The Board of Directors of the Little Rock School District held its regularly scheduled meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 26, 2004, in the Boardroom of the Administration Building, 810 West Markham Street, Little Rock, Arkansas. President Tony Rose presided.
Roy G. Brooks, Superintendent of Schools
Beverly Griffin, Recorder of Minutes
I. CALL TO ORDER / ROLL CALL
Mr. Rose called the meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. Six members of the Board were present at roll call; Dr. Daugherty arrived at 7:10 p.m. Ex officio representatives for the month of August were Carnelia Lacy, media specialist at Woodruff Elementary School, and Riley Duke, Central High School student.
II. PROCEDURAL MATTERS / WELCOMING COMMENTS
Mr. Rose opened the meeting by welcoming the audience and introducing Dr. Roy G. Brooks for the presentation of the Superintendent’s citations.
III. REPORTS/RECOGNITIONS/PUBLIC COMMENTS
Dr. Brooks introduced Amanda Merritt and Phil Hall from the Arkansas Department of Health, and State Senator Tracy Steele. Senator Steele presented a mock check to Superintendent Brooks in the amount of $88,361, which represents the amount granted by the Arkansas Department of Health to the LRSD Pupil Services Department for tobacco prevention and cessation programs in our schools.
John Riggs, President of the Board of Directors of the Public Education Foundation of Little Rock, presented a check in the amount of $85,192.30 which was the total amount presented to LRSD teachers in the spring of 2004. The non-profit Public Education Foundation provides these funds annually for individuals who apply for grants to improve student achievement through innovative programs or to improve teacher quality through enhanced staff development opportunities. Board members Virgil Miller and Patty Barker were present, as well as the Executive Director, Lisa Black.
The Public Education Foundation staff invited some of the recipients of these awards to provide a brief overview of their grant applications and a description of how the funds were spent.
Linda Brown, principal at Parkview Magnet High School described the All-Star Academy for incoming ninth graders. The Academy was held prior to the start of school and provided academic preparation, a clear vision of the expectations of high school, bonding time for students and teachers, and a time for staff to get to know their students outside of the regular classroom. Foundation funds were used to provide this service for the students.
Marcelline Carr, Mathematics Specialist, explained that her grant was used to fund the SMART Program for 8th & 9th grade Algebra students. The program has been held since 1999, when it started with 44 students. It has proven to be such a success, that the program has expanded over the course of 5 years. In the summer of 2004, 206 students were served. The foundation grant provided TI-84 graphing calculators for students who attend all eight days of the summer session and successfully complete the course.
Debbie Milam announced the Parent Institute Workshops to be held on Saturday, September 25, 2004. She invited Board members and the public to attend and participate. A schedule of the sessions was provided for information.
Ms. Milam presented one new partnership for the Board’s adoption:
Fair Park Elementary School, represented by Principal Sam Branch, in partnership with Second Presbyterian Church, represented by Jim Miller and Greg Adams.
Dr. Mitchell made a motion to accept the partnership, Ms. Strickland seconded the motion and it carried 6-0.
Terrance Bolden addressed the Board as an “advocate for under-served children.” He stated his belief that schools must be places of excellence and he asked for support in addressing the needs of children who attend neighborhood schools. He stressed the importance of involving school patrons and members of the community in the recommendations of the student assignment committee.
Katherine Wright-Knight congratulated the Superintendent and staff for a successful opening of school. Using the number of first week complaints from CTA members as a measure, she said that it was overall a smooth opening. She thanked the administration for the extra help for teachers at Mitchell at Badgett and Meadowcliff Elementary School where there were special challenges in getting the schools open on the first day. She thanked Dr. Brooks for attending the CTA Executive Board Meeting, and asked for continued cooperation between the union and the district.
Ms. Knight also discussed the state stipend for the National Board certification program, explaining that fifteen of the applicants will receive full funding. At least 28 teachers plan to participate in this year’s certification program, mainly due to the stipend that was included in the negotiated agreement for this school year.
IV. REPORTS AND COMMUNICATIONS
Mr. Berkley congratulated Dr. Brooks, teachers, principals, administrators and parents for contributing to a successful school opening.
Ms. Strickland reported that she had visited seven schools on opening day. She was pleased to see the excitement of the elementary students and thanked everyone who contributed to the smooth start of school.
Dr. Mitchell congratulated the School Services division for helping teachers get ready for the new school year. She expressed hope that this would be the best school year ever, and she encouraged parents to get involved by attending the Parent Institute. She reminded principals that their hard work and sacrifices were appreciated and asked them to remember that the administrative staff is available to assist them to benefit all the children in the district.
