TPSD School Board meeting 05.22.12

Tupelo school board meeting is about to begin at Hancock Leadership Center. All five board members are present.

12:18 p.m.

Meeting has started.

Interim superintendent David Meadows is making a couple of additions to the agenda. He is asking the board to consider other personnel recommendations in addition to what is in the board’s packet.

He is also asking them to consier refinancing the district’s 1998 bond note, something the board will discuss later. The board approves the new, amended agenda.


School Board President Eddie Prather commends the high school staff for conducting a good graduation ceremony on Friday and end-of-the-year celebration on Monday.

“It is always good to end the school year with a good graduation and a good end-of-the-year celebration.”

12:22 p.m.

Finance Director Linda Pannell will make an update on the district’s budget process for the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1.

Pannell: Local revenue is projected to be down about $700,000. Big item is donations. “We don’t normally budget donations until it is received….It is not unsual to be down like it is…The other is fines and fees…That is another that is unpredictable so we budget low on that and change it accordingly.”

“For state revenue we know we have Chickasaw money, we know we have $359,000-plus from that…Driver’s Education Funds depends on how many students take that, so we never know how to budget each year…Distrit maintenance MAEP funds, we are showing most of our money going into that this year…Master Teacher funds, we no longer get that…Other things are small in comp

“Federal funds, eRate is predicted to be less next year. Total federal funds are down about $4 million….State stabilization, another word for that is ARRA (Stiumuls) and we won’t get that. That is $1.7 million used for salaries and that won’t be coming in. Federal ed jobs is another one we wont’ get.” Also won’t get other various stiumuls funds…That is where major decreases are.

Meadows: “Dr. Burnham always said, remember with these ARRA funds, there will come a part where districts feel as if they are falling off the cliff…Of course, our district has planned for that.”

Pannell: “Along those same lines, the finance department has been saying the train wreck would occurin 2013….They have prepared us for that.”

“Our total overall revenue is predicted to be down about $8 million. We don’t know for sure on our title or our special ed funds”…..Don’t know about special ed, but don’t expect it to be a deecrease.

Board member Rob Hudson asks about the loan process. Pannell said it was a loan they needed in 2010-11 but she doesn’t expect the district will need it again. It was 3-mil money and the district hasn’t spent it yet. It will probably be in construction this summer and construction and the second round of the Apple purchases (capital lease).

Meadows: We made two purchases with Apples. $429,000 for teachers and 12th-graders three years ago. Then another purchase of computers for 6th to 11th graders. We have two more payments to make, in the 2012-13 school year and the 13-14 school year.

“The good side of that is our payments will free up money for district maintenance.”

Pannell is now talking about ad valorem (local car tag and property tag money). They are anticipating a decrease of $272,236 that it had this year that it won’t have next year.

12:38 p.m.

Assistant finance director Rachel Murphree will now talk about expenses for the budget and what each school would like to have.

Main function is instruction. Support functions have sub-categories. Major budget areas include construction repairs, food service, instructional salaries, instructional supplies, operations, other staff salaries (anything not instructional), technology (increase bandwidth), transporation.

12:46 p.m.

Murphree outlines the cost of various district programs:

A computer program: $94,000

Councils of School Excellence: $20,000

Curriculum Department and moving toward Common Core (includes summer curriculum writing project, the department itself and trainers during school year) $1.2 million

Distirct website: $25,000

Extended school year and summer school: $147,000

High School Advancement Academy: $1.1 million (includes replacing the Ombudsman program with the district’s staff and adding a principal and counselor…Murphree said it is a savings of $90,000)

Intensified Time Counselors (for grades K-12): $292,000

One-to-one laptop program: $1.7 million. (Includes two debt payments on the two leases, adding 200 new computers to replace damaged ones ($200,000) and technology repairs ($313,000).

