Board meeting has begun. The board will discuss the agenda at this meeting and will vote at tonight's meeting, at 5 p.m. at Joyner Elementary.
Four board members are preset: Amy Heyer, Eddie Prather, Beth Stone and Rob Hudson. Lee Tucker's term has expired and he has not yet been replaced.
Interim Superintendent David Meadows is making a presentation on part 4 of his "Moving Forward Together" plan. It involves communication between the district and the community. Meadows said it may be good to reformalize that goal.
The four parts of his "Moving Forward Together Plan" released over the summer include:
• Recommit to safe, healty schools
• Reconfirm highly qualified teachers and administrators were frontline instructional leaders
• Reesatblish focus on student achievement and academic excellence
• Re-communicate the eight recommendations of the curriculum audit.
Meadows said that focus on this recommendation could help the community "unite behind our new superintendent."
Meadows said that the school board agreed to meet in groups of two with various community members and that administrators were present for some of those meetings (if the constituent desired them to be there).
Meadows: "I would like to recommend that we build on that...By April 10, I would hope we could collect, compile and share the common themes."
Meadows said that some of the themes that he found include: improved student discipline (expectation and students being in a relationship that is fair, firm and consistent), improved academic achievement, an increased focus on teamwork (if silos exist, tear down those silos, be willing to focus on students, instructional leaders and support and resources), do whatever we need to do in terms of restoring trust and confidence (Meadows: "I spoke earlier in the year on trust. I recall saying trust must be built one person at a time, and trust can't be given, it must be earned."), create a culture of personal and collective accountability (understanding there are multiple customers, primary customer being student but also closely related to parent and communty; Meadows said always be thoughtful of customer service and respect to customer), how we overemphasize testing especially with younger students, what about technology (things need to be looked at and addressed), what are we doing with textbooks.
(Parenthesis note Meadow's ellaboration on each point).
He hopes that board members could also share some things that they saw.
"That would hopefully serve as the chasis for this vehicle that we can hopefully provide together to give Dr. Loden and our school board a broad look about what our stakeholders tell us about the Tupelo Public School District and for each stakeholder to feel like he or she has had opportunity to tell us their opinion."
Meadows calls for a Council of Excellence in each school to be able to discuss and resolve school-specific and district-specific issues.
By April 10, Meadows, recommends board to think of all of the various stakeholder teams that have a hold on the Tupelo Public School District.
Meadows: "Let the stakeholder groups come forward with the representatives they think need to be available."
Includes parents, teachers, etc. He said for stakeholder groups to come forward and say who should be represented.
Meadows said they should consider using an outside facilitator to serve the Council of Excellence concept. That facilitator should be used to help with the process.
Meadows would like to announce that process by April 10.
He said he would like there to be a report by May 22 with broad constituent input on the issues and opportunities.
Rob Hudson said he thinks it is a great opportunity to involve the stakeholders. He said the stakeholders can help with the integrity of the process by noting whom they think would be needed in their group (such as an outside facilitator).
Eddie Prather said the board's meetings with community members was helpful and that the board looks forward to giving Meadows a report from those meetings.
THS Principal Jason Harris is giving a report on the transition to block scheduling. He said that the master schedule is nearly complete and they have been able to work in athletics and other extra-curriculars.
He said that department chairs have had a lot of input into the scheduling, discussing placement and configuration. For instance, they will look at some AP science classes being year-long two-credit classes leading to AP exam in the spring.
Harris said the Kagan training has been a defining moment for the high school. It included four days of trainers going into the classroom and observing every teacher for 20 minutes. He said that teachers called it the best training they had received in years.
The block scheduling committee will be hosting Q-and-A sessions. One will be on Monday at the High School. They will also host sessions at St. James Catholic Church and at Haven Acres.
Harris said that TMS Principal Kristy Luse has communicated the information with the eighth-graders (next year's freshmen).
Harris said there are many different versions of block. He said the high school will use a tweaked version that will accomodate athletics and extra curriculars (he said that athletics and activities make Tupelo High School great). He said they made add a Zero-period for remediation.
Harris said that the teachers are ready to start implementing the block schedule.
Eddie Prather asks about the logistics of students making scheduling changes. Harris said that in the past, they will come anyway and see and make sure their schedule is right. He said they are also looking at data on placement of students and making sure they are set up for success and not failure, looking at how they have scored on MCT tests.
Harris said that on the block when there are students who are struggling, you can build supports for them.
Next item is the consent agenda. Includes charter bus service for field trips, rental service for school facilities and donations.
Pam Traylor presents student transfer report. Includes 11 in-district transfers and admission of two non-resident tuition students.
Jim Turner presents personnel report.
Turner said he just returned from a recruiting trip to Alcorn State University and that he has also gone on such trips to University of Memphis and to Delta State University. From those three trips, there are 32 applications interested in Tupelo Schools. Of those, Turner said, one third are highly-qualified minority applicants. Turner said he has provided their names to the district's principals.
Linda Pannell is presenting the financial statements. She then presented the cash flow statements.
Pam Traylor is presenting student discipline report.
Assistant Superintendent Fred Hill will make a presentation about options for the district's alternative programs.
Hill wants to explain how Ombudsman program came to be and to provide some data. March 30 is the deadline for determining whether or not to move on.
