|September 11, 2012||TPSD School Board 09.11.12||no comments|
|August 28, 2012||TPSD School Board meeting 08.28.12||no comments|
|August 14, 2012||TPSD School Board meeting 08.14.12||no comments|
|July 31, 2012||TPSD School Board meeting 07.31.12||no comments|
Today's Tupelo School Board meeting has just begun. All five board members are present.
TPSD Community Liasion Mary Ann Plasencia and Sally Gray, a parent coach for Parents For Public Schools, are making a presenation about the Council of Excellence the district will have at Tupelo High School.
Gray said it will serve as a vehicle to improve communication between the community and the school. "I think it is a great opportunity to support our students," Gray said. "That is the ultimate goal of these councils of excellence."
Parents for Public Schools will help facilitate these councils, Gray said. She said her immediate boss has lots of experience with similar projects and is "the perfect fit" for this.
They want to develop a climate of harmony and cooperation among all stakeholers. They are looking to develop, through application process, a council with 14 to 16 representatives. They want representation from the school community and the community at large, including people from faith-based community, city government, etc.
"We want people to be excited about serving on this council," Gray said.
They expect regular attendance. They plan to start with staggered terms. PPS will develop bylaws to guide the organization.
The council will be serving in an advisory capacity. They won't make any binding decisions or make any funding decisions, but the goal is to open lines of communication. The hope is that the community sees council members as go-to individuals when there are concerns.
"We also want to see that the council is able to gather information from the high school on how our students are doing," Gray said. "We want this to be a well-informed group that can answer questions as they come up."
The principal of THS will be designated as the chairman of the council. PPS has submitted a proposal to faciliate the council so they can get off to the right start.
The minutes will be available on the school's website. They will also submit regular reports to the board and Superintendent Gearl Loden.
Names and contact information of council members should be made available on THS website.
"We see this as a real positive for our high school, and we hope down the road this is something that will be broadened," Gray said.
The plan is to have applications available next month with a deadline of Oct. 19 to submit. Council members will be named 10 days to two weeks later. Plan would be to have one meeting before the end of this calendar year and to meet four times each year.
Ultimate goals are to help kids and to improve communication with community.
Plasencia said PPS's proposal was for a year's-worth of work for $16,320.
Board member Kenneth Wheeler: "I am looking forward to the feedback, especially the communication with the public."
Rob Hudson: Can you describe the role of PPS in this?
Gray: With that first meeting, getting that group off the ground and covering everything from bylaws to how meetings will run, to what role will be. People serving on this council are making a big commitment that they will be regular in attention and that they will respect confidentiality – there may be some matters that are a little more sensitive. Reporting matters and governing how meetings run, because we want them to be productive meetings.
I think keeping those meetings running and on-track so members don't get too sidetracked. And we can serve to better network these members with the community so they get more information.
Board member Beth Stone asks about other schools.
Gray said the request was to start with the high school. She said that makes sense becuase it is the biggest school and is the one that feeds the community with workers most quickly.
"I'd love to see this unrolled at other schools in the district, but this is where we will start it," Gray said.
Board President Eddie Prather asks if the council will make regular reports.
Gray said yes. She said the council will meet a minimum of four times each year and that it wants to provide updates after each meeting.
Testing coordinator Lea Johnson will now make a report about Tupelo's ACT scores. She said it measures how well you have gathered the curriculum into your brain, while the SAT measures how well you think.
ACT stands for American College Test. Scores go from 1, lowest, to 36. It is a more prominent test in the South.
The test is not part of the distirct's accountability model, but it provides interesting trend data, Johnson said.
Johnson said it can be somewhat tough to track the students who took the test because the data doesn't automatically go back to the high school. The student has to note the high school on their test.
Data reveals that Tupelo had started to slide the previous three years, but the score moved up this year to 20. The state average was 18.7. Tupelo was above the state average for every year.
There is not an ACT requirement to go to ICC, but to go to ICC and not take remedial classes, you need an 18, Johnson said. A 4-year college requires an 18 to not take remdial classes, Johnson said. 26-29 begins to bring scholarship money.