School Aged Mothers program: $400,000

Structure Day program: $600,000

Teacher technology tools (includes computers for third to fifth grade): $324,000

Ventures for Excellence (through Human Resources): $31,000

Rob Hudson asks if the district will save money when it goes to digital textbooks instead of hard copies. Murphree said not really because it will need to continue to replace laptops as they become outdated.

Hudson asks how many computers the district has now. Meadows said, last time he checked, there were 3,867 computers.

12:54 p.m.

Mary Ann Plasencia and Jan Rogers will present on “Meeting Family Needs of TPSD Staff Members.”

Rogers teaches first-grade at Joyner and is on the school’s Teacher Advisory Committee. She has three students who are attending Tupelo Schools or have graduated from the district.

Rogers said the Teacher Advisory committee worked on this item. She said it is just informational; they are not asking the board to vote on anything.

One of the main recommendations on the TAC has been looking at improving transportational needs of teacher children. Rogers said because her hours are the same as her children’s she has issues getting them to school and picking them up. Usually she has to stay a little longer than they do. She said it is a mental issue, thinking about not being able to get her children until a little later.

A subcommittee polled Tupelo employees about their transportation needs.

Plasencia will speak about the survey. She said Shelly Millier (spelling?) at Tupelo High School compiled it. They sent an email to all employees that they are exploring the possiblity of early dropoff in the morning and a delayed pickup in the afternoon to guage a need. She said the deadline was May 15, but most responses came that day. There were 103 employees who responded.

Plascencia said 75 kids of employees who need some kind of help before school starts and 96 kids who need some supervision after school.

Plasencia said she was overwhelmed by how employees saw this as a benefit and how it could potentially be another way to recruit employees into the district. She said the need is greater after school than it is before school.

Rogers said the subcommittee explored three options and they hope to bring a more definitve plan to the board.

1: Early dropoff at each site, 7 a.m. and late pickup 4 p.m….Would have some staff to supervise.

2: Early dropoff at each school and bus transportation to bring employee children to their school

3: Arrangement between principals and employees with specific transportation needs to have a flexible schedule only offered to employees who have teachers in Tupelo Public Schools.

Board member Beth Stone: “You hit a topic that is close to a lot of people. I appreciate all of the work you put into it and look forward to your presenting with more infomration.”

Board member Kenneth Wheeler asks how option 1 would look.

Plasencia: It would probably entail gathering all kids in one location, maybe a cafeteria or gym and having two assistant teachers there supervising.

Rogers said it would also have to be organized and involve doing homework, etc.

Meadows said it would also allow for customizing to each school’s needs. He said the morning and afternoon would look different. Meadows said some of this is already happening, it just isn’t formalized.

Prather asks if the committee will be brining a recomendation in the future. Plasencia said they hope to have the conversation with the principals soon. She said it will look a little different at each school and it will involved leadership at all schools in some fashion. She said the committee felt like it could work out details in the summer and launch it in August. “The sooner the better.”

Hudson asks about teacher’s children going to feeder schools. Plasencia said they received a lot of emails asking for that to occur.

Meadows said: typically the buses that serve the feeder school…It would be an easy step in terms of that occuring, bus could bring child in and either go from 3-5 to K-2 or from K-2 to 3-5.

Plasencia said that was an outcome of this conversation. “Mr. Meadows said he knew this was a need, but it has really been punctuated by the responses we have gotten.”

Board member Amy Heyer: “This is a great way to support our teachers.”

1:10 p.m.

Diana Ezell is making a presentation about school supply lists. She said the goal is to have a common district-wide list for each grade and to keep each list to $20 total.

She said the challenges are that schools have received a 20-percent cut in their school supply money from the state. Also, it is much more difficult to get supplies once school has started (and those supplies are more expensive after back-to-school sales). However, that makes it difficult to keep it to $20.

Ezell said they are still working on these lists.

Heyer asks about arrangements for students who can’t afford supplies. Ezell said churches and other groups help with those.

Hudson said these lists are much more conscise (notes there are no glue sticks on the list; noting that glue sticks weren’t even used this year).

