Tupelo School Board Work Session 04.09.13

Tupelo’s School Board is holding a work session this morning with several presentations on the agenda. They will not be taking any action here, but will meet again at noon and 5 p.m. It is a full day for the school day.

All five board meetings are present, including newly-appointed board member Joe Babb, who is attending his first meeting. Babb will be sworn in during the noon meeting today.

Assistant Superintendent Matthew Dillon will make the first presentation, speaking about the new dual enrollment agreement between Tupelo High School and Itawamba Community College.

Participants will be enrolled at both Tupelo High School and ICC and will receive credit from each. To participate students must have completed 12 high school units with a 2.5 GPA and a minimum ACT composite of 16. It is only open to juniors and seniors. In order to continue in dual enrollment, student must make a C or higher in each course. Dillon said that rule will help protect the students’ college transcripts.

Course offerings will be dictated by course catalog at ICC.

According to an initial survey, Tupelo had 151 students interested in college algebra and 138 interested in English composition.

The college will award a scholarship for $250 for each dual credit course taken at the high school. Students will pay $100 and the high school may provide textbooks in core subject areas only. The rising senior class will be able to get an additional $50 scholarship next year, so they will only need to pay $50 for the course.

Students in this program who get enough hours to be considered a sophomore will not lose out on freshman scholarships. They will be able to transfer these credits to other colleges and universities because ICC is SACS accredited.

The board is expected to sign the official agreement with ICC during their meeting today.

Dillon said this will not replace Advanced Placement. Mississippi’s new accountability model is expected to give schools credit for students who pass AP and dual enrollment courses. Dillon expects the school to offer 26 AP classes next year.Dillon said when district administrators visited schools in Santa Rosa, Fla., during spring break, they studied how schools there were able to incorporate both AP and dual enrollment.

Dillon said these dual enrollment courses will not affect student’s high school GPA or class rank. They didn’t want that to discourage students from enrolling in these courses.

Next Dillon and Julie Hinds will speak about construction projects for this summer.

The Early Childhood Education Center addition, will include a base bid of four classrooms with options to expand to six, eight or 10. She said as the numbers on enrollment come in, they will give the board an idea of the number of classrooms the district may need. Dillon said they will study the numbers to make sure they don’t have a lot of empty classrooms.

Scheduling would include bid opening in July and awarded in August, with construction starting after that and expected to be completed for the 2014-15 school year.

The next project is the expansion of the Tupelo High School cafeteria. That could allow the school to cut lunches from four to three and then increase instructional time. It will also provide outdoor space for meetings and classrooms. Hinds said the bid opening will be later this month. Work will be done during the summer and is expected to be done by July 31 and ready for next school year.

Another project is re-roofing several buildings on the high school campus. Board is expected to vote on those bids today and work would be done during the summer.

Another project is new carpeting at Carver. It would give the school more of an elementary feel and would be easier to clean. Dillon said the city also helped clear some brush off the hill around Carver to give them more visibility around the school.

The district will also replace some old steel windows at Carver.

Another project is reflooring at Milam, replacing flooring new auditorium with a tile floor.

The renovation on the baseball field is under way. Some work was completed before the season and more work will be done soon. Dillon said he has heard good feeback and the work done thus far.

The first phase was the backstop and the press box.

“It will dress it up and make it one of the most impressive 6A facilities in the state,” Dillon said.

Another project will replace the rubber floor in the Tupelo Middle School gym.

They will do some re roofing at Rankin this summer.

Hinds said they are researching an entry card system that will meet Tupelo High School’s needs. Some of the systems they have seen thus far are not good fits for the THS campus. Dillon said they are trying to be good stewards of money and not jump at the first system they see.

10:30 a.m.

Diana Ezell is making a presentation about MDE’s recommendations for state accountability based on state tests taken this year. The MDE has released these recommendations for public content.

Under them, the state will only use the A through F grades. It will transition from labels of “Star,” High Performing,” “Successful,” etc. This past year, it used both sets of ratings.

Quality of Distribution Index cut scores look similar. The QDI is based on the percentage of students who score minimal, proficient and advanced on state tests. They will be:

200-300: A (B, if you don’t meet growth)

166 to 199: B (C, if you don’t meet growth)

133 to 165: C (D, if you don’t meet growth)

100 to 132: D (F, if you don’t meet growth)

0 to 99: F

The graduation rate calculation will be changed. The High School Completion Index, which included credit for certificates and for GEDs, will be dropped. Instead, they will use the 4-year graduation rate. That graduation rate will be added to a school’s QDI to determine its raking. So cut scores for high schools and school districts will be:

280 to 400: A (B, if you don’t meet growth)

246 to 279: B (C, if you don’t meet growth)

213 to 245: C (D, if you don’t meet growth)

180 to 212: D (F, if you don’t meet growth)

Below 180: F

Also, the U.S. history and the science tests will be included in QDI but not in the growth formula. The growth formula will remain the same.

The federal accountability model will also remain the same.


Kay Bishop and Mary Ann Plasencia will make a marketing update.

They’ve held several parent meetings and have participated in community presentations with Kiwanis and Civitans. They expect to do one with North Mississippi Board of Realtors in May and hope to get on Rotary Agenda.