Another chart looks at student's college readiness, as measured by ACT. Tupelo is higher than the state on all four tetsts (English, algebra, social studies and biology). Twenty percent of Tupelo's students were deemed college ready on all four tests, compared to 11 percent statewide.
Loden said these ACT scores only reflect seniors. Nationally, SAT is more popular in the North. Tupelo students who take SATs will be college prep students.
If a student takes it as a sophomore or a junior and doesn't take it again, that score will be captured during the student's senior year.
Tupelo offers an ACT prep class, and students can use a website, www.actstudent.org. Also, during T period, students can work with USA Test Prep online software.
Johnson said the fee for taking the test is $65. She said that free- and reduced-lunch students can get that fee waived once. Students in the GEAR-UP program (11th-graders this year) can also get that fee waived once if they are not free and reduced lunch).
The district also gives the PLAN test to its 10th-graders. That test resembles the ACT for younger students.
Assistant Superintendent Matthew Dillon is now presenting about Tupelo's scores on the U.S. history Subject Area Test that high school juniors took last spring. Because it was a new test, those scores were not released with the other scores two weeks ago. Also, it will not count toward district's rankings.
Dillon said there was a shift on the test with more political cartoons and students having to infer information from two-line quotes. "It really was a difficult test," he said.
448 studnets took the test, he said, including 426 at Tupelo High School. The others were in alternative programs. District wide, 76 percent of students passed, compared to 72 percent for the state.
106 students failed the test. Dillon said that is an area of concern.
He said the test is tough and that the dynamics have changed. He said it is very comparable to the English II test, which he said is very difficult and is an endurance test. "The rigor of the test has jumped up a degree," Dillon said. "It is tough."
He said the district needs to look at what it is doing and it needs to gauge where students are before the test.
He said with the block schedule, attendance is more important. The flow of curriculum with the block is also important. He said that English III plays an important role with U.S. history. With the block schedule, you can have longer gaps between taking history classes.
"There are things we need to look at when we build students' schedules to ensure we give them a good opportunity to pass the first time they take the test," Dillon said.
With foreign language and math classes, it is also important not to have long gaps between classes, Dillon said.
Stone notes that because students don't take the test until their junior year, they have fewer opportunities to retake it before graduation.
Stone asks about things the district can do to prepare them for analyzing political cartoons and other similiar skills. Dillon said the district is doing some things to work on that, such as using bellringers at the beginning of class.
Dillon said there are several things the district is doing to improve its scores. During a T-period tutorial, history teachers work with students to help them.
The district is also working with someone to provide in-house tutorials. The 106 students who failed will be getting tutoring before the re-test dates. The district just got the scores back so it is hustling to get students prepared for the Sept. 20 test. It will keep working with those students to prepare them for the Dec. 13 retest. It will begin that preparation before scores come back in so that it will have more time.
Some students will audit a U.S. history class to have more time to prepare for the test.
Executive Director of Curriculum Leigh Mobley will now present about professional development.
PD360 is an online professional development tool being used to help teachers with teaching strategies.
One thing she has heard from teachers is the need to help students with basic reading skills. They can do it through PD360.
The program is online. Teachers can log into the website for "a wealth of information."
When teachers log in, they come to a home page that shows all of the videos they have watched and other educators who have connected to them.
Principals have asked teachers to reserve the third Wednesday of every month to talk about the videos that the curriculum department has assigned for the month. This month, the department has assigned six videos for teachers to choose. Topics include reading strategies, principles of effective teaching, common core, etc.
Mobley said this is an effective way to reach teacehers without interrupting instructional time. There are 1,500 videos, and teachers can use them to get CEU credit. Teachers can watch them on their own time.
It also allows Tupelo teachers to talk to those all over the country with questions and ideas, Mobley said.
Mobley siad hte PD360 program also fits well with the new teacher evaluation module that the state will use soon.
Principals using an iPad while obersving a teacher will be able to immediately send comments to a teacher through PD360. They can also send videos for the teachers to watch to help with those tips.
"There is a wealth of information that teachers can watch at any time," Mobley said.
