Tupelo School Board 01.21.14

Today’s Tupelo School Board meeting is about to begin. All five board members are present.

The School Board is recognizing Joyner Elementary Principal Kim Foster as its Administrator of the Year. Board members are gathering with Foster in the front of the room.

Board member Joe Babb: “When I was asked to say a few words about Ms. Foster today….decided to start by talking about her passion for education.

What sets Ms. Foster apart is her unbridled enthusiasm which belies her great love for education…It is obviously she is well loved by her staff and that enthusiasm carries over to her students.

Babb’s daughter is a student at Joyner. Babb said she feels safe and enjoys the school environment.

Babb said she embodies servant leadership, she was working car pool lines when the thermometer read 8 degrees. In the age of testing and accountability, she makes learning fun for students, he said.

“This is the gift that will sustain them for the years ahead.”

“Thank you for making Joyner such a warm and enriching place for our children.

Tupelo Middle Principal Kristy Luse will speak now.

Luse: I want to tell you about the person I knew when she stepped on the Tupelo Middle campus. She was an administrative intern and she fit right in. She jumped in, made herself part of the staff and was student centered.

She will read from her nomination: She places her school and faculty above personal interests. Her can-do attitude and positive approach is evidence in her smile (when greeting students in the evening and sending them home at night).

Luse speaks of Joyner’s achievement, in earning the Champions of Change award, and the achievement of its feeder school, Rankin.

Teacher Allison McGraw: Said she will share 100 reasons they love Ms. Foster. Notes her humility, dedication, hard work.

I recently read an article posted on a social media site. The topic was not taking credit. The author said nothing limits your ability to achieve great things more than your desire to take credit for what you do. You can accomplish more if you don’t worry about taking credit.

She sees that in Foster. Said Foster cleans the floors, pats students on the back, does things without taking credit.

“She cares for me, she cares for you, but most of all, she cares for the children of this community.”

Foster: “If it wasn’t for Dr. Loden and it wasn’t for each of you, we couldn’t do what we do for these kids. So many of the people who push me aren’t here because they are doing what they do best. It is people like Dr. Luse, our colleagues, and this team here that supports us and pushes us….It takes all of us, from behind the scenes making sure we have each and every component to develop these kids to make our community better…It is incomprehendable, the blessings I have received from you and from this place. Thank you. It is an honor.”

Superintendent Gearl Loden: It is easy to see why she is administrator of the year. In typical Kim Foster fashion, she is giving all of the credit away.”

12:22 p.m.

Assistant Superintendent Matthew Dillon will speak about enrollment and average daily attendance.

The new 63 percent rule was something they faced across the state, he said. He is proud of administrators who provided incentives for students and staff to meet goals for attendance.

Going back to last year, the district began closely monitoring residency through Pam Traylor’s office.

“I’m very pleased with these numbers.”

For October and November, (the two months that determine funding), the district held its own on average daily attendance he said. There was a decline in December due to a lot of illnesses – flu, strep throat, stomach bug. He said that generally comes with cold weather in January and February. (I think the average daily attendance for those months was about 95.5 percent this year compared to about 96 percent last year).

The central office looked at the data building by building to look at trends and where it stands.

With the 63 percent rule, you will see a decline in ADA across the state. I’ve been talking to other districts. But I can’t say enough about our principals and their creativity in making sure our children were in school.

Eddie Prather asks how Tupelo compares to other districts. Loden said right now it is just word of mouth, but he believes most districts will see drops of 1.5 to 2 percent and that Tupelo is down just .5 percent.

12:27 p.m.

Community liaison Mary Ann Plasencia is speaking about the spring 2014 pre-registration. It will begin the week of Feb. 3, she said. Parents will be able to visit the school day between 8 and 3 and volunteers will be available to help with those tours.

They will have digital profiles available about each school; they will give a synopsis of wheat each school offers in three to four minutes. That will be available pre-K to 6th grade.

They also are trying to make selves available to parents who want more information to pass on to prospective families, information about what schools offer and what is happening at schools.

There will be activities between 4:30 and 6:30 at each of the schools, but if a parent can’t come at night, they can come at 8 to 3 at the schools.

12:32 p.m.

Assistant Superintendent Diana Ezell will speak about the Val Ed survey, which Tupelo uses to measure principal performance. She said it is the most widely used survey in the U.S.. It is a 360-degree survey, she said.

There are six core components and six processes used to measure principals. Components include high standards, curriculum, instruction, learning culture, connections to the community and accountability.

They get an individual profile on each category and can look at where they need to grow professionally. It is centered around the skills that make student achievement grow most, Ezell said.

Loden said the district just administered its first round and will have the second round in the spring.

Prather: After you look at the data, will we assist those principals in the areas where they weren’t strong.

Loden: The state requires 360-degree evaluation. Last year they approved the Peabody tool that Tupelo uses. He said the principal develops their own improvement plan and Loden will provide them with resources. Tupelo began using this model last year and it is part of their state evaluation.

Loden likes that it is comprehensive. Staff members give input and it includes work with community members.

Ezell said some schools had almost 80 percent participation, which is good for a survey that can take 45 minutes to complete.

Teachers are given an anonymous ID number that no one else knows.



Ezell will present discipline data from first semester. Infraction numbers rose this year. She said they changed bus referals and referrals from the classroom. In the past there were minor infractions, four before they go to the office. That has been reduced to three, so students are sent to the office quicker.

Major infractions for 11-12 948…it dropped to 362 last year but it up a little (I think 394) this year.