They will host an open house for realtors at Tupelo High School on April 24. The goal is to introduce them to the school and its strengths. They will bus realtors to Tupelo High School on Golden Wave buses.

The district has kept track of media mentions. It has appeared in newspaper stories 709 times since July and on TV 183 times since then. That does not include sports.

The district’s online suggestion box for staff has received 15 suggestions since November. The parent suggestion box has received 28 suggestions since mid March.

Its marketing campaign includes seven new billboards that will go up between now and July. They will shift from the message of the rating. Billboard will include kids and families. Similar to their newspaper ads.

The district will run weekly ads in the Daily Journal through May and every other week through July. Ads will focus on testimonials and progress reports. They appear in Sunday’s Daily Journals They will acknowledge things they need to work on and progress they are making.

Superintendent Gearl Loden also will write regular Sunday columns in the Daily Journal.

The idea came from a group from the Jim Ingram Leadership Institute.

The ads include testimonials from peers in the community. This week’s ad in the Daily Journal featured the Waldrop family.

Billboard messages will be on West Main across from Todd’s, on Gloster near St. James Catholic Church and on McCullough.

The district recently launched parent exit surveys and has gotten 15 responses. It will catalog those to observe trends.

The district is also taking online surveys on dual enrollment/ dual credit and on the block schedule. It will send a survey to Thomas Street Elementary teachers about their expectations for the new principal there.

The district has distributed more than 3,600 honor roll signs. That does not include students who made the honor roll multiple times.

Board members said they have seen the honor roll signs in other communities for Tupelo students who live outside of the city.

WTVA allowed the district to produce a 30-minute show. The Tupelo High School broadcast journalism students helped produce it. It will air the second weekend of every month.

It will air on Saturdays at 5 p.m. and will also air at the food court at the Mall at Barnes Crossing. It will air on ABC WTVA on Saturdays at 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. and on Sundays at 8:30 a.m.

Dillon said one thing that makes the project special is that students are producing it behind the scenes and are also learning from the process.

Bishop said the district has reactivated its Twitter account. It can be found @TupeloSchools. It has 700 followers, she said.

11:15 a.m.

Executive Director of Curriculum Leigh Mobley will present about professional development.

The district will have a professional development institute for four days in May at Tupelo High School. It will use the teacher’s four flex days.

There will be 64 sessions for teachers in the district. There will be sessions for anyone from assistant teacher to coaches to art teachers and gifted teachers.

Out of the 64 sessions, more than 70 percent will be led by district personnel. It will almost be free to the district, she said, because people have volunteered. There will be one session for the Early Childhood Education Center that will cost $3,500 but everything else will be free to the district, she said. The ECEC session is about a new program they will have next year.

People will be able to look over the schedule and chose which sessions to attend. They can sign up online.

11:26 a.m.

Assistant Superintendent Kim Britton is presenting about the Bring Your Own Device program.

“I know it is a culture shift for our students and our community and I’m hoping the information I provide today will clarify the questions you have.”

The cost of the deductable of the MacBook is comparable to price to buy your own device, she said. Deductable had been $250 and recently increased to $500, although the district did not pass that increase on to parents, she said.

At school, each homeroom teacher will have a classroom set of devices. Some will have a set of MacBooks and some will have a set of ChromeBooks. Students will use Google Docs and will save their work to the cloud.

Students will use Evernote for not taking skills and curriculum specialists will work to integrate technology with the curriculum.

At home, students will develop traditional projects. Students without devices will receive textbooks. Chances are if students don’t have devices, they don’t have Internet, Britton said.

Recommended device is ChromeBooks. Anticipated cost to the district to buy the ChromeBooks will be $197,350. That cost includes sets of carts. Those computers will be left at school.

They will monitor it next year and possibly phase it in to seventh grade the following year. Then they could roll it out district wide

Devices could include iPad, Andorid tablet, ChromeBook. Britton said the district likes ChromeBook because of its keyboard and students can access the Classworks program. They cost about $300, she said. It is any type of device that can access the Internet.

Any device can be used under teacher direction, Britton said. Students can’t use the devices when not under the teacher’s direction.

Parents will get a list of specs for the devices.

Loden said the district needs a plan for continuing its digital initiative. The initial plan would be to expand BYOD to seventh grade the following year and keep 1-to-1 at the high school then.

Britton said money on BYOD would be significantly lower than 1 to 1. Also, she said when parents have to pay fines for damages to district laptops, they often express frustration that they can’t use that money for their own device.

Students would be responsible for knowing how to use the device they bring. Teachers will not be expected to deal with technical issues with the devices. But there will be classroom sets of computers students will be able to use if they have trouble with their device. They will be able to save their work to the cloud and access it from different computers.

The district will have 300 MacBooks and 300 ChromeBooks at Milam next year. A few will also be available for students to check out during times when they need to work on the device at home.

Britton: It is a culture shift, but we do believe it is the best thing for our students and the best thing for our district and ultimately we think the students will enjoy it.

11:45 a.m.

The work session has adjourned. The board’s regular meeting will begin at around noon. I will blog about that one in a separate post.