Topics are arranged by elementary and secondary. Some topics include common assessments, classroom management or data-based decisions, Mobley said.
There is also a component that works teachers through the Common Core Curriculum. It helps teachers see what students are learning in other grades in the curriculum.
The program allows teachers to create professional learning communities, she said. You can become a "colleague" of other educators and share information with them.
There is also a "Oberservation 360 component." She said the district worked with teachers during the summer to help them implement this. It can be done on a laptop or iPad.
It keeps track of how long the observation lasts and automatically sends an email to the person who was observed once the observation is done. Principals can also send videos that demonstrate the components they note on the observation.
The district has trained the teachers and principals on the program.
The district can get reports on how many observations a principal has done. Administrators can also see which videos the teachers have watched.
At a faculty meeting, teachers can share the content of what videos they have watched. That can allow teachers to get information on more than the videos they have seen.
"It is my goal to make sure teachers don't have to go anywhere to get CEUs but that we can provide all of it right here," Mobley said.
Curriculum specialist Kenneth Griswald said the program is good for say a music teacher because that teacher can watch videos specific to his or her own needs. Because there are so few music teachers, it may be difficult for the district to provide professional development specific to a music teacher. With this program, the teacher can more easily specialize their professional development.
Rob Hudson: Prior to this, what have we had in the district for the superintendent to follow up on principals observing in the district?
Mobley said the district had an ELS program that could be used on computers or iPads, but it did not send immediate emails and it did not allow you to send videos.
Board approves consent agenda.
Board approves docket of claims.
Human resources director Jim Turner is making the personnel report. There is one resignation on licensed staff. Classified staff have four new hires and four resignations, among others.
The district has two regular licensed positions that need to be filled, but it is very close to filling all of its positions, Turner said.
The board approves the personnel report.
Assistant superintendent Kim Britton will make a presentation about free- and reduced-lunch students.
The lower elementary schools show a gradual increase. The increase is greater in the K-2 schools than others. There is a small increase in 3-5 schools and Milam. Middle school has a small increase and THS has a small decrease.
Overall, the district has increased about 2 percent. She thinks some of that is due to reporting with FRL forms online.
"Many parents feel more comfortable filling out the forms online rather than having stigma of filling out reports by hand," Britton said.
It may also indicate a change in the situation for some families, Britton said.
The district has had 502 online applications to date, she said.
"When you look at the data, it may suggest an increase, but it may be an increase in reporting, not necessarily the number of students who are in poverty," Britton said.
Loden said every month the district will provide a report on ADA and on FRL students. If there is a trend, they will present about it.
Teacher of Distincition banquet will be held at the Summit on Sept. 21. IE-Day will be held on Oct. 31. On Oct. 30, educator William Daggett will hold a presentation for the general community. Daggett is a well-known educator.
Assistant Superintedent Diana Ezell will now discuss a change to the school calendar. Ezell said the 60 percent days were intended to provide extra professional development. Adding programs like PD360 allows for greater flexibility of professional development. Teachers are also having meetings after school on Wednesday afternoons.
"Since we went to a block schedule, having the 60 percent day has really disrupted instructional time," Ezell said.
She said the district will eliminate all remaining 60-percent days except Parent-Teacher Conferences in September and AEE day in October. It will also have early dismissal on the last day of each semester. All other days will become full school days.
That is something the state department will require next year, Ezell said. It will only allow districts to have those two days – the last day of each semester.
Board approves the calendar change.
Board is considering a work session in October.
The board is now entering executive session at 1:36 p.m.
Tupelo school board meeting will begin shortly. Four of the five board members are present. Board President Eddie Prather is not here right now.
Vice President Beth Stone just called the meeting to order. She said she wants to give a special thank you to district employees for a successful opening to the school year. She said Prather will not be here today.
Assistant Superintendent Matthew Dillon is making a presentation about current enrollment, comparing projected enrollment, last year's enrollment and actual enrollment.
Grade K-12, district is up 14 based on projections.
"We were looking to see if there were any major spikes or declines."
Grade 3-5 down 18 based on projections. Milam is down 6, the middle school is down 51 and the high school is down 15.