Minor infractions rose from 5771 last year to 6660 this year

Board member Sherry Davis asks how they interpret that. Ezell said she thinks the students are being reported earlier than they were before. Loden said part of it is the trust factor, teachers feel free that they can report it. He said they feel comfortable that major infractions is below 400 when it was close to 1,000 two years ago.

I feel like overall we have a good grasp. I was alarmed when I saw we were up overall, so I had Dr. Ezell drill down and put out feelers. Said it seems like in schools teachers feel comfortable with the discipline.

Ezell said from her conversations, it seems like teachers feel they are getting the support they need.


12:42 p.m.

Testing coordinator Lea Johnson will report results from the common assessments.

She has data from last March and from this past December. She said even though the district hasn’t covered as much information this year, its scores are close to where they were at that time. She said both tests were comprehensive, covering everything the students should know by the end of the year (that helps teachers see what skills they won’t need to spend as much time covering). She said that even though they hadn’t covered as much material, the scores were close.

A couple of concerns are eighth-grade math and third-grade English/ language arts. They are looking at that but overall they are pleased and feel like they are on the right track and where they need to be with MCT testing.

Loden: They are in limbo with Common Core this year. They are blending the Common Core and the current state standards.

Loden said third graders have been taught Core all along but now they are being tested on the MCT so there are gap skills they have to cover. He said Milam scores are really strong. He said one thing that hurts eighth-grade math is that some of the strongest 8th grade students are taking algebra and are not taking the eighth-grade math test.

Loden said in the new model science and history will count a lot more so they are focusing on those areas.

Loden said in math there were some items that weren’t supposed to be covered until the third quarter that the students already know. So they can spend more time on other items instead.

12:50 p.m.

Athletic director Andy Schoggin will make a presentation.

He said student athletes are near and dear to his heart. He provides a report to the board that shows the championships won by cross county, swimming, softball, football and cheerleading (includes district, north half and state titles).

The next page shows team grade-point averages for the first semester. Example, football 91 students and 3.24 GPA. Cross Country, 106 students. Boys GPA is 3.58 and girls is 4.0.

We are beyond pleased. It shows our coaches highlight and emphasize the student athlete aspect of athletics.

To be recognized as a team by MHSAA, team needs to have a 3.0 GPA. He said no other school he has been associated with would have similar results.

537 students are in varsity athletics, more than 25 percent of student population, he said.

Track and archery are not included because they are still having tryouts for those sports.

All of these teams will receive recognition for being scholar athlete teams.

Loden: School has 20 teams, the lowest GPA is 3.18 and highest is girls cross country, 61 girls, 4.0 GPA.

Prather: This is impressive, to have this many student athletes and this high of GPA.

12:56 p.m.

Finance director Linda Pannell is presenting an update on the district’s audit. She said the first draft should be sent to Jackson during the first week of February. She said it is going a lot faster than it has in the past.

12:57 p.m.

Board will consider consent agenda: includes charter bus service, donations, permission to submit grant, permission to add and delete assets, student transfer report, NMMC emergency plan and a delayed start schedule (for snow days). Board approves consent agenda.

12:59 p.m.

Board approves the docket of claims.

1:00 p.m.

Pannell will make a presentation about new state requirements for monthly finance reports. Bank statements are required to be reconciled within 30 days and presented to the board at the next meeting.

The second report is a statement of revenues and expenditures and the budget comparison.

The third is a cash flow report, which the district has done in the past.
The last one is a combined balance sheet, it combines all funds general and special revenue. It does not include debt or construction.

The board approves the financial reports.

1:08 p.m.

The board will vote on four student discipline cases. Board approves administration’s recommendation on all four cases.

1:12 p.m.

Personnel director Jim Turner has two reports. One is a job description for a new position, a permanent substitute teacher. That will allow them to offer benefits to those who work more than 30 hours per week. The job description would allow for future hiring.

Board approves the job description.

Turner now will present the personnel report. It includes five staff members receiving National Board certification. That gives the district 16 percent of its staff holding national board certification, Turner said.

Board approves the licensed staff report.

1:17 p.m.

Loden has several miscellaneous items.

Loden notes that one of the items in the personnel report was to promote Early Childhood Education Center Lead Teacher Anita Buchanan to the position of principal. That will put her on a 240-day contract.

Loden said that shows the district’s commitment to early childhood education. He said that is a big day for the district.

1:21 p.m.

Ezell is making a presentation about the new school calendar. There are two drafts. One has a traditional spring break and one combines spring break with Easter. School will start and end on the same day under both. She said feedback is 50-50. Both drafts include Labor Day.

The draft with the combined calendar picks up president’s day.

Hudson said that aligning spring break with Ole Miss and Mississippi State has been helpful. Ezell said the traditional one is aligned with MSU but Ole Miss hasn’t announced its spring break for next year yet. Ezell said usually all of the colleges have their spring break during the same week.

1:23 p.m.

Communications director Kay Bishop will talk about the honor roll. For first 9-weeks, they had 3,607 students. 4,155 total for either first or second nine weeks or both. 47 percent of student body were on the honor roll for the first nine weeks and it rose to 57 percent when you combine first and second 9-weeks. Principal’s honor roll is A/B and superintendent’s is all As.

Loden: The state board approved the new accountability model last Friday and the Lea Johnson will make a presentation about it next week.

1:25 p.m.

At the next meeting, the district will recognize its teacher of the year, will provide updates on its assistant principal development program and its new teacher induction.

1:26 p.m.

Board votes to go into executive session. They will discuss the superintendent’s mid-year evaluation.