Tupelo School Board meeting has begun at the Hancock Center. All five board members are present.
Interim Supt. David Meadows is handing out a packet with changes to the agenda. He is asking for the board to allow Jeffrey Norwood to start immediately as graduation coach and for incoming assistant superintendent Matthew Dillon to be added as a consultant before officially starting on July 1.
He is also asking for the board to consider a change in administartive organization.
He said that the state has affirmed there will not be any changes to the MAEP salary structure for teachers. Meadows is asking the board to consider its pay scales, which will allow the district to produce teacher contracts as quickly as possible.
The board will not vote on any items at this meeting, but will do so during its evening meeting, at 5 p.m. today at Lawndale Elementary. It will hear presentations about the agenda.
Board members Eddie Prather and Beth Stone are making a presentation about their trip to the National School Board Association's annual conference.
Prather said that school districts across the country are having concerns getting information out about Common Core curriculum. He also attended a session about boards and superintendents setting goals. At the session, they said that the important thing is to remain focused on student achievement. They also said that it is important to be transparent and not have a hidden agenda.
Prather also attended a session on improving board performance through self evaluation. He said it is important that the board hold itself accountable.
Prather said that Tupelo is doing some things to communicate the change to Common Core but that it should also look at other things it can do.
He attended a session about transitions to a new superintendent. Prather said it is important to create opportunities for successful and that the board and superintendent need to be on the same page.
Stone said that she and Prather attended seperate smaller sessions and met up for the general sessisons. One of her sessions was about strategic planning, it was led by a school district from Milwaukee. They talked about the theme of continuous improvement from day to day.
She said that the district sends a document to its stakeholders at the begining of each year outlining its strategic plan along seven different strands. Throughout the year, it studies and assesses the data it has and looks for ways to improve. The following year, the district provides a report from each of those strands with key results from the previous school year. It also had board learning sessions. They discussed things they wanted more information about and that they wanted to learn more about. They took onsite visits to see things in action.
Stone also went to a session on professional development that stressed importance of continuous improvement -- every day there should be some type of continual improvement that you could call "professional development."
She went to a session on one-to-one laptop program and ways to continuously improve it. One of the common sessions was on the Kahn Academy, an online program that particularly works with math and science. It is a free online site, and Stone said that if parents know about it, they can use it to give their children extra help. Stone said they can be very useful over the summer, perhaps churches can provide access.
Prather talked about boards looking at their policies in response to the incident in Florida where there was a shooting at a school board meeting a couple of years ago.
Dale Warriner will make a presentation with a synopsis of the district's federal programs responsibilities.
Warriner: We prepare applications with input from stakeholders and present to the school board and for approval at the state level. We bring ammendments throughout the year, hopefully for increased funding.
Mary Ann Plasencia will make a presentation on the "Conucils of Excellence."
"I've think we've just put more bones to this framework. We are open to suggestions. We are jsut at the starting phase of this."
Goal is to start the first council at the high school. Goal is to offer a structured way to gather information from stakeholders to improve student achievement.
Hope is that this is another vehicle, a meaningful vehcile for 2-way disucssions with the community.
Hope to do some preparatory work during the summer and launch in the fall. Still have gaps to work though.
The process will be supported through an outsie facilitator, who was not yet selected.
"We thought it would be helpful to have someone who is neutral and who is experienced in this type of conversation."
Idea is for council to identify two or three issues. May need personnel to gather data.
"Whatever we need to do so that subgroup can make whatever recomendations to remove whatever barrier that is to learnig."
Would then make recommendations to the larger group, to the district and to the board.
Suggesting between 12 and 20 members. At the high school, would involve faculty Senate, representation of parents from all grades, student members, representatives from the district, business community, faith community and alumni community.
They would hope for a two-year commitment.
Plasencia said that during the long-range planning committee there was a similar commitment. The hope is that members would take it serriously and would be take attendance serriously.
"We want to make this as simple as possible in terms of what is driving that counicl and we hope members of the council would focus on three questions."
what needs the most attention at this school? What could it look likfe? How do we sustain it."
Said it would be helpful for converation to stay confidential and for the issues raised to be ones that are universal in the school community. Said it is improtant to stay in line with strategic plan.
Would like to have a facilitator sometime in June to launch this and give it more structure. Would then like to identify members to serve. One way is to allow community members to appyly, to volunteer and go though an application progess. (Said other districts have done that).
Hope to launch the council some time before school starts and start making some recommendations by the falll and to have some solutions during the winter.
Plasencia said her hope is that this beocmes a permanet vehicle at our schools, that we consider this a best practice to continue two-way dialogue.
Meadows: "I didnt feel like we should rush into this. We should very intentionally design and systemically lay it out and gather input at we go."
Prather: Board meetings are bound by law to conduct business. FOr the community and stakeholders to provide input and share ideas, this would give us an outlet to do that.
