August 22, 2002
The Board of Directors of the Little Rock School District held its regularly scheduled meeting at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 22, 2002, in the Boardroom of the Administration Building, 810 West Markham Street, Little Rock, Arkansas. President Baker Kurrus presided.
T. Kenneth James, Superintendent of Schools
Beverly Griffin, Recorder of Minutes
I. CALL TO ORDER / ROLL CALL
President Baker Kurrus called the meeting to order at 5:00 p.m. All members of the Board were present at roll call. There were no ex-officio representatives to the Board for the month of August.
II. PROCEDURAL MATTERS / WELCOMING COMMENTS
Mr. Kurrus made brief opening remarks and welcoming comments.
III. REPORTS/RECOGNITIONS/PUBLIC COMMENTS
There were no citations for presentation this month. Ex-officio representatives were unable to attend due to opening of school activities.
B. Remarks from Citizens
Frank Martin was present and addressed the Board regarding a question on the calculation of the third year of the negotiated salary schedule. He reminded the Board that the current three-year contract provided salary increases in the amount of 4.25% the first year, and 2.875% each year during the second and third years. In addition, additional raises were to be granted if additional revenue became available. He asked the administration to provide final revenue statements for the most current school year as soon as those figures become available.
In addition, Mr. Martin stated that the Board of the Classroom Teachers Association had recently passed three formal motions:
1. To make no recommendation to the membership (voting body) until all revenue has been finalized for the 2001-2002 school year.
2. The Executive Board of the LR CTA directs the Executive Director and the President to inform the school Board by no later than the end of the Board meeting August 22, 2002, that a serious problem exists concerning what the staff is expecting in salary and what the administration says is due.
3. That we request from the LRSD information concerning extra revenue from the 2001-2002 school year by September 1.
He said that these issues were being brought forth at this time because the revenue situation has not been addressed by the administration and they have been told that they could expect these final reports in early fall. He feels that it is a very crucial, serious matter but that all parties should be given an opportunity to work it out.
D. Joshua Intervenors
Ms. Springer was not present at the scheduled time for presentation, but she did attend and made remarks at the end of the regular business portion of the agenda.
Ms. Springer read a prepared statement concerning the learning environment at Central High School. She contended “that Central High School is not truly a desegregated public school; rather it is two schools within one building.” She asserted that the majority of African American students are separated into regular, vocational and special education classes, while the “smart white kids” are housed on the third floor with advanced placement courses taught by a disproportionately white faculty. She asked the Board to sit down with representatives of Joshua and cooperatively work through concerns regarding equal educational opportunities for African American children.
IV. REPORTS AND COMMUNICATIONS
Ms. Magness thanked everyone for a great school opening. She was pleased to see things running smoothly.
Dr. Mitchell echoed Ms. Magness’ comments. In addition, she announced that she is holding free workshops for people who have completed the requirements for their degree, but who still need to take the Praxis exams. These sessions will be held at Philander Smith College starting Wednesday, August 28 at 4:00 p.m.
Mr. Berkley and Mr. Kurrus also expressed thanks for the smooth opening of school. In addition, Mr. Kurrus thanked everyone for their patience. There are slight inconveniences at some of the construction sites.
In addition Mr. Kurrus reminded viewers that in an election year, negative comments on education are front-page news and that it’s easy to overlook the positives. The LRSD is doing a good job for the kids and the community. We have provided annual teacher salary increases, we are focused on early childhood education programs, and facility improvements and technology upgrades are in progress. We should remember these things when we overhear negative comments on public education.
Mr. Rose stated we have had a successful beginning to the new school year. He noted that this marks his third year on the Board, and he stated his experiences have been “frustrating beyond belief, but rewarding beyond measure.” He remarked that he had begun to question home school parents and challenge some of their reasons for home schooling. He noted that some students come to us from a background of poverty and neglect, but that our teachers do the best job to teach every student. Our schools are safe and public schools do work.
Mr. Babbs reported that our attorneys had filed our final motion in response to the recent court hearings. The judge has promised to enter his final order sometime this fall.
