Today’s Tupelo School Board meeting will begin shortly. Three board members are present, Joe Babb, Rob Hudson and Sherry Davis. Ken Wheeler and Eddie Prather are not here. Wheeler is out of town and Prather will be there for the 5 p.m. meeting today.
Board will meet again at Thomas Street School at 5 p.m. It will discuss the agenda at this meeting and will vote on items during the 5 p.m. It will not take action during the noon meeting.
Board has an addendum to the agenda, involving personnel.
Loden: At Friday’s meeting the district hired two new principals and some assistant principals. Two more assistant principals here today. Mark Enis will be an assistant principal at Lawndale. Has been at Tupelo High. Coached soccer, golf, baseball. U.S. history teacher.
Jay Causey who has been an assistant at Tupelo Middle will be an assistant principal at Rankin.
Loden: I do believe we have hit a home run. Said THS Principal Jason Harris, athletic director Eddie Moore and assistant AD Trent Hammond have an announcement.
Moore: We have hit a home run. We try to upgrade our staff every chance we get and today we have done that. He comes from Nettleton. His name is Dana Rhea.
Harris: In our school board goals, #3 objective is we attract and retain the best. Today we are going to hire the best.
Says the record is amazing. 323 wins and 88 losses.
194-57 as a fastpitch coach (head and assistant)
Has won 5 state championships and his teams have played for 12 in last 15 years. He said he’s won a lot but he wants to come to Tupelo to make a difference in those girls’ wives. He is a Tupelo resident. His wife his here. Has a daughter in eighth grade and two other children already in Tupelo Schools.
Rhea: I want to thank everyone here today for the opportunity. Around the state, when you speak about Tupelo, you talk about great things. I’m extremely excited to be even considered but to be chosen as head coach here is without words. I’m looking forward to turning the page with my family and my life here in Tupelo.
Board now will recognize Rob Hudson, current board member and recent board president.
Babb: Hudson served as president for a long time. Normal term is a year and he served for about a year and a half. Duties of president are a lot and Hudson had his hand in a lot of what the district did during that time, Babb said. Notes that Hudson is busy with a large family and his business and that he didn’t have a lot of time to devote and he still found a way to do so.
They present him with a gavel. He gets a standing ovation.
Hudson: All of us are busy. This effort as a board member is one of the most meaningful things I’ve been a part of. There are a lot of things we do to make a difference. This digs deep. The things we do as board members have potential to have an impact for a long time. Pleasure to serve with fellow board members and a common purpose. Working with Dr. Loden and his leadership. It has been a pleasure to support him and support the district.
Babb: He has taught us so much about what it means to be a board member. Good thing is we have him another year, or longer. That’s not our decision.
Now board will recognize members of the Safe and Sound Bond Committee.
Babb: Money will help all schools and all children. Will benefit infrastructure. Not glamorous but through your hard work our children say benefit to expand early childhood education….Infrastructure not glamorous….60 percent would have passed but 85 percent is a statement made. The statement is we live in a special place and we are part of a special community and what speaks volume is you were willing to dedicate your time and effort. We can never say enough about what you’ve done.
Now district will recognize Kate Farabaugh, who represented the First Congressional District of Mississippi as one of four finalists for State Parent of the Year.
Board recognizes Ryan Roper for his service as AEE president.
Assistant Superintendent Eddie Peasant will make a presentation about the structure day program, the district’s alternative school. Said Principal Larry Harmon and the staff work to keep students on track academically and also work on social skills and other skills.
Board recognizes the program directed by Larry Harmon.
Harmon: I would like to thank all of you for the support you give us for the Structured Day program. Our goal is two fold, to make sure our students continue the education they have from their home schools. Last year they had 21 students who went through their program and graduated. This year, they have 11.
Number is to provide behavior modification program so they can successfully return to home school.
Now they have 96 students enrolled in the program. Have served 226 students throughout the school year. Some of our babies love us so much they come to us again.
Life Core comes every Wednesday to work with middle school students about good choices. Impact comes on the last Friday of every month and provides incentives to students. Region 3 Counselors. Little Cesars, Dominos, Coca Cola and McDonald’s.
Stephanie Jackson is a teacher. Deals with all types of students, special needs students. Had three students scheduled to return to home room in April but chose to remain in her room.
Jackson: We do so much at the Structre Day program and we do not for recognition but for our students. (Tearing up)….Talks about the work of Mr. Harmon and how great he is to work for….Thanks board and district for their support.
Director of Finance Rachel Murphree provides an ad valorem update.
Board members now will speak about their trip to the National School Board conference in Nashville.
Sherry Davis is speaking about side trips she made. One is about a program that prepares students for medical careers. Also talks about a program that helps with rural schools.
Hudson: The National School Board conference is so different than the state attended conferences we do. It seems to be bigger thinking and we don’t get caught up in the nuts and bolts of what is happening in Mississippi.
He spends a lot of time talking to peers. Easy to connect at different breakouts. He say board members, some of whom are ahead of what we are doing as a district and many of whom are behind. Came back with a greater appreciation of what we do.
Has a lot of notes he will share.
At national conference, it seems we are always connected with a speaker who thinks well beyond where we are with technology and helps to open up the world. It helps to see what is out there and to think about where our district is going. It really is a great investment of time for a board member.
Babb: One day in my dreams this will be after April 15, and I’ll go (Babb is an accountant and is busy until after tax day).
Davis said it is later next year, so Babb can go.