He asks that they look at the legal issues of what the board can and can't do.
"One thing that would really effect us is if the council comes up with a suggstion that we can't do."
Stone suggests staggered terms for when people rotate off the council so you don't lose an entire group at once.
Pam Traylor will present the student transfer report. Approval of admission of six non-resident (tuition) students and of several students transfering to different schools.
Jim Turner is presenting the personnel report. Includes the hiring of two personnel for 12-13 school year, a new position, four retirements, 11 resignations, etc.
For 12-13 school year, there are 28 forcasted vacant positions for licensed staff and 6 non-licensed staff positions.
Meadows is now speaking about the graduation coach position. He said that as Ms.
"It seems almost impossible that a year has passed last April and May. I know now several things that I did not know earlier. One of the most positive things I can report on....Do y'all recall I almost casually mentiond that we started taking a look at Tupelo High School to see how many of our students were enrolled in classes to meet the right number of Carnegie Units." Found 100 students whose schedules were changed.
Meadows said the talk about there being 100 THS students who would graduate were untrue rumors.
Meadows said they found 71 people who were in jeopardy of not passing because of failure to pass state tests. Foucused on setting up a tutoring program. "I wish I could say all 71 passed one or four different tests. That didn't happen, but 41 did." Some had to pass all four tests and did.
"Thanks to those retired teachers and others who worked, regular classroom teachers gave thier time freely, it has been a joint effort."
Among those young people who will walk across the stage will be four people who left last year with a certificate of completition. On May 18, they will be given a Tupelo High diploma. They also have one or more people who have been out for at least two school years who will walk across the stage. They have 36 others who have passed the state tests.
If board approves Norwood to start now, he would work 55 days at his daily rate (until his current official start date of July 1). It will cost the district about $13,000. Said the he and new superintendent Gearl Loden know of at least 30 studnets who need that help now. They also need to work with students in the extended school program this summer.
Meadows said they will also be looking at High School Advancement Academy. 17 of the 24 students at the School Aged Mothers program will graduate. At HSAA, of the original students, 26 or 27 of them will graduate this year.
"I see the graduation coach, we need to get him in harness, so that we get that 100 percent," Meadows said. "While we can talk about graduation rate, what I am telling you about is the young people who will be walking across the state on May 18 who would not have....I literally had chills go through me when I learned about those young people who would not have graduated and they came back in."
Meadows asks the board to allow Dr. Matthew Dillon to come in immediately as a consultant at his daily rate of $540.
"We need help immediately," he said. "We are on academic watch...We are asking you to allow Dr. Dillon to come on and work as many days as he can, maybe 10 or so in May and a few more in June."
Loden said he will have fewer than 10 days in Mday because he is finishing at Pearl.
Prather asks about how many days they are expecting in June so they will know for the budget. He asks if Loden can provide that information during the next board meeting.
Meadows said they found money in the budget for that. They will vote on it tonight.
Meadows is talking about a first-reading of the abstinence education policy.
Last year, Haley Barbour signed into law HB999, which had specific requirements for abstinence education. Tupelo has had an abstinence education policy in place since at least February of 2000. Meadows said Tupelo's stretch was not in creating a new policy but in tweaking it.
There are two choices in the law: abstinence only or abstinence plus. Abstinence plus says you "must" teach all of the things in the law, while abstinence-only says you "may" teach these things. Meadows said that abstinence-only is the standard in Mississippi.
Meadows is recommending that the TPSD continue to adhere to state standard of abstinence education as standard of its sexual education policy. They will go with "abstinence-only" which says they "may" teach several of the points made in the law.
Meadows said the district has most of the requirements in its current policy but that it will tweak some of the points.
Meadows said the district has already been implementing it in 7th grade. It has been using a program called "Wait Time" that is taught by trained volunteers.
Meadows would recommend the district continue to designate seventh grade. This year, more than 95 percent of students participated in seveth grade, that means those students' parents opted-in.
The district also piloted it this year in health classes at Tupelo High School.
Meadows is recommedning abstienence only at grade 7 and is recommending "Wait Time" curriculum.
The law requires it to be an opt-in or opt-out program. Parents have to sign whether they want kids to participate or to sign that they do not want students to participate. In the event they do not have a signed form, he will recommend they do not put a child into the include group until they have contacted a parent or guardian.
This is the first reading of the policy. The board will not vote on it until May 22.
The district must send the policy, the identified curriuclum and the protocol to the state by July 1.
Meadows said that even if they choose the seventh graders, they can still continue to also offer it to the ninth graders.
Meadows said that Parkgate has trained a large group of volunteers.
Rob Hudson said that he did a five-day stint volunteering with it this year. He said there was a good turnout, that it was a surprisingly good experience and that the kids were receptive.
