets an excellent education" and endorsed Queen. They complained (without any supporting documentation) about some "absences, especially at a public meeting to evaluate the school superintendent." (KSN&C asked Ferguson if she'd like to comment on H-L's claims, but she passed, apparently worried that she might not get fair treatment from a guy with a Rick Queen sign in his yard.)
Then H-L delivered the punch line.
"We do appreciate her willingness to sometimes be a dissenting voice on the
board, such as opposing outsourcing legal work."
Where's the evidence for that?
I think a better argument can be made that the editorial board gets skittish whenever board members show a willingness to challenge the superintendent. They seem to prefer what some KSN&C readers have called "bobbleheads" - Show up, ask easy questions, say "Yes, Stu" a lot. I suspect that characteristic alone cost Ferguson and Barnett the paper's endorsement, but in the end, it didn't matter.
The political math keeps Board Chair John Price and Melissa Bacon aligned. But will Ferguson and Barnett form some kind of alliance? Education Commissioner Terry Holliday will complete the picture when he fills the vacant District 5 seat. Could Stu Silberman end up with a 3-2 board?
In any case, Silberman's contract is secure through 2014. One wonders whether he will be able to advance his agenda with the relative ease he has enjoyed since 2004.