Average Daily Attendance is based on K-12...it is down 76 based on projections.
I have not yet received a copy of the data to be able to tell you what the numbers are. I will work to track that down, and we will have enrollment numbers in the paper once they become official, usually that is after Labor Day.
Beth Stone asks if the new residency requirements have anything to do with the numbers being down.
Dillon: Im sure that might have something to do with it...We are following that protocol closely to make sure we are serving our kids."
Superintendent Dr. Gearl Loden asks about affadavits.
Dillon said last year there were 386 or 387 at this time. Now there are a little over 200 now. They have an Aug. 31 deadline to work through those.
Testing coordinator Lea Johnson will now resent on the graduation rate, preliminary data.
Johnson: I want to stress, this is considered preliminary and none of it is official until the state school board approves it on Sept. 15.
"For the first time, the graduation rate will not be used this year to determine accountability."
She said a nine-person committee has been formed to look at graduation data and determine if it is fair to use in the accrediation model. Next year it will be put back in the model but maybe in a different form.
Johnson said there are two rates. The federal model uses a 4-year cohort. Kids who started in 08-09 and graduated in May 2012. You need a graduation rate greater than 66 percent or you need to be 10 percent greater than the previous year. The state uses a 5-year cohort.
Tupelo's preliminiary graduation rate is 74.6 for the 4-year cohort. The 5-year cohort is 72.4. It was 70.9 the year before. She said the rate can go up if they find kids who left Tupelo and graduated somewhere else.
Johnson said with a new program, the district has a tighter way to track its students so it doesn't lose them.
"We're nowhere near where we want to be. I'm not going to sugar coat that. We are lower than the state and we don't want to be there. But we have such forward momentum...I think we're going to see a big change this year. I really do.
"We'd love to be like Clinton and have 85 percent. We'd love to get there."
Loden talks about historical data for graduation. He said the highest U.S. graduation rate was in the 1970s, 76 percent when graduation standards were lower (no state tests and fewer credits required).
"When you are serving all of your children and increasing the rigor, you may flat line," Loden said.
Johnson: District has put in place a couple of things this year. Graduation coaches and other support staff. It is using the Accountability Analyzer program to better track students. She also said the switch to block schedule will help.
Board member Rob Hudson asks for more about what the district is doing to improve its graduation rate.
Johnson mentions assistant principal Niki Peel calling parents of at-risk students. She said the THS testing coordinator is working hard to schedule re-tests for students who have not passed the state test.
Loden said the graduation coach has been making home visits, he said Peel is monitoring student absences and he said retired teachers have been helping students who are struggling to pass the state test.
Johnson said last year six former seniors who didn't pass the state test came back and passed the test so they were able to graduate. Dillon said the district is working with some students in a similar situation this year. He said some teachers are mentoring students to make sure they stay on track throughout the year.
Loden: "One thing we are trying to massage, passing on the state test is high basic. The odds are against someone massing the subject area test, if they are not proficient on the MCT2 tests."
Community liasion Mary Ann Plascencia will present on a draft for district-wide report cards.
Plascencia said this has gone through several iterations. They started with school-wide report cards. This is a consolidation of those iterations.
"We are trying to capture what we think are critical elements to keep track of, to keep our eye on those district goals."
Some of the information comes from state report cards and NCLB report cards and some is specific to TPSD.
It includes a snapshot of students in the district, information on teachers (attendance, experience, credentials, how well TPSD has done recruiting minority teachers and how often the district uses substitute teachers), graduation rate, QDI, ranking, where the district ranks out of 152 districts, ACT information.
"We are hoping to capture all of this on a three-year trend."
On second page, is information about schools. Elementary grades will focus on reading and math and Classworks and another assessment. Prek-K will look at assesments given at beginning and end of year.
Data will also be broken out by subgroups.
In upper grades, district will calculate based on QDI by subgroup and whether or not 95 percent of students took the assessment, MCT2. In high school, it would be based on subject area test.
"We tried to make this as accessible as possible to everyone."
Loden: "I'd like to elaborate on QDI rank. Even though state doesn't rank us officially but you can look at the QDI and where we rank and how we move."
