By Leeann Akers - Managing Editor
Nov. 28, 2012 —
After 24 years of service, one Carter County school board member decided that he wouldn’t run again.
“When someone else filed to run, that tickled me,” said Bob Flaugher when he sat down with the Journal-Times on Monday. “I am ready to sit back and enjoy my grandkids.”
In 1988, Flaugher says he ran for a seat on the Carter County Board of Education for all of the wrong reasons.
“My slogan was ‘For the children: first, last and always’,” he recalled. “But this county was really political back then and I was just trying to get my wife a job.”
Flaugher ran against his first cousin, Jim Flaugher, who had served on the board for 12 years.
After his first few months on the board, Flaugher said he learned that some things in the Carter County school system needed to change.
“I wanted to see that all the kids had good buildings,” he said. “We had a lot of mobile units back then and I wanted to make sure that Carter County had schools we could be proud of. I wanted kids to hold their heads up when they talked about where they were from.”
But the district was deep in debt by the time the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) rolled out totally in 1994.
Flaugher said the new system saved Kentucky schools.
“We were running a million dollar deficit,” he remembers. “The KERA allowed for a sales tax increase which gave us the chance to increase our funding.”
Flaugher said he watched several school superintendents come and go but his most memorable moment came when the board decided to close Willard Elementary School.
“I was a student at that school for eight years,” he said. “It was more bitter than sweet to see it close but we made the most of it. We have a fine school at Hitchins but every school needs the community to buy in before you can really get it.”
Flaugher said the conflict over the site of the new Carter City Elementary in early 2011 was reminiscent of his fight to save Willard.
“I am a small school advocate but I can see how we can’t afford the small schools,” Flaugher said. “Still, you have to fight for what you believe in. It’s a shame that we are forced to consolidate.”
He is the author of many colorful remarks during school board meetings, especially when it comes to change orders presented that cost the district money.
With his background in construction, Flaugher said he understands how the game is played.
“I used to make a living doing the same thing with those big state projects,” he said. “I know what they are doing but I think we are just about to wrap these projects up.”
Flaugher said he knows the school system has a long way to go but he is confident that Supt. Ronnie Dotson has things under control.
“He is a true leader,” Flaugher said. “I don’t know if all the people appreciate him or not, but as we see the change I believe everyone will get behind him.
“If you look at us compared to counties around us, our buildings are as nice as you will find,” he said. “Our staff is hard working and dedicated and it shows in the students. I feel like we are in good shape.”
Flaugher said he is proud of the relationships he has with his constituents and appreciates their trust with not only their children but also their tax money.
Although he is retired from construction and plans to spend his time on the farm watching his grandchildren grow, Flaugher hasn’t ruled out a return to politics.
“If needed, I’m just a phone call away,” he said. “It is something you always look at and if it comes down later, I will help clean up if need be. But for now, I am just thankful to the people who allowed me to serve for all of these years.”
Flaugher’s final school board meeting is Dec. 17. Keila Rogers Bender will take his seat in January.
Leeann Akers can be reached at email@example.com or by phone at 474-5101.