In addition, Mr. Babbs provided enrollment figures from the first day of school. He noted that first day counts are not always 100% accurate, but the numbers are encouraging as we are up by thirty-five students. In addition, two new kindergarten classes have been added; one at Meadowcliff and one at Stephens. The 11th day count, on September 4, will be provided for review at the September agenda meeting.
Dr. Stewart reported no significant budget issues at the current time. The staff is working to complete the draft budget for presentation at the September agenda meeting.
Mr. Eaton reported on the progress of various construction projects. He also thanked the contractors and District personnel who worked hard over the past few weeks to make sure our schools were ready for the first day of school. He noted that many of the asbestos projects and small school site projects were completed over the summer months.
In addition, Mr. Eaton noted that federal funds had been granted to improve the old Gillam School building, which the District leases to the Watershed program. These funds were made available to schools located near airports. It is expected that major projects will begin before the end of the year at McClellan, Mann Magnet Middle School and J. A. Fair High School. Parkview and Central High construction projects are expected to be continuing until December of 2005. Projects at Bale, Cloverdale, Jefferson and Otter Creek should be finished by spring 2003.
Internal Auditors’ Report was printed as part of the Board’s agenda.
Mr. Becker was present, and responded to questions regarding training for coordinators of fundraising activities.
Ms. Neal’s report was printed in the Board’s agenda. In addition, she reported that the media retrieval systems in the five magnet schools were operating successfully and would allow the teachers in those schools better access to instructional materials and streamline the process for the media clerks.
Johnny Johnson, Director of Athletics, provided a written summary of Title IX requirements and activities. A copy of his report was provided to the Board with their agenda materials, and he indicated he would be pleased to provide similar information on a regular basis.
Minutes from the regular meeting of the Board of Directors held on July 25, 2002, were presented for review and approval. Dr. Mitchell made a motion to approve the minutes as presented. Mr. Berkley seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
Dr. Lesley and members of the Curriculum and Instruction staff reviewed the newly developed Pre-K through 12 writing curriculum. It is expected that this curriculum guide will be easier for teachers to use to align classroom instruction with the standards and benchmarks in order to raise expectations and student achievement. Suzi Davis, Director of English, reviewed the document for students in grades 6 – 12, and noted that a one-hour workshop is available for teachers who have not yet been trained in using the new writing curriculum.
Pat Price, Director of Early Childhood Education, reported that the Pre-K through fifth grade guides were being developed in alignment with ELLA and Effective Literacy components. Fifth grade teachers will receive the content guide for grades 6 – 12 to insure a smooth and consistent transition between elementary and middle school delivery of instruction. The elementary guides, “Raising a Writer,” will be ready for distribution and full implementation by the end of September.
The Board took a brief recess and reconvened at 6:25 p.m.
Dr. Lesley reported that results from grade 4, 6 and 8 benchmark exams were expected in time for presentation at this meeting, but that they were not yet available. However, results from Algebra I, Geometry and Literacy exams had been received and she provided key results and a brief overview.
A copy of the slide presentation was provided for the Board’s review. Highlighted areas of success included:
§ The District and all five high schools improved in the number of students performing at or above the proficient level and reduced the number / percent of students scoring at the lowest level in Algebra I. Six of the eight middle schools improved performance in Algebra I, and three middle schools reduced the percent of students performing at the lowest level.
§ The District and four of the five high schools improved in Geometry during the 2001-02 school year. Three of the five high schools reduced the number of students performing in the below basic category.
§ The District improved by 15 percentage points from the 2000-2001 to the 2001-2002 administration of the Literacy test. All five high schools improved in general for African American and white students, and reduced the percent of students performing at the below basic level.
In addition to the slide presentation, Dennis Glasgow reviewed strategies and plans to improve student performance on the end-of-course algebra and geometry exams. He was pleased to report that 25% of the District’s students improved in geometry, moving out of the “below basic” category. It was noted that twenty-eight of the District’s mathematics teachers volunteered to take a three-hour graduate course in geometry over the summer months as a means of improving their ability to deliver quality instruction to their students.
