TPSD School Board meeting 07.31.12

School board meeting has begun at Hancock Leadership Center. All five board members are present.

Parent Kate Farabaugh presented a new “TPSD” car decal that will be available to parents.

TPSD Community Liasion Mary Ann Plasencia will now make a presentation on the district’s goals for the year. It comes from the discussion the board had at its board retreat in June. The draft was also shared with principals and directors for their reviews and comments.

Five goals are:

1) Increase student achievement across the district

2) Provide a safe and orderly environment in all of our schools

3) Improve, develop and retain human capital

4) Improve internal and external communication

5) Increase managemenet effectiveness and efficiency.

Each goal has several measurable indicators. The goals will also be placed at the top of the board’s agenda for each meeting to help the board to better focus on its goals.

Superintendent Gearl Loden said the district will also develop report cards for the superintendent, assistant superintendents, special education director and principals on whether they are progressing toward their goals.

12:15 p.m.

Loden said he is looking for ways to offer dual enrollment courses at Tupelo High School.

Board Vice President Beth Stone said that the district must look for multiple ways to communicate in order to make sure all aspects of the community are being communicated with.

Loden said district’s loft goal is to have 50 percent more QDI growth than the state.

Board President Eddie Prather said the district should have an indicator that it increases diversity of its faculty and staff to better reflect that of its student body.

12:21 p.m.

Board member Kenneth Wheeler said district should develop a yearly plan related to school safety.

Board member Rob Hudson said he will be concerned throughout the year on how the district is doing on progress toward its goals. He’d like to see a regular update on progress, both for the quantitive indicators and the others. That might include an update on steps being taken for that improvement.

Plasencia acknowledged that some of these are harder to measure but equally important. Prather said it would be helpful to see a trend line to show which progress is taking place.

12:23 p.m.

Loden said they have had several brainstorming sessions about how do you measure the human results, how do you measure job satisfaction.

Prather said the district will do a little more work on the goals and will bring them back to approve at a future meeting.

Plasencia said as a non-educator, she thinks it is so important for everyone in the district to have a fluent understanding of what the goals are. They hope to post these all over campuses so that everyone is on the same page.

“This is very exciting,” Plascencia said.


Plascencia is presenting a summary of grants the school district received last year. Totalled $513,950.

The district will have a grant writer in the curriculum and instruction office to work on the big federal grants.

12:29 p.m.

Director of Federal Programs Dale Warriner will present data on the Early Childhood Education Center.

Warriner said in the last two years, 79-83% of the center’s students entered the 4-year-old program below grade level in language. At the end of the year, 64 to 75% of the students left at grade level.

Warriner also highlights the large number of English Language Learners who enter the program with no knowledge of English and also a large number of students lacking social skills.

12:33 p.m.

Warriner said one thing that has changed in the past few years has been the implementation of reading skills in small groups. She said minority students have made big gains through the years.

Prather: “It will be our goal to get more kids in pre-K.”

12:44 p.m.

Warriner said Early Beginnings Resource Center will come into effect at the Early Childhood Education Center this year. The ECEC will also add a science lab this year, thanks to an AEE grant.

12:48 p.m.

Finance Director Linda Pannell will make a presentation on tuition students in the distirct. Last year, the district had 96 employee children who were tuition and 256 non-employee children for a total of 352. Students came from many surrounding counties and school districts. The largest number was 271 students from the Lee County School District.

12:50 p.m.

Pannell will now speak about Education Enhancement Funds. She said the legislature will change the way EEF funds for instruction will be distributed to teachers.

She said they warned districts that is the money wasn’t given directly to teachers, the state would change the way it is done. She said every district she has been with has given the money directly to teachers but evidently some didn’t which is why the state made the change.

It will give procurement cards to teachers for those supplies. Districts could opt-in or opt-out for this year but would need to use the procurement cards after this year. Tupelo agreed to use them for the upcoming year.

Each teacher will have a card with a number on it to use for purchasing school supplies. The state is hoping the cards are ready in September, but it may not be until October.

