Tupelo School Board 08.12.14

Today’s School Board meeting will begin shortly at the Hancock Leadership Center. Check back for updates.

Among the items on today’s agenda is a presentation about a new Advanced Placement capstone program to be offered at Tupelo High School. The board also is expected to adopt its budget for the new fiscal year.

Other presentations include updates on the start of school, on the summer curriculum writing project and on new teacher orientation. Athletic director Andy Schoggin will give an update on the installation of blue turf at Tupelo High and executive director of operations Andy Cantrell will give one on summer construction projects.

12:18 p.m.

All five board members are present and the meeting has begun.

Board President Rob Hudson: “Thank you for all of the hard work you’ve done between the time school let out and school begun. I have a sense of the hard work you did while the rest of us were enjoying the summer, and I think it is paying off.”

Board approves the agenda. They approve minutes from the July 22 regular meeting and from the July 22 budget hearing.


Executive director of curriculum and instruction Leigh Mobley will make a presentation about summer curriculum work.

They offered a lot of teacher training at the beginning of school, Mobley said. Topics included math NISL, Write to Learn, Common Core strategies, etc.

There are two sessions tomorrow on MSTAR, the teacher evaluation program. Several other sessions on other topics are scheduled in the coming weeks, Mobley said.

The PD360 website that the district has used over the last several years for teachers to watch videos, get training and earn CEUs is still available. It is now offered through EdIvation.

Mobley said the district was going to have James Mason, MDE’s head of assessments and Tupelo native, come to address teachers, but they learned this morning that he is retiring.

Board member Eddie Prather asks how much teacher feedback they receive on the training. Mobley said they get a lot of it through online surveys. By having anonymous surveys they get more frank feedback, she said.

Hudson asks about the nature of the feedback. Mobley said teachers asked why they didn’t offer something similar to May institute at the beginning of the year. She said the training at the beginning of the year is more focused on implementing new programs. Other feedback involved having more food or coffee available, Mobley said.

12:29 p.m.

Assistant Superintendent Eddie Peasant and THS Principal Jason Harris will speak about Advanced Placement and dual enrollment courses.

(I will clean this part up as soon as I’m able)

AP enrollment is up to 980 seats this year. In 2012-13, it was 849 seats. Last year, it was 784. 18 AP courses this year.

For dual enrollment program, have 483 students enrolled versus 93 last year. 10 dual credit classes. This is the second year the school has offered dual enrollment.

Harris said students can come out of Tupelo High School now with up to 12 English credits.

Harris: “Today I’m pleased to present something very new from the College Board. It is our AP Capstone program.”

Equips students iwth innovative research, teamwork and communication skills valued by colleges. IT will launch this year in 130 schools world wide. Tupelo is one of 220 schools world wide that will begin next fall. It is the only one in Mississippi. Three were chosen in TN, one in NC, two in GA, none in LA, none in AR.

Harris: “We are very pleased to be one of the hgih schools selected.

This porgoram empowers students to synthesize material from multiple perspectives….

One of the things I was rpiud of when we paplied for this and were accepted, this is our seniro progject that all of ur kdis do, but on steroids…All of our seniors are doing what the college Board has indentified kids need to focus on.”

The structure is a two course sequnece. Take AP seminar, a team-proejct, presentiona, research based essay. And AP research, year two. Reseach, documnetional, thesis and presentation/ defense.

Students who earn scores of 3 or higher on eahc of these corusea nd ahve foru additional AP exams will ahve an AP Capstone diploma. Similar to an IB, HArris said.

Harris: All of the IVy Leagues have endorsed this. tHey are very rpidu. We are trying to work out with University of Mississippi and Mississippi STate and other Mississippi schools becuase this progrma is very new.

Courses would be avabilble for sutdnets at multipel grade levles. No specific eligibility requirements.

Harris: “We are very pleased to be one of the schools selected. Next year there will onyl be one of 359 world wide and we are proud to be one of the ones chosen.”

Board member Sherry Davis asks how this will work with senior project. Harris said probably some of these students would be exempt from senior project, since this is a year-long project. They might be able to use it to solve real-world issues happening in the local community.”

Superintendent Gearl Loden said this would start next school year.

Harris: WE are very excited.

Board member Joe Babb: COuld they do it at any point in their high school career.