1:14 p.m.

Board is discussing the consent agenda. It includes the purchase of school buses. It would allocate the district to purchase six buses, but they may decide to purchase fewer after talking with incoming superintendent Gearl Loden.

Meadows said his original plan was to purchase four new buses but that the money is available for six buses, which would have them ahead of schedule.

Board approves consent agenda.

1:17 p.m.

Pam Traylor is presenting the student transfer report. Board approves.

1:18 p.m.

Jim Turner is presenting the personnel report. Meadows recommends consideration of an executive session at the end of the meeting because some information under other personnel changes may need to be discussed.

Turner will present it, but the board won’t take any action until after the executive session at the end of the meeting.


Hudson said he has reviewed the docket of claims and he makes a motion to approve it. Board approves.

1:22 p.m.

Pannell presents finacial statement for April. General funds received 77 percent of projected income and spent 60 percent. Special revenue funds (have to spend before get it), received 55 percent and spent 63 percent. Capital funds received 45 percent and spent 24 percent. Debt service funds: 91 percent recived and 85 percent spent. Total budget: received 74 percent and spent 60 percent.

Prather asks if there are any major repairs planned for this summer. He asks if he can get a report by the June meeting.

Board accepts financial statement.

1:24 p.m.

Pannell presents cash flow statement.

1:25 p.m.

Board will discuss policy changes.

First is updated policy on abstinence education. Meadows said by adopting policy with word “may” it will be an abstinence only policy. He said the district received the form from the state certifying which policy each district has chosen to adopt.

Meadows: I did give you the highlights of an MDE presentation done on House Bill 999 and where it talks about difference between abstinence only and abstinence plus…It follows with abstinence-only MAY include…Perhaps one that may not be clearly stated in our policy but it is in there is that districts can teach factual information about contraceptives but can not include any demonstration…

Meadows said the district has offered this curriculum for two years.

Heyer: The difference (between the two options) is the way we can choose our curriculum?

Meadows said yes and abstinence-only MAY include eight items and abstinence-plus MUST include.

Heyer: With our policy, we would not be able to use curriculum included by Mississippi Heath Department?

Meadows: Said the district can use those curriculums. It can use whatever curriculum it chooses.

Hudson makes motion to approve changes to IHAMB and authorize superintendent to notify MDE that Tupelo has adopted an abstinence-only policy. Wheeler seconds.

Motion carried 5-0.

1:30 p.m.

Pam Traylor is presenting the student discipline report, recommendations on two cases. Wheeler said he does have a couple of questions, so they will discuss it in executive session.

1:31 p.m.

Board will consider refinancing the general obligation bond from 1998 and the (general tax note?) from 2005.

Meadows said the district received this last night and wanted to bring it to the board because of the potential cost savings it would bring to the district.

Note would be split between two banks. Bond was purchased by Hancock bank. Pannell said it would be a total savings to the district of $299,080. The savings will spread over the life of the note, which expire in 2017. This would not add any life to the bond or the note.

The board approves the motion to refinance the general obligation bonds for 1998 and the limited tax note issue of 2004.

1:41 p.m.

Federal programs director Dale Warriner is presenting a revised federal program allocation for the 2011-12 school year. It includes an additional $15,760. The district was obligated to set aside 1 percent for parent involvement and obligated to set aside a certain amount per pupil for neglected students. She said the central office is allowed 20 percent but that it never takes that among. The central office allocation for this was 7.2 percent, she said. That is to run the federal program office.

Board approves the new allocation. Warriner said the allocation over time increased by $194,000.

1:45 p.m.

Meadows will make a presentation to declare Curriculum Advantage a single source for classworks software.

Kenneth Griswald from the curriculum office will make a presentation about it.

Meadows said the district has the option to purchase a liftime license instead of going with a three-year subscription.

For a $10,000 charge, the vendor would incorporate the district’s pacing guides. Meadows said that is an important part and will give the district something he thinks it has been lacking.