Loden: "We're excited about the information. As we get into this, I'm sure we'l have to have some changes and additions and deletions."
Board member Amy Heyer asks how the district will use it. Loden said they can post them at different places across the district and on the website.
Amy Heyer: "It is a good tool for transparency."
Plascencia: "We look forward to brining this to you again at a later date."
Board is discussing consent agenda. Board adopts consent agenda.
Board approves docket of claims
Personnel director Jim Turner presents personnel report. Board accepts personnel report.
Loden is now making a superintenent's report.
He said that beginning in September, the district will provide an average daily attendance report and an enrollment report. He said the district will point out any trends in the data. They will also present a report on free- and reduced-lunch rate.
Also, in honor of employee birthdays, the district will provide a sheet cake birthday cake at each of its schools on payday of each month.
"They'll know on pay day, it is time for a treat as a way to say thanks from the board and the district."
Loden said the district has released about 2,500 yard signs. Also, at the end of each 9-weeks, students on the honor roll will receive a sign to put in their yards.
Loden said the district is surveying its students about the opening of school. It will soon survey teachers and parents. It will do the parent surveys after all of the open houses.
At the next board meeting, the district will ask the board to revise the calendar. The district would like to reduce the number of 60-percent days. In order to feed all of the high school students, it takes all day and you lose a lot of instructional time, he said.
The district will have IE day and a parent conference day and will then go back to a traditional schedule. Plus, Loden said, the state will only allow two 60-percent days next year.
Mary Ann Plascencia is presenting on board goals. She said an outsider would wonder, who is watching whether these goals are being met. She said there is a real effort being made.
Plasencia: "Just the meetings Dr. Loden intends to have and is having with principals on a regular basis will be mindful of whether we are meeting these goals, and everyone having an eye on these goals will be very fruitful."
Plascencia said the goals will be displayed publicly throughout the district.
Plascencia: "I'm just real excited about this. I hope we meet every one of these indicators."
Board member Rob Hudson said some of the goals are easy to measure and some of them aren't. Most of the one that aren't are task-oriented. Plascencia said some of those can be met with various processes that will be initiated.
Hudson: "The goals were put togehter wehre there is not much fluff in them at all. The tasks that are presented would most likely lead us to improvement."
Hudson: "I do have a sense, Dr. Loden, that you ahve the goal built in to the way we operate our district. I don't feel like this is just writing goals for the sake of writing goals."
Board adopts the district's goals. We will soon have more details on these goals in the paper.
Finance Director Linda Pannell said 55 mills was not going to bring in what the district's estimate was. She is presenting the board with a revised budget resolution. The general operating request has been lowered by $104,000. There was some money Pannell had not included in the initial because she knew the budget was an estimate. She said the revised budget will only have $4,000 less in revenue.
The board approves the revised resolution.
Board is discussing future agenda topics. Hudson asks for an update on the Councils of Excellence.
Loden said the district will have its test security and safety plan at its next meeting.
There is no need for an executive session.
The board adjorns at 1:01 p.m.
Loden asks the board, if the 57-meeting is a record. I'd say it may be the shortest one I've attended.
Today's Tupelo School Board meeting has begun. Board members Beth Stone, Eddie Prather, Amy Heyer and Rob Hudson are present. Kenneth Wheeler is not currently here.
Board Vice President Beth Stone is speaking about a conference that school board members attended over the summer. It was a regional school board meeting hosted by Mississippi.
Stone: "The issues we face are not unique to the Tupelo Public School District. In fact, they are quite universal."
Said it helps to bounce ideas back and forth. Also said district is fortunate to ahve a community that provides resources.
Stone said she attended a session about interactive white boards. She said they allow teachers to get instant response about whether students really understand concepts.
Another session dealt with ways to lower the dropout rate. It used a computer program that identified early warning signs. Once students had a certain number of warning signs, a team could come in and intervene to help the child.
Stone: "We don't just get information from the feelings of folks. We need data to back up that information...We need to look at our weaknesses and address those to make sure we become a better district."
Board President Eddie Prather said he attended a session of funding and using it to support programs in place to help students. He learned of some possible grant opportunities through AT&T.