Harris said they havne’t made a final decision on that. Probably in sophomore year could do research and then the seminar. Or maybe stary in junior year. Have to see how it would fit in the master schedule since with the rigor of the course, it would be a year-long course.

Harris: It would be very beneficial for the students who get that diploma because IVy LEague schools and toehrs would value that…Said they would ahve to build other AP schools aroudn that.

Board member Kenneth Wheeler asks why Tupelo High was selected.

Harris said they weren’t told why they were selected. SAid it was an extensive application. Said Dr. April Fryar helped with it. He thinks track record of senior project helped, as did one-to-one initiative. Application talked about importance of student technology. The fact that we already do a senior project, our kids were already somewhat acclimated to that, Harris said. Also said the school’s history with many AP offerings probably helped.

Harris: We will take this fall to start ironing things out so come subject selection (for student schedules next year), it will be out there for students to choose. They will send teachers for training.

Harris said they recommend not using a core subject teacher for this. They recommend using media specialist. Harris said they are still working out who will teach it and who they can send to training.

Loden said that the school has done a good job of increasing its enrollment in AP and dual enrollment courses this year. Now it is working on increasing the number of students who take the AP test and in raising the scores.


12:43 p.m.

Eddie Moore from the curriculum office and Assistant Superintendent Kim Britton will speak about new teacher orientation.

69 participated. The first day of training focuses on the principles of effective teaching model. Talked about instructional strategies of Common Core and using data to drive instruction.

The second day, elementary focused on Reading Street, Envision Math and Common Core. Secondary focused on Common Core, close reading and Write to Learn. In the afternoon, they all talked about Google Drive and SAMs.

They will have a follow-up in October and help them with areas that need adjustment. Another follow-up will be in February. They will set agendas for those based on feedback from surveys of participants and from principals.

Britton will talk about mentors. Said last year when they surveyed new teacehrs, the survey showed mentors was inconsistent from building to building. During MAy Institute, mentors were chosen by principals. PAtti Hosch and Julie Maddox trained the mentors on how to work with the new teachers’ specific needs. Britton said they will have a follow-up training for mentors of teachers new to the profession.

Hudson: Of the 69 who were considered new teacehrs (new to the district) what percentage were first-year teachers?

Moore: I don’t have the exact number. I think aobut 25 percent were new to the profession.

Britton they will have more surveys throughout the year to stay aware of waht new  teachers need.

12:48 p.m.

Various departemnts will make reports about the beginning of school

Assistant Superintendent Eddie Peasant: We had a great first week.

Peasant said the middle school got off to a great start. On the first day, he went there during dismissal and the car lines were very long. But he said there is a good correlation between long car lines and parental involvement, so that is a good thing.

On the second day of school, he was touring the building when an adminstrator said there was a gas leak at the school. They contacted the peopkle who needed to be contacted and evacuated the studnets about 9:30. District maintenance and ATMOS checked out the leaks, and Loden and Cantrell were there. They had the kids back into class at 9:55 and sent information out to parents. “Everything was good there. The teachers and students did a good job of evacuating and getting back to class.”  He s

He also was there on Friday and the fire alarm went off. Principal Dr. Kristy Luse checked montior and said it was in a part of building with no students so they went to check it out and determined the system was faulty.

Peasant said the high school had a great first day. Senior class did its traditinal parade in and it went well. Harris and his staff allowed the snieors to do thier thing but kept it under control and got the kids in and everyone was there by the tardy bell.

On the first day at the high school and middle school there were lines of people who hadn’t registered before or proven residency but the counselors did a great job of getting those lines cleared up before noon, PEasant said.

He said HArris looked at some traffic issues in the morning and that the city has made some adjustments to the traffic signal which has smoothed it out. SAid a lot of it was first-week adjustments and it is better with those adjustments.

PEasant said Mr. Harmon has gone a great job of getting things started at the Filmore Center. They are working on the PLATO program and he is trying to prepare them for their returns to their home schools.

12:55 p.m.

Assistant Superintendent Kim Britton said grades 3-6 are off to a fantastic start. Said Meet Your Teacher day was a huge success. Rankin, Pierce Street and Milam each have new principals, Britton said, but they all are running smoothly as if those principals had been there for years.

She said they have ordered the Chromebooks for those schools. She doesn’t know yet when they will arrive.

12:57 p.m.

Assistant Superintendent Diana Ezell will speak about K-2, gifted, special education and transportation. She said the opening of school at K-2 went really well. They had more than 70-percent attendance at the open house and got positive feedback that it went really well.

