Tupelo school board meeting will begin shortly. Four of the five board members are present. Board President Eddie Prather is not here right now.
Vice President Beth Stone just called the meeting to order. She said she wants to give a special thank you to district employees for a successful opening to the school year. She said Prather will not be here today.
Assistant Superintendent Matthew Dillon is making a presentation about current enrollment, comparing projected enrollment, last year's enrollment and actual enrollment.
Grade K-12, district is up 14 based on projections.
"We were looking to see if there were any major spikes or declines."
Grade 3-5 down 18 based on projections. Milam is down 6, the middle school is down 51 and the high school is down 15.
Average Daily Attendance is based on K-12...it is down 76 based on projections.
I have not yet received a copy of the data to be able to tell you what the numbers are. I will work to track that down, and we will have enrollment numbers in the paper once they become official, usually that is after Labor Day.
Beth Stone asks if the new residency requirements have anything to do with the numbers being down.
Dillon: Im sure that might have something to do with it...We are following that protocol closely to make sure we are serving our kids."
Superintendent Dr. Gearl Loden asks about affadavits.
Dillon said last year there were 386 or 387 at this time. Now there are a little over 200 now. They have an Aug. 31 deadline to work through those.
Testing coordinator Lea Johnson will now resent on the graduation rate, preliminary data.
Johnson: I want to stress, this is considered preliminary and none of it is official until the state school board approves it on Sept. 15.
"For the first time, the graduation rate will not be used this year to determine accountability."
She said a nine-person committee has been formed to look at graduation data and determine if it is fair to use in the accrediation model. Next year it will be put back in the model but maybe in a different form.
Johnson said there are two rates. The federal model uses a 4-year cohort. Kids who started in 08-09 and graduated in May 2012. You need a graduation rate greater than 66 percent or you need to be 10 percent greater than the previous year. The state uses a 5-year cohort.
Tupelo's preliminiary graduation rate is 74.6 for the 4-year cohort. The 5-year cohort is 72.4. It was 70.9 the year before. She said the rate can go up if they find kids who left Tupelo and graduated somewhere else.
Johnson said with a new program, the district has a tighter way to track its students so it doesn't lose them.
"We're nowhere near where we want to be. I'm not going to sugar coat that. We are lower than the state and we don't want to be there. But we have such forward momentum...I think we're going to see a big change this year. I really do.
"We'd love to be like Clinton and have 85 percent. We'd love to get there."
Loden talks about historical data for graduation. He said the highest U.S. graduation rate was in the 1970s, 76 percent when graduation standards were lower (no state tests and fewer credits required).
"When you are serving all of your children and increasing the rigor, you may flat line," Loden said.
Johnson: District has put in place a couple of things this year. Graduation coaches and other support staff. It is using the Accountability Analyzer program to better track students. She also said the switch to block schedule will help.
Board member Rob Hudson asks for more about what the district is doing to improve its graduation rate.
Johnson mentions assistant principal Niki Peel calling parents of at-risk students. She said the THS testing coordinator is working hard to schedule re-tests for students who have not passed the state test.
Loden said the graduation coach has been making home visits, he said Peel is monitoring student absences and he said retired teachers have been helping students who are struggling to pass the state test.
Johnson said last year six former seniors who didn't pass the state test came back and passed the test so they were able to graduate. Dillon said the district is working with some students in a similar situation this year. He said some teachers are mentoring students to make sure they stay on track throughout the year.
Loden: "One thing we are trying to massage, passing on the state test is high basic. The odds are against someone massing the subject area test, if they are not proficient on the MCT2 tests."
Community liasion Mary Ann Plascencia will present on a draft for district-wide report cards.
Plascencia said this has gone through several iterations. They started with school-wide report cards. This is a consolidation of those iterations.
"We are trying to capture what we think are critical elements to keep track of, to keep our eye on those district goals."
Some of the information comes from state report cards and NCLB report cards and some is specific to TPSD.