Mr. Kurrus prefaced his remarks by saying that they were his personal perspective, and not necessarily the views of the Board as a whole. He discussed the excitement of moving forward to build a school in the western part of Little Rock. He noted that it was very important to have a broad base of community support in order to attract students who are “easy to educate.” The void left in the school choices in the western part of the city has caused a drain of the resources that would be available if these students were in our district. He said he would be proposing and supporting the building of a large school in western Little Rock that would attract students who would otherwise continue to attend private or parochial schools.
Mr. Kurrus proposed reconvening the West Little Rock School committee to research a site and design educational plans to build a K – 8 model school. He noted that $11.5 million is in reserve for this purpose; possibly not the full amount that would be required for the type of school that has been proposed, but enough to begin planning the project.
Mr. Rose stated that he would endorse Mr. Kurrus’ remarks and support the proposal to build a new school in west Little Rock. He reported that he and Superintendent Brooks had met with the Mayor and City Manager and had discussed the possibility of building a city community center and public library at the site of the school.
Mr. Rose thanked Doug Eaton for the extra efforts to get Meadowcliff School open on the first day. A fire occurred in July, causing a significant amount of damage to the building. Adjustments were made in the arrangement of the building so that repairs could be made and school could be open on the first day. Mr. Rose thanked the principal, Karen Carter, and the Meadowcliff staff members who put in the extra time to get the school ready for the students. Mr. Rose noted that he had visited Meadowcliff on the first day of school, in addition to visiting Mitchell School at the Badgett site and the new Wakefield School.
Mr. Babbs reported that preliminary enrollment data indicated slight increases in enrollment at the high school and elementary levels, with slight decreases at the middle schools. Official enrollment will be reported on the 10th day of classes, and the board will receive more accurate data at that time.
In addition, Mr. Babbs reported that the Student Assignment Committee was preparing their final recommendations for the Board’s review and adoption. Members of that committee will attend the Board meeting in September to make a presentation. Mr. Babbs thanked the members of the committee for committing the time necessary to gather the data, compile the remarks and consider the input from community forums.
No report. Budget reporting was presented later in the agenda.
Mr. Eaton was present and reviewed the summary of bond and construction projects that was printed in the Board’s agenda. In addition, Mr. Eaton briefly reviewed the Mitchell and Rightsell School renovation projects. Plans to work on Rightsell have been placed on hold while work is completed on the Mitchell building. He specified that the projected scope of work at the Mitchell site was found to be more complicated than originally anticipated and will take significantly more time and money to complete. He agreed to provide additional information for the Superintendent in order to keep the board informed.
Mr. Becker was present and reviewed the brief summary report printed in the Board’s agenda. No additional information was requested.
Lucy Neal reported briefly on the installation of media retrieval systems at four schools; Wakefield, Rockefeller, Watson and Fair Park. New computer labs will be completed at Forest Park, Western Hills and Jefferson Elementary Schools, utilizing the e-rate funding received by the district.
Sadie Mitchell presented the Title IX update to the Board. The report was prepared in cooperation with Johnny Johnson, Director of Athletics. A full summary of statistics was printed in the agenda. Dr. Mitchell thanked the principals and coaches for their diligence in complying with Title IX regulations.
Minutes from the regular meeting of the Board of Directors held on July 22, and from special meetings held on June 28, and August 12, 2004 were presented for review and approval. There were no corrections noted and the minutes were approved as submitted.
A. Personnel Changes
Routine personnel changes were printed in the Board’s agenda. In addition, employees who were recommended for administrative positions were present to be introduced to the Board: Donna Duerr, assistant principal at McClellan High School; Becky Mehlburger, interim principal at Terry Elementary; Jill Brooks, assistant principal at Otter Creek; Cheryl Pride, assistant principal at Fulbright; and Sandra Register, interim assistant principal at Rockefeller.
In addition, Dr. Olivine Roberts was recommended as the Associate Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction. She could not be present for the Board meeting, but will be introduced to the Board in September. Dr. Brooks recommended the Board’s approval of all personnel items. Mr. Berkley moved approval of the personnel changes, Ms. Strickland seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
B. Back to the Classroom Program
Beverly Williams, Human Resources Director, presented a proposal for central office staff to substitute in a school one day each semester. Certified and non-certified employees will participate, and training will be provided. Board members were invited to participate, and other members of the community will be invited to volunteer.
Mr. Kurrus moved to approve the proposal for the Back to the Classroom Program. Ms. Strickland seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
A. Grant Application: Safe & Drug Free Schools and Communities
In response to a request for proposals from the Arkansas Department of Education, Jo Evelyn Elston submitted a grant application for funding the Peers Making Peace program. The application deadline was August 1, and if funded, the program will provide meaningful community service activities for students who have been suspended or expelled from school and who are assigned to the District’s alternative learning programs. The request was in the amount of $75,000, with no matching commitment required. The Board was asked to authorize the administration to maintain the grant submission. Dr. Mitchell moved to approve the request. Mr. Berkley seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
A. Donations of Property
Board was asked to approve the acceptance of recent donations to schools and
Departments within the District. The
donations are listed in the following chart.