Executive director of operations Andy Cantrell and JBHM Architect Charles Laney will speak about scheduling.
Look at three series for how to sell the bonds, how to break them up.
They decided to distribute the work over a long period of time so they wouldn’t flood the market and impact bidding prices. We want a fair price for each
Decided to issue two series, one $34 million and one $8-10 million. BAsed on Jim Young’s expertise in dealing with bonds. Felt it gave the best chance in dealing with interest rates that could go up soon.
34 million would cover summer 2015-2018
8-10 million would cover summer 2016-10
2015: security cameras, film, alarms. ECEC expansion and middle school expansion.
2016: Large projects Rankin and Lawhon
2017: Pierce, Filmore, high school
2018: Clean up any project.
Laney: For fall projects this year, looking to bid in mid August and have done by March
Summer projects bid by March 2016 and have a two- to three month gap so they can get materials ordered and can start as soon as summer begins.
Babb Asks for thought process in jumping on the ECEC and middle school additions quickly.
Cantrell said it gives them time if bids come in too high. Laney said those projects will take 8-10 months and can be done with school in session.
Hudson said working with Laney has been helpful, local partner and understanding what students in district need.
Babb: We’re excited. A lot of people are excited and we appreciate your hard work on this.
Finance director Rachel Murphree will speak about financial reports – reconciled bank statements, statement of revenue and expenditure, cash flow report, consolidated fund balance sheet and month financial statement.
Assistant superintendent Kim Britton will present the personnel recommendations.
Britton will now present policy changes.
Emergency school closing policy will allow superintendent to close school in event of an emergency, will allow them to hold school for fewer than 180 days in event of an emergency and will allow board to still pay teachers for their work in such an event.
Policy is a combination of an existing one and a recommendation by the Mississippi School Board Assocation, School Board Attorney Otis Tims said. A tremendous amount of time was spent on this process, Tims said.
Hopefully, the Legislature can take care of this loophole soon, Loden said, so there is consistency across the state.
Peasant brings a discipline recommendation.
Cantrell will speak about achitectural agreements.
$450K budgeted for cameras
$66K budgeted for security film
$353,789 budgeted for alarms
Majority will be QSCB funds, some bond funds.
Second agreement is a good inspection of the stages at various schools. Milam, Church Street, Lawhon (missed the others).
Three agreement is to construct a cross country track at Tupelo High.
District funds not to exceed $30,000.
Fourth is re-roof of Filmore Center. Will be paid with bond funds. Budget is $350,000.
Tims will speak about the 2014-15 audit. Board needs to acknowledge it received the audit.
Babb said the district is working on some of the issues auditors had.
Director of Assessments Lea Johnson will speak about the third-grade gate.
512 third graders were tested. 64 didn’t pass and 448 did. Of those who did not pass, 39 will qualify for a good cause exemption. 25 will re-take the test. Johnson said they are proud of the results. State average was 15 percent and each of the district’s schools beat the state average.
Johnson said the test used was from the STAR test. She said a lot of schools just practiced the STAR test and did really well but Tupelo didn’t focus just on that one test because they felt students needed to learn other skills too. Said the test next year will be different than STAR too.
Good cause exemptions: Student with IEP so severe shouldn’t be on any state testsing
Students with an IEP who had been failed once
Student who already had been failed twice.
The 25 left to re-rest.
6 are ELL students. 9 are special education students, many of them were identified as special education this year.
12 kids were at ECEC and 13 were not. Those who were at ECEC were more severe needs who needed extra help. Almost all of them had been with the district all year this year but seven had not been with the district the full time.
For those 25 kids, they will do intensive work. Working with interventionist. Program with Classworks until they take test.
If they don’t pass the second test, will have a third opportunity to take it in August. Wlll have all school libraries open in August…will have an interventionist there in the summer…will have access to STAR, Accelerated Reader…will have a special path in Classworks created for them….will have eBooks available…all students in district will receive reading packets this summer with games and information.
Babb: We are proud of the results. Help me as a board member understand how the cut scores were established, after the test was taken.
Johnson: Typically with a high-stakes test, they have a year where you took the test but the scores didn’t count. The fact that this test keeps a student going forward to a new grade and we didn’t know cut score going in is very nerve-wracking.
Loden: Fatal flaw of model is student can be retained twice. Research shows over 90 percent of students who are retained twice will never graduate. And you can have a 16-year-old in middle school with a 13-year-old, which is not good.
Tims will speak about field trip insurance. Notes there is libabilty coverage district carries on all of its vehicles…Specific to field trips, MDE recommends that all school sponsored activities that requires transportation on district owned vehicles have policy in place…AS to chartered buses, the recommendation is the district only contract with companies that have specific insurance.
Working through those issues. Wants to solidify the proces.
Davis: My main concern is we weren’t getting substandard service without insurance.
Loden, next month we will have a lot of things about end of year.
Last year’s senior group, we learned had an 81 percent graduation rate which was our first above 80 percent in years. Believe this year will be higher. Will have a National Merit Finalist graduating on Friday and should have four semifinalists next year. ACT scholars will grow from 190 last year to 217 year. Students who have scored at least a 30 on the ACT will grow from 33 to 43. One student just got a perfect score. District passed a 44 million bond issue. Loden said things are going well and the scorecard looks good. He thanks those who have contributed to that.
Tims brings the recoednation of the election commissioners. Board needs to pass a resolution acknowledging that report and saying the district will go forward with the sale of bonds.
Board has adjourned its noon meeting. It will reconvene at Thomas Street at 5.