Loden said one concern he has is making sure teachers have what they need when school supplies. Teachers are used to being able to buy supplies in August and September, but now they will have to buy them later.

Pannell said teachers will be required to keep their recipts for five years. Pannell thinks Tupelo teachers will get $175 to $200. They will not be able to carry over any unspent funds. If there is anything left in Tupelo’s account at the end of the year, it will be redivided among the school district next year.

Pannell: “I’m not sure if all of the teachers are aware of this because we didn’t know it was coming.”

12:59 p.m.

Pannell will now present a summary the budget. The district will hold a public hearing about the budget tonight at 5 at the Hancock Center.

The budget won’t be official until approved during the Aug. 14 meeting. Last year’s enrollement was more than 7,500 students. Average daily attendance has increased since 2001-02. It was down slightly last year, which is what will determine funding for this year.

Enrollment predicted to be 7,300 students this year.

MAEP, in 2007-08, the district received $29 million. The district’s projected for this year is $29 million. Pannell: “Teaher salaries have increased every year by experience but for the last five years, we have not seen an increase from the state….When our fund balance may be decreasing, that may be the reason.”

Ad valorem tax reduction money has decreased. two years ago: $117,000; last year: $30,000, this year $0. Pannell said Tupelo can’t recoup that by raising taxes because the district is locked at 55 mils.

She said Chickasaw Section payments are expected to increase by $200,000.

1:07 p.m.

I have not yet seen a copy of the budget, but I will get one at the 5 p.m. budget hearing, if not before.

Pannell said major budget programs and initiatives include: Alert now, constrution and maintenance, debt service, curriculum and instruction department, food service, 1-to-1 laptop initiative ($1.6 million), other staff salaries, SAM, structure day program, summer curriculum writing program, teaching technology tools, technology, transporation.

Districts don’t set the millage, the taxing authority does. Pannell said she has worked a lot with the city and predicts the millage rate will be down this year by about .6. Operation mills will be 55. Debt mills predicted at 64.53.

Pannell said district just refinanced two outstanding debts to save money.

1:16 p.m.

Director of Facilities Julie Hinds will present a summary of summer construction projects. It includes replacing windows at THS with aluminum storefront windows, reworking main entrance at Rankin to better control visits entering campus (route them through the office), replacing four rooftop units at Tupelo High Scool and redoing restrooms at Carver.

Hinds is now presenting a facilities plan, a seven-year plan looking at projects the district is forecasting. It is based off current budget of $1.2 million each year for capital improvements. She said it is something that will need to be evaluated each year.

1:19 p.m.

Hinds is now presenting projects that would be next priorities as funds become available. It includes renovations at Carver and Church Street, adding 15 classrooms to the ECEC and improving the Tupelo High cafeteria. It also includes three athletic projects: turf on the football field, middle school rubber gym and baseball renovations.

Hudson asks what is the likelihood of state funding appearing to allow for those projects. Loden said perhaps if there are low-interest bonds like the Quality School Construction Bonds. There is only limited money now available under that program.

1:22 p.m.

Loden said he wants to commend the team in the room today. “There has been a lot of work going on this summer, and we feel like we are ready for school to start…We feel like we are ready for the buses to start the routes and young people to begin school.”

1:23 p.m.

Board approves the consent agenda.

1:33 p.m.

Board approves the docket of claims.

1:34 p.m.

Personnel director Jim Turner will present the personel report. It includes 23 licensed staff, one retirement, 17 resignations, 8 in-school transfers and one in-district transfer. There is a recommendation for a new dyslexia coordinator.

Turner said the district is within 4 percent of having all the staff needed to start school. There are about 20 positions that need to be filled, Turner said, noting he has several recommendations sitting on his desk.

Board accepts the personnel report.

1:43 p.m.

Board is discussiing future agenda topics. School board member Amy Heyer said she would like to get more information on the Early Beginnings program at the ECEC.

1:44 p.m.

Board clears the room for an executive session for a personnel matter.

Click video to hear audio