July 25, 2002
The Board of Directors of the Little Rock School District held its regularly scheduled meeting at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 25, 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 6:04 p.m. Five members of the Board were present at roll call; Mr. Berkley and Dr. Mitchell were absent. Kathy Lineberger, teacher at Forest Park Elementary School, and Queria McDonald, student at Central High School, served as ex-officio representatives to the Board for the month of July.
II. PROCEDURAL MATTERS / WELCOMING COMMENTS
Mr. Kurrus made brief opening remarks and welcoming comments.
III. REPORTS/RECOGNITIONS/PUBLIC COMMENTS
Ex officio representatives to the Board for the month of July were presented with certificates of appreciation for their service; Kathy Lineberger, teacher at Forest Park Elementary, and Queria McDonald, student at Central High School.
B. Remarks from Citizens
Ms. Kelley was present, but did not make remarks or comments.
D. Joshua Intervenors
IV. REPORTS AND COMMUNICATIONS
Mr. Rose discussed the past three days of hearings in Judge Wilson’s court relating to the District’s efforts to attain unitary status. He stated that it was tragic that there were students in our District who felt that they were being discriminated against, and that he is saddened that they perceived that they had not been treated fairly.
Ms. Strickland agreed with Mr. Rose’s comments, and stated that she was happy that this week’s hearings were completed. She thanked the attorneys who participated in presenting our case, and employees who helped to prepare for the hearings. She expressed hope that we will continue to improve and that we will provide the very best education possible for all the kids in our District.
Dr. Daugherty echoed Mr. Rose’s comments and said that he finds it sad that we found out in the court setting that these children were not happy with their educational experience. He stated that Board members and District employees work very hard to make sure that we do the right thing for all of the children and their parents.
Mr. Kurrus also discussed the week’s court hearings and stated that he was saddened that racism and discrimination were brought up with every question. He noted that although the students who testified complained of mistreatment, it was evident that they received a good education because they had been accepted to good colleges, i.e., Amherst and Spellman.
The student representative, Queria McDonald, briefly spoke regarding the court hearings. She had attended the court hearing the day after the students testified they were mistreated in the LRSD. She stated her disappointment in the Democrat-Gazette for not reporting that twenty-two students attended the court hearing in support of the education they are receiving in the LRSD and at Central High School, in particular.
Ms. Magness commented that she felt that we had received a very fair hearing. She noted that some teachers were disappointed that they were singled out in court and information was provided that was not correct or justified. She noted that the young man from J. A. Fair had received $52,000 in scholarships and that his teachers at Fair had helped him to qualify for these scholarships. She stated that when you view “the big picture” we are doing a good job to provide an excellent education for all the students.
Mr. Babbs told the Board that he was also happy to have the court hearings behind us. He noted that final legal filings were due to the court by August 19, and that the judge had indicated he planned to make a final decision by mid-November. In the meantime, he reported business-as-usual in the student registration process and getting a new school year underway. Staff development sessions will begin next week with pre-registration for students on August 5th and 6th.
Dr. Stewart provided a brief combined budget update and financial report. He stated that financial services staff was continuing to work to complete the year-end reports and was working on the draft budget document for the 2002-03 school year. He projected its’ completion in time for the Board to review it at the September Board meeting.
Ms. Magness made a motion to approve the financial reports as presented. Mr. Rose seconded the motion, and it carried 5-0.
Mr. Goodman reported on the construction projects that are underway at this time and a written report was provided as part of the agenda. Several schools are in the midst of major renovations and some projects won’t be complete when school starts, but the buildings will be ready for students on the opening day. Mr. Goodman referred questions on specific school projects to Mr. Eaton, who reported that some school sites do look in disarray, but that staff will be working up until the very last day to get the buildings ready. They will work on Saturday and Sunday, if necessary, to put the finishing touches on for a safe school opening. He noted that each project has a manager who coordinates with the building principal and that the principals know what to expect as far as progress on the completion of on-going repairs and improvements.
Mr. Eaton was asked about the construction project at Mann Magnet Middle School and the perception that there is a delay. He reported that the planning and design specifics were approximately 50% complete and that actual work is scheduled to begin in September or October. The projected completion date is December 2003.
The Internal Auditors’ Report was printed as part of the Board’s
Mr. Becker was present, but provided no additional information.