District is serving 892 gifted students with a lot of referrals in place, so they will be adding numbers. It has 967 special education students, and those numbers will also go up. They were busing  3,113 and they were few glitches. They are running 75 buses.

12:59 p.m.

Finance director Linda Pannell will speak about ad valorem collections. She said the district received slightly more than it had anticipated.

12:59 p.m.

The board now will discuss the consent agenda. It includes contractual agreements, donations, single-source purchases, permission to advertise for bids, student transfer report, an overnight field trip and the dropout prevention plan.

The board accepts the consent agenda.

1:01 p.m.

Next up is the docket of claims, totaling $1,717,411.58. Goes from July 1 to August 1. The board accepts it.

Pannell presents finance reports for the month of June. It includes bank reconciliation statements. Also includes cash flow statement, combined balance sheet for all general and special revenue funds and monthly financial statement.

Babb asks, on general funds, what are the types of expenditures on other financing. Notes it has a sizable budget variance and asks what causes that.

Pannell said that is where the money is removed between accounts, but they hadn’t done that yet in June; that happens when the books are closed.

Board approves.

1:06 p.m.

Personnel director Jim Turner will now present the personnel report. It includes the retirement of executive secretary Patrice Tate. Board said it doesn’t want to allow Tate to retire. She has 25 years of service.

Board approves the personnel report.

1:12 p.m.

Ezell is now bringing six policies for approval. They include telephone/ video conferences of board meetings, student activity funds management, employment after retirement, three-tiered instruction process, use of copyrighted material and student restraint.

The board accepts all six policies.

1:16 p.m.

Now Loden has several infomrational items to present. First is Britton with an enrollment report.

The data is calculating the number of students in school on that Monday and on that Friday. The first slide is raw numbers.

For K-2. 1782, projected was 1757…on Friday they had 1792. I think she said it was 36 more than last year.

3-5: Projected 1528. Had 1536. Last year was 1528. 8 more.

Milam Projected 489, had 491. 108 fewer than last year

Tupelo Middle: Projected 1099. Had 1142. 43 more than projected and 14 more than last year.

Tupelo High: Projected 1896. Had 1973. 77 more than projected and 24 more than last year.

Britton more students at Joyner than projected and more than last year. At 3-5, more than projected in all schools except Pierce Street. At Milam, the projection was close, but about 100 students fewer.

Britton said at first she was nervous about that. But you see Tupelo Middle School…I think it is just a big class. When you project, you have to consider the number in 5th grade. We were close with the projection, but for some reason this year’s sixth-grade class is smaller than last year’s.

Prather asks if they saw any decline due to the tornado in Joyner area. Britton said no and that under law, they would be allowed to go there even if displaced.

Babb asks if there was an impact from the start date change; it was supposed to be later and then got moved up, maybe families already had vacation plans,

Britton said those students wouldn’t be captured yet. This was just students who were in class. But they will do another report this Friday and will do one every Friday in August.

Overall, the district is down 35 students from last year, she said.

Prather asks if there is an increase in student transfers outside the district. Student services director Pam Traylor said they are seeing more. Also seeing more in-school transfers related to students displaced by the tornado.

1:25 p.m.

Athletic director Andy Schoggin will speak about athletic facilities. Said if you turned on the local news last night or read the Daily Journal today, you will see there is some exciting news (crews have begun to install the blue turf at Tupelo High).

Prior to the end of school, they had received commitments of 80-percent of the cost for installing the turf. They have collected 66-percent of that. Some of that was committed to come in at different times of the year.

They also have received additional interest from other businesses who want to be a part of this and they will be meeting with them in the coming days.

Schoggin: We are being fiscally responsible and doing the best things for our student athletes.

Schoggin said the names of sponsors will be woven in. It will be seperate panels that will be dropped in later on the process. He said the plan is to have them all sown in by game day.

“As far as we can tell, things are on schedule. I’ve found in the construction business, it is hard to get a ‘Yes, it will be ready.’ But I feel good about the direction in which it is going.”

Prather asks if the team will be able to practice on turf before the first game.

Coach Trent Hammond: I hope so. That would be our plan for it it be ready before the day we play. But a lot of the articifical surfaces today play like grass. And a lot of our kids played on araticifical surfaces last year, so it won’t be new in that manner.