Meadows said something he has read has said this software will truly allow equity for students. He said that Gearl Loden has had opportunity to use this software.

Meadows said the reason it will provide equity is those who need more intensified time for instruction get that. He said for a three-year subscription $529,000 would be paid for one year at a time across budget years.

For a lifetime license, the district would own the software. It would pay $503,750 up front. Total cost across time would be $639,000.

In the third year, the pepetual license is more expensive. After that, Meadows said, it would cost $171,000 in fourth year and only $60,370.

In fourth year, pepetual license would be cheaper and everything would hold up after that. In fifth year, you would save full $110,000, if everything was held constant.

Meadows: This is a piece of software that in my opinion, the district has been missing instructionally. He said it matches the management of the data with the curriculum, with the benchmark data, etc. Could streamline an individual lesson plan for each student.

Meadows said under this every K-5 child would get 50 minutes of language and 50 mintues of math one time a week. Students needing more instruction would come back for more time.

Loden said the program really focuses on being a universal screener. It flags problems children have and emails teachers.

Meadows: Ms. Pannel, Ms. Murphree and I have been studying it and we are looking at costing it out.

Griswald: Classworks is a tool that…is the currciulum and the assessment brought together. This year’s state test results can be imported into their system. It will generate reports that can be used to generate individualized learning paths.

Any teacher who continues to get emails that a student is not mastering a particular skill will receive emails, it might recommend a different learning style for the student.

They look at a skill and choose best instructional activities to address that skill. They mix it up, so a child is not saying the same kind of activitiy again and again.

There will be different paths. One for those one grade levels and individualized paths for those who are behind.

“Over years of using this project, we can track a student’s progress over a certain scale.” (Can see if they are at or above growth).

There are reports customized for teachers, parents and principals at the school, class and individual student level.

Beth Stone asks if they will be able to access the reports at home. Griswald said yes. He said that with 1-to-1 laptop initiative, classwork exercizes can be assigned as homework.

He said that in a lot of schools, implementation team works with them to determine best way to implement it in their building.

Rob Hudson asks about Study Island and if this would take the place of that?

Griswald said it can. He said most Study Island contracts terminate in April. He said that the district would have both programs in the fall and they could make a decision in January about whether they would want to continue Study Island or not. That decision would be left to the principals instead of being made by the district as a whole.

Griswald said the schools that have Study Island, like Milam, was also using it for science and social studies. This new product is only for language and math.

Stone said that the product sounds so good becasue individaulized learning patters are very important.

Griswald said what is nice about this product is that it is instantaneous. As soon as they get results, they can make decisions to address needs that had just been identified.

Griswald said there is also an opportunity to assign activities above grade level to students.

Meadows: Ms. Pannell and Ms. Murphree and I have tried to predict cash flow into next year and even into the second year. Dr. Loden has received a response from an interesting question he asked the representative, whether the district could purchase a perpetual license for four K-2 schools and use three-year license of 3-6 schools.

Meadows said average per school cost of software with three-year license is $17,100. The average software cost for perpetual license would be $50,375.

Meadows would like to recommend the board to approve up to $518,750 for the purchase of Classworks but authorize Dr. Loden, Meadows, Pannell and Murphree to continue to work with vendor to see if there could be cost savings.

The $518,750 is the perpetual license amount.

Meadows said that the MAEP formula will be reworked and that assessed valuation in the city has declined. He knows the district needs to be financially responsible, but he would make the recommendation for the software.

Hudson: How do we know this has a five-year life to it?

Prather said that Classworks is probably one of the oldest software companies. Loden said that Amory has a license back to the 90s.

Hudson: Are you comfortable with spending $518,750 (for three years) given next year’s cash flow?

Meadows: I’m definitely comfortable with $187,000 for one year….We are giving ourselves the option to study more in depth the cash flow.

Hudson amkes the motion to approve it up to $518,750 and the board approves.

The board will now go into executive session at 2:21 p.m. to discuss student and personnel matters.

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