Mr. Glasgow also advised the Board that a software package, Riverdeep, has aided in the remediation of students who were having trouble with concepts in algebra and geometry. This is a web-based instructional program that students and parents can access from home. The Riverdeep management system allows the District to set the proficiency rate, and students are given the opportunity to review and retest on areas of deficiency.
The SMART summer program has also helped lower-achieving and minority students to gain skills necessary to succeed in mathematics, thus giving them an opportunity to become leaders within their classrooms. Students who participated in the SMART summer program can then voluntarily attend THRIVE on Saturday’s in order to help them maintain their levels of success.
Chicot Elementary School has prepared a submission to request grant funding from the Even Start Family Literacy Program. A partnership of twelve community agencies will participate in developing the “Chicot A-Chief-ers” to promote a family-centered learning environment. The one-year award request is in the amount of $130,016. An additional $520,064 is available over a four-year period, if the funds are granted. The Board was asked to approve the submission of this application for funding. Mr. Rose made a motion to approve the submission as presented. Ms. Magness seconded the motion, and it carried unanimously.
A. Personnel Changes
Routine personnel items were printed in the agenda and were submitted for the Board’s review and approval. Ms. Magness made a motion to approve the personnel items as presented; Ms. Strickland seconded the motion, and it carried unanimously.
A. Donations of Property
The Board was asked to approve acceptance of recent donations to the District. Mr. Kurrus read the listed donations. Dr. Mitchell made a motion to accept the donations as listed; Mr. Rose seconded the motion, and it carried unanimously. Donations are listed in the following chart:
Chicot Elementary School
$1,000.00 cash to purchase adult education and parenting materials for Family Literacy Program
Dollar General Corporation
Woodruff Elementary School
$500.00 cash to be used to provide student incentives and materials for non-violence program
The final financial report for the 2001-02 school year, and the draft budget for the 2002-03 school year are still in process and were, therefore, not included for the Board’s review. The complete report will be presented at the September agenda meeting.
IX. SCHOOL SERVICES DIVISION
A. Track 1: Professional Teacher Appraisal System (PTAS)
Sadie Mitchell and Lloyd Sain presented the Professional Teacher Appraisal System document. A committee of teachers, principals, central office administrators, and representatives of the CTA, worked with a nationally recognized consultant to develop the PTAS. This evaluation process will enhance the quality of classroom instruction, provide a basis for professional development, encourage professionalism, and serve as the basis for sound employment decisions.
X. DISTRICT OPERATIONS
A. Resolution Approving the Adoption of Section 457 Employee Benefit Plans
was asked to approve a resolution authorizing the District to establish employee
benefit plans under IRS Section 457.
The plans will allow employee contributions to the plans, but will not
require District contributions to the accounts. Don Stewart was present to respond to
questions from the Board. Mr. Rose
made a motion to approve the resolution as presented;
Dr. Mitchell seconded the motion, and it carried unanimously.
B. Mann Construction / Renovation Budget
Dr. Stewart provided a summary report and proposed budget for completion of the Mann Magnet School reconstruction project. The estimated cost for the project is $11.5 million, and bidding will take place within the next few months. Actual construction is set to begin in early 2003, with completion of the project in time for the start of the 2004 school year.
Dr. Mitchell made a motion to approve the budget as presented. Ms. Strickland seconded the motion, and it carried 7-0.
XI. CLOSING REMARKS
Dr. James reported that he had visited twelve school campuses during the first week of school. He encouraged the Board members to take the time to do the same to see first-hand the many good things that are going on in our schools. He stated with certainty that we are moving in the right direction as has been shown by the improvements in benchmark examination results. In addition, he noted that we are working with the Arkansas Department of Education to ensure that we are moving forward with requirements of the No Child Left Behind initiative.