Babb: I appreciate y’all getting out in the community, buidling support and engaging the community like this. It is something the community is excited about and ready for football and I think there is a lot more excitement this year.

Schoggin: It is not built for us, it is built for our student atheletes and I think that is the biggest driving force.

Hudson: as a board member, it made it a lot easier to be on baord knwioing we had such great support from the community and there was a lot lower financial commitment from the district. Thank you for your effort on that.

Schoggin said they are working on a celebration or ribbon cutting for the turf, to thank the sponsors.

Babb asks about the nubmers of participatns

Hammond said the team is way up. He placed an order for 27 more help

121 dresses for vastiy 10-12 and 75 dressed out for 9th grade. WE dont ahve enough uniforms. there are only 99 numbers. WE siad at the beginning we domtn cut to a nubmer. tHeyw wmay be a 10th grader who growns and as a  senior I’m asking him to come back after cutting him. They will oull from that for a travel roster, simialr to what they do in college. It will be a tough decision but it keeps kids engaged and gives them things to do to be part of the program.

Loden will provide an update on accountability. Said data was supposed to be in at beginning of August. Now it will get it on Aug. 18 and will be publicly relased on sept. 19.

There are a lot of changes. They are being told next year when they take tests in MAy won’t get scores back until October or November. It will be hard to make chagnes mid-year. Loden said they are being told informally that a lot of states are seeing doprs with the Core.

We know there are a lot of changes out there but we will tay focused on the things we can contorl and at the end of teh year we think we will see positive results.

There is still a queston of whether schools would be held harmless for a second yaer. Loden siad that is important to help with the transition to the Core.

Loden said there will be  grand opening for the turf.

Loden said lasyt week there was a opbulci hearing for the sepcial education budget. There were several community memvbers present and a good discussion, Loden siad.

“It has been a great opening of school,” Loden said. “It feels like we ahve been at it for a while.”

Loden said Patrice Tate said it has been among the best openings of schools she has seen. Usually she gets a few calls, but there hadn’t been any tis year, just one parent who met with Loden with a concern. She said it has been really smooth.

Loden said Walt Drain is the new assessment person at MDE, replacing the retiring James Mason.

The challenging thing with not getting data until October next year is it will be difficult to target students in the bottom 25 percent, which is an improtant group in the new accountability model.

1:40 p.m.

Executive director of operations Andy Cantrell will provide an update on buildings and grounds projects.

Cantrell: All of our summer projects were completed and we were very happy with the way they turned out. WEre able to make some upgrades and improve safety.

Said Joyner project went well. He thanks all of those who worked together to complete it. Total cost was $2.4 million. Vast majority was covered by insurance, Cantrell said. They really went above and beyond to help us out, he said. District cost was about $50,000 to $100,000.

Other projects: soccer field house is nearly complete

Moved entrance at Early Childhood Education Center

New awning at Thomas Street School

Cantrell said maintenance department did a lot of work during the summer time.

The new maintenance building is coming along. It is taken a little longer than other projects because they are doing other work at the same time. they have interior walls up and electrical work. They think they will be ready in about six weeks.

1:45 p.m.

Board will now discuss the 2014-15 district goals and indicators.

Prather makes motion to approve the goal. He thanks COmmunity Liaison Mary Ann Plasencia and Loden for repsonding to the board’s feedback. The board spent extensive time deveolping the goals during its retreat in June.

The board approves the goals.

1:46 p.m.

Board will now discuss its 2014-15 school year budget.

Finance director Linda Pannell said the budget is pretty much as it was presented at the hearing. There is no tax increase. There is a cost of living increase of 2 percent for all employees considered support staff, including principals, assistant principals, secretaries, custodians, bus drivers, mainteance. Board already approved an increase for assistnat teachers and teachers received an icnrease from the state.

The cost of living hopefully will keep the salaries in line, Pannell said. That was recommendation Loden had this year, she said.

Board approves the 2014-15 school year budget and the tax levy resolution to the city.

1:50 p.m.

Now they will discuss future agenda topics. Loden said at next meeting they will talk about enrollment, summer programs, an ACT update and update on teacher MacBooks.

Wheeler said he has heard some concerns about traffic flow at Tupelo High School. He said he knows the district has already been working that.

1:54 p.m.

Board will enter into executive session to discuss the superintendent evaluation and the results of teacher exit interviews.