He also attended a session about a code of conduct for school board members. "We have a great relationship with our administration, but you never know if something could go astray if you don't have a roadmap." Prather has an example of a code that the board may want to consider adopting.
At another session, an educator talked about the impact that teachers have on stuents' lives years after the student was in the classroom. "We don't ever need to mark anyone off," Prather said.
Superintendent Greal Loden said he enjoyed the session on graduation rates and learned from some things that Louisiana is doing.
The Board is now recognizing groups that helped get the school year started: transportation, technology and maintenenace departments. Representatives from all three departments are now present at the meeting.
Assistant Superintendent Kim Britton said in late May/ early June, the technology department began repairing MacBook cases. They did so for about a month when Apple gave the district the opportunity to send back 4,500 laptops for those covers to be replaced. She said they worked long hours to get them boxed and shipped to California. When they arrived back in Tupelo, they had to be re-barcoded. "They've worked long hours and done all of this for our students." Brittion said THS and TMS distributed all of their MacBooks the first week of school and that the district is currently working to distribute them to the sixth-graders.
Loden: The average person does not realize, when you have 4,500 MacBooks ready to go and then you replace the cases and when you get those back, every one had to be barcoded and re-inventoried.
Assistant Superintendent Diana Ezell is now talking about transportation. She said that Lee Stratton has done a tremendous job getting all of the buses ready to go this year. Stratton is executive director of extracurriculars and director of transportation.
Ezell: "They get up before the sun rises and they remarkably had all of our students in place last Friday by 4:40, which is a record for the beginning of school...The transportation department and bus drivers have done a fabulous job."
Stratton said the district has almost 70 drivers. Every position and every monitoring position was filled at the beginning of school, he said.
Stratton noted the department has worked through a few issues. He said they figured out a way to establish a route that allowed them to seperate students in the district's alternative school and students in the High School Advancement Academy on seperate buses. Another issue is that middle school and high school students share buses, Stratton said. They are trying to find a way to solve that so students are not waiting a long time after school for their bus.
Stratton said they've started their process of transporting teachers' children back to the teachers' school at the end of the day. He said that process started on Monday. He read an email from a teacher thanking them for the service.
Assistant Superintendent Matthew Dillon is thanking the maintenance department. He also thanks Pam Traylor from the Office for Student Services for her work over the summer handling residency issues.
Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction Leigh Mobley is now providing an update on the department.
She said the department has worked hard to implement the new Classworks computer program and Reading Street computer program. She said Reading Street is the first consistent reading program (K-6) the district has had in a long time.
The department has worked to provide curriculum documents, assesments, professional development and support across the district, Mobley said.
She said the department will focus on consistency between what is required, what is taught and what is tested.
The department is making videos to help teachers get onto Classworks and Reading Streets. They will also communicate through newsletters and Haiku. They are developing calendars that will be on the website and that they can provide to teachers.
Board approves consent agenda with several items.
Board approves claims docket.
Human Resources Director Jim Turner is presenting about personnel. Board approves the human resources report.
Loden has two updates for the board. He said the district's homeless program was monitored on June 30 and was given satisfactory marks by the Mississippi Department of Education.
Also Dr. Loretta Hartfield of Rankin Elementary was chosen as a state-level finalist for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching program.
Finance Director Linda Pannell is presenting the budget. She said there were a couple of tweaks but that it didn't change much since the July 31 budget hearing. The budget calls for .68 fewer mills this year than it did last year for debt service, meaning there could be a slight tax decrease, Pannell said.
Board member Rob Hudson said the distrit has its work cut out for it to manage costs and increase student learning. He said he spent a lot of time on the phone with Pannell yesterday and she was able to answer his questions.
Eddie Prather said the board will start work sessions to start planning for next year's budget.
The board adopts the budget.
Loden said that test score data will be embaroged until Sept. 15, but that the district is expecting good things from those.
Board goes into executive session to discuss a personnel issue.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
Board approves the consent agenda.
Board approves the docket of claims.
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.
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.
Board clears the room for an executive session for a personnel matter.