Dr. James thanked the PTAS (teacher appraisal) committee for their hard work and stated his belief that this will set the standard for the LRSD to become a model for the nation’s efforts in quality evaluation of teachers.
In closing, Dr. James reminded Board members that a joint meeting with the City of Little Rock Board would be scheduled sometime in October and that it is our turn to host the meeting. Additional information will be made available at a later time.
The Board recessed briefly and reconvened in an
executive session at
8:20 p.m. The executive session was for the purpose of conducting two employee hearings.
XII. EMPLOYEE HEARINGS
A former teacher at a high school was also the sponsor of the yearbook committee within the journalism department. The teacher requested this hearing before the Board, but did not appear at the agreed time.
Frank Martin, Executive Director of the Classroom Teachers’ Association was present, as the teacher had requested his assistance in this hearing. Mr. Martin was provided an opportunity to provide information on behalf of the teacher.
An internal audit of the records of the journalism account indicated losses and unaccounted funds from sales of yearbooks, yearbook advertising and other fundraisers. The teacher, as the sponsor, was responsible for maintaining the records. Deficits were detailed in the final auditor’s report to the principal and the assistant superintendent.
In June 2002, the superintendent recommended termination based upon the recommendation of the principal and listed five counts:
- no documentation of pre-sales for the yearbook
- no documentation of sales for prior years’ surplus of books
- no documentation to confirm other than one fundraiser, though the budget plan specified multiple fundraisers
- inconsistency in providing receipts and flaws in processing receipts
- unaccounted deficits for this and prior years in the account balance
Mr. Martin indicated that the teacher’s defense was to have been that she was not properly trained in conducting the accounting for the journalism department. However, the District’s records indicated that she had attended required inservice training.
Mr. Rose made a motion to accept the facts in the case against the teacher as submitted by the Superintendent of Schools. Ms. Strickland seconded the motion, and it carried unanimously. Mr. Rose then moved that the Superintendent’s recommendation for termination be upheld; Ms. Strickland seconded the motion, and it carried unanimously.
The second hearing was for another high school teacher. The Director of Human Resources, Beverly Williams, provided documentation and a brief review of the circumstances surrounding the recommendation to remove the teacher from the position of “lead teacher.” The teacher was not recommended for termination from his teaching contact, only from the supplemental contract and responsibilities associated with being a “lead teacher” in the science magnet component of the high school.
The high school principal responded to questions regarding the circumstances regarding her recommendation to terminate the teacher’s supplemental contract. The recommendation was based on the evaluation of the magnet school grant and requirements of that grant to have a lead teacher certified in the area of environmental sciences.
The principal explained that the teacher’s certification is in English; continuing to employ him as the lead teacher of the environmental science department could result in a loss of grant funding. His regular teaching contract would not be affected by his removal as the lead teacher.
The teacher asked the Board to consider his life experiences in the field of science and to continue to allow him to serve as the lead teacher. He stated that removing him as lead teacher would make a significant impact on his salary.
The Board deliberated briefly and returned at 10:17 p.m. Mr. Rose made a motion to find the facts presented in the Superintendent’s letter recommending termination to be true as stated. Mr. Berkley seconded the motion, and it carried 7-0.
The recommendations from the Superintendent’s letter of April 2, 2002 were stated in full:
- Your certification specialty and/or experience does not relate to the thematic area(s) of the magnet program in which you are assigned.
- Lack of experience and/or appropriate certification as lead teacher may place the (grant) funding in jeopardy.
Dr. Daugherty made a motion to uphold the superintendent’s recommendation for removal of the teacher from his supplemental contract. Ms. Strickland seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
The Board returned from executive session at 10:17 p.m. While in open session, the Board voted unanimously to uphold the Superintendent’s recommendations for termination in both of the employee hearings. The motion was made by Mr. Berkley and seconded by Ms. Strickland.
There being no further business before the Board, Dr. Daugherty moved to adjourn at 10:20 p.m. Ms. Magness seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
APPROVED: _09-26-02__ Original documents signed by:
H. Baker Kurrus, President
Tony Rose, Secretary