Tupelo School Board 09.09.14

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

12:15 p.m.

Meeting has begun. Board approves agenda. The board also will meet tonight at 5 p.m. at Tupelo Middle School. It will hold public recognitions and will vote on agenda items during that meeting. It will hold presentations and discuss agenda items during the noon meeting.

12:17 p.m.

Community liaison Mary Ann Plasencia will make a report on the district’s report card, which is based on the goals determined by school board members during their yearly retreat in June. Plasencia is presenting a calendar for when the district will provide a report on each of the goals.As new data becomes available, it will be placed upon the report card.

Board President Rob Hudson said it is helpful consolidating everything into one document. “It is a lot of information, but the board has driven the measurement piece…I feel like we have been chasing two documents, so to be able to walk through this and see our progression over time is really helpful.”

Hudson: “There are a lot of moving parts, but this (document) makes me feel like we’ve got a really good grip on it.”

Items that will have multiple reports during the year include attendance and discipline.

12:25 p.m.

Assistant Superintendent Kim Britton will make a report about technology and summer programs.

Britton said the district sent home summer packets in May to all K-5 students and provided incentives to K-5 students to read. Seventh- to 12th-grade students had required reading. The district opened its media centers for students to read and also provided copies of the books as eBooks.

On technology, the district provided 650 MacBookAirs to teachers. They also provided ChromeBook computers to the elementary schools. The old computers that were in the elementary schools will be sent to the high school to be used there by students who don’t have computers. The old teacher laptops also will be sent to the high school for use there.


12:28 p.m.

Tupelo High Principal Jason Harris will make a presentation about the school’s ACT scores from its senior class of 2014.

The school has increased its level of participation each year since 2010. This year it tested 105 more students than it did in 2010 and 49(?) more than it did last year. That is by reaching out and trying to make sure it tests all students. However, by testing more students this year, Harris said, scores dropped some. Composite score dipped from 20.3 to 19.4. However, THS remained above the state average on English, math, reading, science and composite score.

Here is a link to Harris’ report: https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?ik=35863722

Harris is showing a chart that compares the percent of students ready for college-level coursework, broken out by THS, state average and national average. On each, Tupelo fell between the state and national averages.

Another chart compares students who took the core (4 English classes 3 math classes 3 reading classes and 3 science classes) and those who hadn’t.

For Tupelo High, the students who had taken the core had a composite score of 21.4 and those who hadn’t had a core of 16.3.

Harris said that because last year’s senior class was part of a Gear Up grant, it paid for all of the seniors to take the ACT.

Board member Sherry Davis asks if they can get a similar report for freshmen, sophomores or juniors. Harris said they can, but ACT specifically provides a report on the graduating senior class. This report is just for last year’s seniors. It reports the highest score they made on the test regardless of when they took it (in other words, if a student’s highest score was taken when he was a sophomore, that is the score reported for that student).

Another slide looks at the average composite score for each state. Those with the highest ACT scores tested fewer students, Harris said. For instance, Massachusetts had the highest composite score, 24.3, but it only tested 23 percent of its students. He said when states test all of their students, it tends to lower scores.

For Southern states, Harris said, Tennessee, Florida and Louisiana were testing 100 percent of their students.

Harris said if Tupelo tested only their top 9-percent, they could take on anyone at any time.

Hudson asks when THS started testing 100-percent. Harris said it is increasing as accountability models demand that. In Tennessee, he said, that is used as an exit requirement.

Harris said that since he became principal and Gearl Loden became superintendent, they have worked to test all students on the ACT.

Hudson said district should be able to compete with anyone who is testing 100 percent because that is a fair comparison.

Hudson: Does the state rank districts on ACT? Loden said it does not.

Harris: We continue to make this a focus at the high school as we do preparation.

Harris said the school has goals, does ACT prep and has an online component tutorial.

Harris: “We are trying to be ahead of the curve on the ACT so when that goes online we are ready. We are looking to increase our scores as we test all.”

Davis asks about ACT prep classes. Harris said the counseling department offers three after school. It has an online tutorial and also has ACT books students can use. In the past two years, it has purchased a license through ACT for every student in the high school.

Davis asks if students have access to retired tests to practice. Harris said they do. Also, they use those as bell ringers sometimes.

Davis asks how many students participate in the prep classes. Harris said they have a lot more students come in the fall. By the spring, a lot of seniors already have admittance letters or know about scholarships.