Student ex officio, Riley Duke, read the items listed in the Board’s agenda. Dr. Mitchell made a motion to accept the
Mr. Berkley seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
Chicot Elementary School
$100 cash to defray the cost of staff celebration in honor of school making AYP for 2003-04 school year
J. A. Riggs Tractor Company
Little Rock School District
A cello, valued at approximately $500.00
W. Brent Swain
B. Annual Budget
Mr. Milhollen presented the annual district budget that will be submitted to the state prior to the September 1 deadline. He reviewed the changes in this year’s budget reporting requirements and stated that under Dr. Brooks’ leadership, more strategies had been put into place to put more money into the classrooms.
Mr. Milhollen noted that the term “clarity in reporting” had been used frequently during the development of the budget document, and will continue to be the goal for preparing financial reports and documents for the board and for public review. Mr. Milhollen thanked cabinet members, supervisors and directors, and the information services staff who all contributed to the timely completion of the budget document. A copy of the budget will be kept on file in the superintendent’s office as a reference to these minutes.
Mr. Berkley made a motion to approve the budget for submission to the state as required by Arkansas law. Dr. Daugherty seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
C. Financial Report
The monthly financial summary reports were provided to the Board as part of the printed agenda. Mr. Milhollen was present to review the reports and respond to questions. The reports were approved by consensus.
Suspension of the Rules:
Mr. Berkley made the requested motion to suspend the rules for consideration of an item not listed previously on the Board’s agenda. Dr. Daugherty seconded the motion, and it carried unanimously.
The board had adopted a resolution at the August 12 special meeting related to the annual school election. Since there were no contested races in the Little Rock School District, the decision was made to not open any polling sites and only have voting by absentee ballot or early voting at the courthouse.
The county clerk’s office and the election commission notified the District that at least one polling site had to be opened on Election Day because the issue of rededication of the mills is on the ballot. Therefore, the board was asked to rescind their previous resolution and replace it with a resolution that reflects the requirements of the county election regulations.
Ms. Strickland made a motion to rescind the previous resolution and replace it with a resolution that will open one polling site for the September 21 school election. Mr. Berkley seconded the motion, and it carried unanimously.
Suspension of the Rules:
Mr. Rose asked for a second suspension of the rules to consider an item not previously included on the Board’s agenda. Ms. Strickland made the motion to suspend the rules, Mr. Kurrus seconded the motion, and it carried unanimously.
The Board commended former interim superintendent Dr. Morris Holmes for his year of service to the LRSD. Mr. Rose thanked Dr. Holmes for his commitment to the students and the community. The Board had offered a bonus in the amount of $15,000 and plans were made to present the check and a plaque to Dr. Holmes in a public meeting. Dr. Holmes could not be present, but the Board wanted to move forward and make the presentation in his absence.
Mr. Day moved to offer a $15,000 bonus to Dr. Morris Holmes, Dr. Mitchell seconded the motion, and it carried unanimously. The check and plaque will be presented to Dr. Holmes at a time most convenient for him.
IX. CLOSING REMARKS
Dr. Brooks announced that he would invite Attorney Chris Heller to attend the September 9 agenda meeting to provide a worksession on pending legal issues.
The organizational audit team will make a presentation at the September 23 meeting.
X. EMPLOYEE HEARING
An employee requested a hearing before the Board on the matter of his termination from the District. He was recommended for termination on July 30, 2004 on charges of being under the influence of alcohol while on the job.
The employee requested an open hearing. Beverly Williams, Director of Human Resources, presented the District’s documentation and files regarding incidents that occurred on July 12. Breathalyzer tests confirmed results of .298 and .253 on the day of the incident. In addition, the employee had been driving a district vehicle and was on a school campus when he was suspected of being under the influence.
The employee was a supervisory employee in the Facilities Services Department. He was a probationary employee, and had been employed by the District for less than 60 days.
The employee appealed to the Board to allow him to return to work. He stated that he had not been drinking the day in question, but had been drinking the previous night and into the early morning hours.
The Board withdrew for deliberations at 8:25 p.m. to review the evidence presented. They returned at 8:35 p.m.
Mr. Berkley made a motion to uphold the administration’s recommendation for termination. Ms. Strickland seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
There being no further business before the Board, the meeting adjourned at 8:40 p.m.
APPROVED: _ 09-23-04 __ Originals Signed by:
Tony Rose, President
R. Micheal Daugherty, Secretary