Hudson said that Parkgate's board also got good feedback about the ninth-grade curriculum.
Meadows said that parents would be free to come and read the curriculum.
Meadows is discussing update for the responsible access and use policy. The policy must be tweaked to contain langauge now required by federal law.
Dr. Fred Hill is presenting some changes needed to the extended school year and summer school policy.
Putting in correct dates and times, start of class and length of the day.
Also remove from 2008 draft, remove driver's education summer school schedule from that.
Dale Warriner will present about the federal programs aplication. They always guarantee 85 percent of the previous year's allocation. For Title 1 and Title 2.
The budget will include funding ECEC with the 12 classrooms (same number as this yaer), support staff, class size reduction for first grade, parent involvement, professional development, technology, software, materials and supplies.
On ECEC, Warriner said application process is booming right now and that it has seemed to have taken hold.
Warriner said the district received an extra $229 in flow-through dollars for the Juvenile Detention Center.
Warriner is presenting the application for the McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program grant.
Warriner said they tell you to write the grant for $25,000 but last year the allocation was about $47,000.
Children in shelters receive after-school tutoring. It provides school supplies and certain technology.
Warriner said the district has 437 homeless students as of April. Homeless is defined by several criteria: the largest group is dobuled-up (living with another family because parents can't own their own home), also some living in hotels, on the streets at the Salvation Army Shelter.
"We have various types of situations," Warriner said.
Warriner is presenting about Camp Possiblity, for homeless youth. Last year the camp was four weeks and allocation was decreased. They are now looking to offer it for two weeks. It has been coordinated to provide breakfast and lunch with the camp inbetween for homeless students. The lead teacher will be Pam McAllily. It will be at the middle school and will be an enrichment program.
Warriner inlcuded some details about what will be included in those weeks. There will be counselors and instructional types of counseling sessions. It will serve 40-50 students.
Finance Director Linda Pannell will talk about a consideration to refinance the district's debt.
She said each year Jim Young looks at the district's debt to see if it can be refinanced. Last year, it couldn't. This year, there are debts that may be able to be refinanced. The board's resolution would allow him to go to banks and see how much the district could save.
An estimate would be $289,000 to $300,000 between now and the 2016-17 school year. That is about $42,000 to $50,000 each year, Pannell said, noting that it is about a teacher's salary.
David Meadows will present an administrative/ organizational chart. The board has two policies that cover this now.
Meadows included both policies and quoted out of policy CC. It says the supt. is authorized to reorganize the lines of auhtority.
Under policy CCB, Meadows said it notes that lines of authority not restrict the cooperative working together of all individuals at all levels. Meadows said that Loden is working to create a cooperative team effort.
Meadows is recommending that the board approves the elimination of the deputy superintendent position from the organizational chart. It would move Diana Ezell in a lateral move into assistant superintendent.
It would allow Loden to reorganize with three assistant superintendents.
Meadows: "With the two assistant superintendents we currently have, I often can't tell where one ends and the other begins. It is a matter of being a team and doing what we need to do to support students and support teachers in an efficient and effective manner."
Loden said that this is the first step in reorganization. He will have new job descriptions in June. He looked at what 12 other districts have done.
Meadows said that for Ezell it would simply be a lateral move and would not effect pay.
Prather said that if the district wishes to eliminate the Chief Operating Officer position, which is currently vacant, it would need to adopt a new organizational chart anyway.
Board is discussing salary scale. Meadows said he always feels it is important to get teaching contracts to teachers before they leave for the summer.
Meadows said the district built itself a schedule that if the board approves, they will begin tomorrow calculating and printing contracts so they can put them in teachers' hands on Wednesday, May 16.Teachers will have 30 days once they get contracts in their hands.
The instructional staff salary guide will not change. The board approved a $100 increase to the local supplement last year. The district is at 55 mils on operation, meaning it can not go higher on that in tax collection. In local contribution, that amount will cost two teacher units, a little over $81,000. Thus, Meadows said at this time, he would not recommend, at this time, increasing the local supplement this year.
If the district approved it, the only way they could reduce it is to reduce the number of working days. Tupelo is currently at 189 days for teachers, two above the state minimum. Meadows said he doesn't want the district to be at the minimum.
Meadows also included the supplementary pay plan and said he would not recommend increasing those supplements. He said that the board and Dr. Loden could visit chaning that at another time.
Meadows said that if the board wants to increase the supplements, those contracts could always be ammended with that.
Meadows said that Tupelo's salary scale for a beginning teacher with a bachelor's degree is about $34,000, while for the state it is $30,900. "Isn't that a wonderful thing for the Tupelo Public School District?" Meadows said. "That is what prior boards and you have done for the Tupelo Public School District. That is what makes Tupelo a special place to work."
The board meeting is adjourned until its 5 p.m. meeting at Lawndale. It will vote during that meeting.