Davis asks about incentives. Harris said a big thing is administering the test on campus.


12:50 p.m.

Finance director Linda Pannell will speak about ad valorem tax collection. Through the first month, it is online with other years, she said.

Board will vote on consent agenda at tonight’s meeting. It includes contractual agreements, donation, permission to submit a grant, single-source purchases, student transfer report, readmission of a student and overnight field trip requests.

12:53 p.m.

Pannell will speak about the finance reports and bank reconciliations.


12:55 p.m.

Assistant superintendent Diana Ezell will speak about policy revisions.

They reviewed section E and have five policies for revision:

-staff identification

-bomb threats


– free-reduced meal services

-data management

Changes are minor updates. In some places, they include pulling the “administrative procedures” out of the “policy” section.

12:58 p.m.

Director of human resources Jim Turner will speak about licensed staff recommendations.

Includes two new positions at Joyner due to increased enrollment and a new supplement at Milam for club coordinator, among other items.

1:02 p.m.

Assistant superintendent Eddie Peasant will provide an update on non-negotiables to the district discipline policy. Peasant said he tried to get out of the presentation, but Loden said “it was non-negotiable.” That draws a laugh.

Peasant said they have put posters at the middle and high school saying what the non-negotiables were and what the consequences are for violating those rules. It includes “#don’tgothere. There also is a QR code that students can scan to get this information and the accompanying video.

There is a three-minute video explaining the non-negotiables for grades 7 to 12. It is dramatized by the THS theater department. Lists the non-negotiables and the accompanying penalties.

Peasant: So far, hopefully it is helping.

Hudson said he appreciates the attempt to meet students where they are.

1:09 p.m.

Britton will now make a presentation about enrollment. I don’t have the actual numbers right now, so I’ll give the summary the best I can.

The previous report was from the second day of school. They had 6,934 students then.

This report is from Aug. 29. On that day, they had 122 more students enrolled.

Joyner has 59 additional students from last year

District is up 22 students K-2.

Pierce Street: 18 fewer (some apartments closed in that zone)

Grades 3 to 5: 20 more

Milam: About 120 fewer students than last year

K-12: 53 fewer students than last year…compared to May 12.

They are over the 7,000-student mark, Britton said.

ECEC is down 14 students from last year.

Loden said the number that stands out to him, they do have 52 fewer students than the year before, but they have 260 students more than they projected using historical data. They projected a decline of 300 students, based on who was enrolled in May.

Britton said the projection looks at the number of students in the class and looks at who will pass and fail. They don’t know how many will

Britton: When you look at Milam, you would think it was a big drop (112), but they are only two or three off from projections. It was a smaller fifth-grade class.

Loden: I would like to see more in the elementaries, but we are holding our own. He said he fears that as the population ages, if more young families aren;’t moving in, there will be a flattening of enrollment.

Britton said she is seeing movement around within the district. As one apartment complex closes, another one opens.

Director of student services Pam Traylor said the number of out-of-district tuition students is up this year. Britton said they also have a higher number of students classified as “homeless” due to the fact they are not living in their permanent residence (maybe living with friends or family members) following the tornado.

1:21 p.m.

Facilities director Andy Cantrell is providing a facilities update.

The THS soccer/ cross country/ track field house has been completed.

They are making progress on renovating the new maintenance facility. They hope to have it done by mid to late October.

At Church Street, they were having a drainage issue that was about to wash away some rock. They have fixed that.

They have completed the new entrance at ECEC.

At Lawhon, there was an erosion problem that created a gully near one of the sidewalks. They went in and installed some drains and pipe and repaired the contract.

At the One D’Ville apartments owned by the district, they are repairing some roofs.

Loden talks about the new fieldhouse and notes it will serve a lot of students.

Board member Eddie Prather asks if they can enlarge the sign denoting the entrance for ECEC.

1:27 p.m.

Loden notes that the district is accredited for the next school year and the appreciates the hard work of everyone to maintain accreditation.

The district has a couple of issues for executive session, Loden said, including potential funding of MAEP.

At the next school board meeting, the district will have an update on the 63-percent campaign as it relates to enrollment. AD Andy Schoggin will talk about the first 9-week athletic report. They will discuss test security plan and upcoming audit. THS principal Jason Harris will talk about SAT report.

Board attorney Otis Tims said there are two matters for discussion during executive session. They involve potential litigation.

1:32 p.m.

Board goes into executive session.


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