Hill said that during the summer of 2010, the district went into a contract with Ombudsman. The program was designed to serve both academic and disciplinary students. Started with 30 studnets and grew. The school began focusing more on discipline than on academics so they saw a need for transitioning program. They had 60 spots but added an extra 30 spots in the spring of 2011.
Ombudsman said their focus was more on academics, so the district revised its alternative programs. It needed a plan to seperate high school students for discipline and academic. It added the HSAA Academy upper level for students who were behind in the upper grades. The Structure Day Program was added for studnets with discipline problems.
The began the year with spots for 90 students at Ombudsman. Enrollment was down, so in January they reduced that to serve 60 students.
Ombudsman was wrapped in the HSAA Upper Grades program. Designed for students who were two or more years behind cohort. Designed for students to remain in the program for one successful year. The primary method of instruction is the A computer program.
Hill said that what makes the Ombudsman program unique is that students can forgo seat hours to receive Carnegie units (credit). Students can get as many as 12 credits in a year, while students at the high school can only get 7 or 8. Students can work at their own pace. They can graduate with traditional graduation requirement or with district option (which the school board approved earlier in the year).
At the beginning of the year, 78 students at THS were identified as behind 2 or more years behind. 37 students are currently enrolled. 70 studnets were identified to attend. 15 never enrolled (a lot of them were 19 or older). 8 enrolled in other programs (2 in school age mother, 3 in structure day, etc.), 9 transfer out of district, 9 dropeed out, 1 elected to enroll in THS, 1 completed graduation requirements midyear, 9 transferred from Structured Day Program into Ombudsman program, 1 Tupelo Middle School student advanced to being a THS student.
In the Ombudsman program, an average of 4 credits have been received. Hill said that number will go up with 7 weeks left.
2 students can graduate with 26 credits. And 10 can potentially graduate with 21 credits (if they meet testing requirements).
Potential enrollment for 2012-12 is 88. 20 are willing to return. 68 studnets may be 2 years behind cohorts.
Hill is looking at a cost comparision.
Based on 60 students, Ombudsman contract is $483,000. Staff would include director, 5 teachers, part-time counselor and secretary.
Hill said that if the district were to staff it themselves. Salaries would be $498,315, plus $23,600 for A program and money for computers (didn't get that total). Total would be $581,115.
Hill said if the district would compare it to what Ombudsman actually has there. (fewer staff and no security officer), cost would by $453,988.
Hill said his recommendation is to provide a notice of non-renewal to Ombudsman to meet the March 30 deadline.
Hill said the district is already paying extra to fund security at Ombudsman.
Hill said that the district decided last summer to no longer off the Ombudsman diploma.
Prather said that at one time, we thought the student could graduate from there and not count as a dropout from us. Hill said that no longer is an option. Meadows said that now all students must pass the state test to be able to graduate.
Hill said that junior colleges were not accepting the Ombudsman program. Hill said that they decided that students in Ombudsman program needed to graduate with TPSD diplomas so there was no question whether they could use that degree to go on to college.
Heyer said that if the district does not go with Ombudsman, it would get back control over the program and autonomy. She said that when the program didn't meet Tupelo's standards, the district couldn't do anything about it.
Fred Hill said the cost comparision that compares apples to apples is the $453,988 for the district to run it compared to $483,000 for Ombudsman. The other cost comparision ($581,115) includes costs that the district is already paying in addition to the $483,000 it pays to Ombudsman.
Prather asks Hill how, besides cost, he defines success of the Ombudsman program.
Hill: It is always good when students walk away from there with diplomas in their hand, and it if they stayed at Tupelo High School, they wouldn't have had that opportunity (not because of a problem with THS but because of extra opportunities provided by Ombudsman).
Hill said the program should continue, whether they go forward with Ombudsman or not.
Diana Ezell is making a presentation about the Summer Opportunity Camp. It will be in June at Lawndale. She said there are a lot of offerings, including music and art. It will start June 4 and end June 29. Cost is $80 per camp and $60 for any additional camps.
Prather asks about how many kids participate.
Ezell said that last year, they had to add classes. There are spots for 300 students (15 per class).
Ezell said there will also be camps at the high school. She said it is the first time they are offering camps up to 12th grade.
Evet Topp is presenting the Career-Technical Center Local Plan update. It includes the new digital media technology program.
Board will discuss future agenda topics.
David Meadows said that in the minutes are: an update on Moving Forward Together (done today), an update on video security cameras at THS (Meadows said he'd like to add to that report, cameras at Tupelo Middle and at Church Street...He said updating those will include a large expenditure of funds because it will include new servers....Meadows said the update was built into this year's budget with anticipation of doing it over two years).
Meadows said the district has taken the imput from schools on the points where it needs additional cameras.
Meadows said the board has also requested a listing of academic competitive teams to which students can become members. He said the district has had tremendous success: four teams moving to national competitions (bridge buildings, math teams). He said they reestablished academic decathlon team and that THS hosted its first debate.
Meadows said the board also wants a grant summary at the end of the year and an extra-curricular report.
Prather said the board has talked about a work session. They may pick dates at the next meeting.
Board considers a temporary executive session to consider a personnel issue and a possible student matter.