Ms. Neal briefly discussed the recent problems with e-mail and telephone systems. Some of these problems were attributed to the switchover to the State of Arkansas network, and from server problems at the schools that impact the main server in Information Services. Staff is working to resolve these issues as they are reported. It was also noted that a new e-mail system would begin to be phased in during September.
It was noted that some of the technology projects had been delayed slightly because of other construction in the schools, but that it was hoped all phone and technology systems would be back on schedule and working by the first day of school.
The Board recessed briefly and returned at 7:01 p.m.
Minutes from the regular meeting of the Board of Directors held on June 25, 2002 and from special meetings held on June 13 and July 3, 2002 were presented for review and approval. Mr. Rose made a motion to approve the minutes as presented. Ms. Magness seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
Dr. Lesley presented a revision to the regulations for implementation of Board policy ID, School Schedules. The additional regulations will more clearly define the requirements and make it easier for staff, students, and parents to understand the course scheduling issues. No formal Board action was required for implementation.
Dr. Lesley presented a proposal to purchase a license for use of “Responding to Reading Through Writing.” Annie Ross, a teacher at Jefferson Elementary School, developed these instructional materials as a tool to prepare her fourth grade students for the Literacy Benchmark exams. Under the terms of Act 1599 of the State of Arkansas, the LRSD Board must approve a resolution in support of this purchase before we can seek the approval of the State Board of Education. The funds for purchasing the license agreement and for other costs incurred in use of the materials will be covered by the elementary level literacy budget for 2002-03. Ms. Magness moved to approve the resolution as presented. Ms. Strickland seconded the motion and it carried 5-0.
Mr. Fletcher presented a proposal for a grant application to the U. S. Department of Education for the Professional Development for Music Educators Program. Working with Dr. Lesley and Linda Austin, the proposal would provide funding to implement professional development programs designed to enhance and expand standards-based music education programs.
The three-year request is in the amount of $1.2 million, and would partner the LRSD with the UALR Department of music, the American Orff-Schulwerk Association, and Music Workshops, Ltd. Ms. Magness made the motion to approve the submission of the grant application, Mr. Rose seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
A. Personnel Changes
Routine personnel items were provided for the Board’s review and approval. In addition, the Board was asked to consider a suspension of the rules to approve the hiring of Kimmie Cleveland as the head football coach at J. A. Fair High School.
Mr. Rose made a motion to suspend the rules for consideration of this additional personnel item. Ms. Magness seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
Ms. Magness then moved approval of all personnel changes presented. Ms. Strickland seconded the motion and it carried 5-0.
A. Donations of Property
The Board was asked to approve acceptance of recent donations to the District. Ms. Strickland read the listed donations and 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
$1,000.0 cash for literacy materials
Forest Heights Middle School
Educational materials valued at $3,192.80
Little Rock School District
Lexmark Winwriter 150C color Inkjet Printer, valued at $25.00
B. Financial Report
Financial reports were reviewed and approved earlier in this meeting.
IX. SCHOOL SERVICES DIVISION
A. Report: SREB Leadership Initiative
Dr. James presented a review of the SREB Leadership Initiative pilot project, which will partner the LRSD with the SREB for a three-year school improvement and high school reform initiative. Initially, all five LRSD high schools and Henderson and Mabelvale Middle schools will participate. It was noted that SREB would underwrite the entire cost of the training for these three-years. Dr. James reported that the SREB has had a history of success with high school reform efforts in urban areas and this project will impact our efforts to close the achievement gap and improve the success of minority students.
Although this item was included on the Board’s report agenda, the Board initiated a motion to approve the LRSD’s participation. There was no formal motion to suspend the rules. Ms. Strickland moved to approve the LRSD’s partnership with the SREB. Mr. Rose seconded the motion and it carried 5-0.
X. DISTRICT OPERATIONS
No items for report or action.
XI. CLOSING REMARKS
Dr. James read a letter he had received from sixth grade teacher, Virginia Booth. This letter commended the staff development and curriculum staff for their efforts to provide quality pre-school inservice sessions.
In addition, he noted that progress was being made to get the Badgett building ready for Wakefield students on the first day of school. The school will be known as Wakefield-East until they are able to move back into the new building at the southwest Little Rock location.
There being no further business before the Board, Mr. Rose moved to adjourn at 7:40 p.m. Ms. Strickland seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
APPROVED: _08-22-02__ Original documents signed by:
H. Baker Kurrus, President
Tony Rose, Secretary