It includes a snapshot of students in the district, information on teachers (attendance, experience, credentials, how well TPSD has done recruiting minority teachers and how often the district uses substitute teachers), graduation rate, QDI, ranking, where the district ranks out of 152 districts, ACT information.
"We are hoping to capture all of this on a three-year trend."
On second page, is information about schools. Elementary grades will focus on reading and math and Classworks and another assessment. Prek-K will look at assesments given at beginning and end of year.
Data will also be broken out by subgroups.
In upper grades, district will calculate based on QDI by subgroup and whether or not 95 percent of students took the assessment, MCT2. In high school, it would be based on subject area test.
"We tried to make this as accessible as possible to everyone."
Loden: "I'd like to elaborate on QDI rank. Even though state doesn't rank us officially but you can look at the QDI and where we rank and how we move."
Loden: "We're excited about the information. As we get into this, I'm sure we'l have to have some changes and additions and deletions."
Board member Amy Heyer asks how the district will use it. Loden said they can post them at different places across the district and on the website.
Amy Heyer: "It is a good tool for transparency."
Plascencia: "We look forward to brining this to you again at a later date."
Board is discussing consent agenda. Board adopts consent agenda.
Board approves docket of claims
Personnel director Jim Turner presents personnel report. Board accepts personnel report.
Loden is now making a superintenent's report.
He said that beginning in September, the district will provide an average daily attendance report and an enrollment report. He said the district will point out any trends in the data. They will also present a report on free- and reduced-lunch rate.
Also, in honor of employee birthdays, the district will provide a sheet cake birthday cake at each of its schools on payday of each month.
"They'll know on pay day, it is time for a treat as a way to say thanks from the board and the district."
Loden said the district has released about 2,500 yard signs. Also, at the end of each 9-weeks, students on the honor roll will receive a sign to put in their yards.
Loden said the district is surveying its students about the opening of school. It will soon survey teachers and parents. It will do the parent surveys after all of the open houses.
At the next board meeting, the district will ask the board to revise the calendar. The district would like to reduce the number of 60-percent days. In order to feed all of the high school students, it takes all day and you lose a lot of instructional time, he said.
The district will have IE day and a parent conference day and will then go back to a traditional schedule. Plus, Loden said, the state will only allow two 60-percent days next year.
Mary Ann Plascencia is presenting on board goals. She said an outsider would wonder, who is watching whether these goals are being met. She said there is a real effort being made.
Plasencia: "Just the meetings Dr. Loden intends to have and is having with principals on a regular basis will be mindful of whether we are meeting these goals, and everyone having an eye on these goals will be very fruitful."
Plascencia said the goals will be displayed publicly throughout the district.
Plascencia: "I'm just real excited about this. I hope we meet every one of these indicators."
Board member Rob Hudson said some of the goals are easy to measure and some of them aren't. Most of the one that aren't are task-oriented. Plascencia said some of those can be met with various processes that will be initiated.
Hudson: "The goals were put togehter wehre there is not much fluff in them at all. The tasks that are presented would most likely lead us to improvement."
Hudson: "I do have a sense, Dr. Loden, that you ahve the goal built in to the way we operate our district. I don't feel like this is just writing goals for the sake of writing goals."
Board adopts the district's goals. We will soon have more details on these goals in the paper.
Finance Director Linda Pannell said 55 mills was not going to bring in what the district's estimate was. She is presenting the board with a revised budget resolution. The general operating request has been lowered by $104,000. There was some money Pannell had not included in the initial because she knew the budget was an estimate. She said the revised budget will only have $4,000 less in revenue.
The board approves the revised resolution.
Board is discussing future agenda topics. Hudson asks for an update on the Councils of Excellence.
Loden said the district will have its test security and safety plan at its next meeting.
There is no need for an executive session.
The board adjorns at 1:01 p.m.
Loden asks the board, if the 57-meeting is a record. I'd say it may be the shortest one I've attended.