September 26, 2002
The Board of Directors of the Little Rock School District held its regularly scheduled meeting at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 26, 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
Prior to calling the meeting to order, Judge Chris Piazza administered the oath of office to Board members Katherine Mitchell, Zone 1, and Larry Berkley, Zone 5, who were recently re-elected to their positions on the Board.
President Baker Kurrus called the meeting to order at 6:08 p.m. All members of the Board were present at roll call. Diane Drilling, from Hall High School, was the student ex officio representative. The teacher representative from Fulbright Elementary was not present.
II. PROCEDURAL MATTERS / WELCOMING COMMENTS
Mr. Kurrus made brief opening remarks and welcoming comments. He introduced the Dodd Elementary School choir of first and second grade students, who performed several patriotic songs and led the audience in reciting the pledge of allegiance.
By consensus, the Board reordered the agenda to take action on item IX (A), Central High School Baseball Field. Mr. Kurrus introduced Coach Johnny Johnson who briefly explained plans to build a baseball field at Central High School. He then introduced Jim Irwin and Charlie Coleman, who have worked with the Central Baseball Booster Club to raise the funds necessary to begin this project. The Coleman family contributed $120,000 and an additional $30,000 was provided by Central High School to insure this will be a top-notch baseball facility. The Board was provided with information regarding Mr. Buddy Coleman, who graduated from Little Rock High School in 1946, and they were asked to consider a proposal for naming the baseball field after Mr. Coleman.
Ms. Magness made a motion to accept the financial contribution from the Coleman family for the construction of the baseball field, and to name the field in honor of Mr. Buddy Coleman. Ms. Strickland seconded the motion, and it carried unanimously.
The Board and public were invited to attend a press conference and official ground breaking ceremony on Tuesday, October 1, at 2:00 p.m.
III. REPORTS/RECOGNITIONS/PUBLIC COMMENTS
Dr. James announced that nineteen LRSD students were named 2003 National Merit Semifinalists. Fifteen of these students attend Central High School and the other four attend Parkview Magnet School. These students and their parents will be invited to attend a reception prior to the October 24 Board meeting.
The Superintendent congratulated Susan Chapman for being selected as the winner of the 2002 Donna Reed award for administrators from the Arkansas Federation Council for Exceptional Children.
The annual Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure will be held on Saturday, October 5, this year. The District has raised $10,263.00, with 630 people signed up to participate. Twenty-five of these participants are “survivors,” who will walk in support of breast cancer research and treatment.
Dr. James announced that the LRSD was recently notified that we had received a U. S. Department of Education grant for Professional Development for Music Educators. $210,000 will be received in the first funding year, with additional funds to be received over a three-year period.
In addition, a Teaching American History Grant proposal has been approved which will provide $995,953.00 for professional development of history teachers in the LRSD. Additional information on this U. S. Department of Education grant will be provided once official notification is received.
The ex-officio student representative to the Board for September, Diane Drilling from Hall High School, was presented with a certificate of appreciation for her service to the Board. The teacher representative was not present.
B. Partners in Education – New Partnerships
Debbie Milam announced this year’s VIPS reading day on November 19, 2002. All of last year’s readers will be invited to come back, and additional volunteers will be recruited to read in elementary school classrooms.
Ms. Milam presented certificates in recognition of new business / school partnerships as noted below. Mr. Rose made a motion to accept the new partnerships, Ms. Strickland seconded the motion, and it carried unanimously.
The new partnerships were:
Carver Magnet Elementary School, represented by Principal Diane Barksdale, Teata Pace and Lakesha Moore, in partnership with the American Association of University Women, represented by Dr. Diana Glaze, Barbara Yarnell and Jackie Burnett
Dodd Elementary School, represented by Martha Lowe in partnership with Pecan Lake Resident’s Association, represented by Diane Krippendorf
Mabelvale Magnet Middle School, represented by Ann Blaylock and Judge Evans in partnership with Audubon Arkansas, represented by Mary Smith
C. Remarks from Citizens
Becky Dickson, parent of students at Hall High School addressed the Board regarding her dissatisfaction with the scheduling process and other problems at Hall High. She stated that there was a continuing problem with having a certified teacher in mathematics classes. She stated that she had previously visited with school and District level administrators, but she did not feel that enough had been done to eliminate these problems or to alleviate her concerns. Mrs. Dickson asked the Board to take action to improve the conditions at Hall High School and to ensure the school has a “leader with vision.”
A. G. Krippendorf stated that he was speaking on behalf of the faculty and parents at Dodd Elementary School, and he presented the Board with a case of bottled “Dodd Bulldog” water. He discussed concerns with the mixed first and second grade “split” class, and stated that there were too many children with learning problems for one teacher to be effective. He asked the Board to consider hiring an additional teacher for these children, so that none of them would be “left behind.”
Maryann Hansen asked the Board to review information she provided last month on the War Memorial Fitness Center. District employees could receive a discount if a significant number of employees joined.
Frank Martin discussed the reinstatement of two LRSD coaches who were reassigned to non-coaching positions following a hearing before an independent arbitrator. He said that it was important that we learn how to live with decisions that we do not like and move on.
He also announced the CTA membership’s decision to withdraw a grievance on salary issues that were related to a mathematical error from previous contract negotiations. He noted that bargaining will begin in the spring and that it is best to build bridges now in order to go into that process in a positive and forthright manner.
E. Joshua Intervenors
F. Office of Desegregation Monitoring
Melissa Gulden from the Office of Desegregation Monitoring congratulated Dr. Mitchell and Mr. Berkley on their reelection to the Board and thanked them for the service they provide to the District, the community, and the children. She also congratulated the Board, Superintendent, and District staff for the recently announced release from the Desegregation Plan. She noted that it had been a long process and that everyone had worked very hard to get to this point. Ms. Gulden then announced that she would be taking early retirement and that this was her last week at ODM.
IV. REPORTS AND COMMUNICATIONS
Dr. Mitchell thanked the voters of zone 1 for giving her the opportunity to serve again. She stated that she enjoyed working with and for the children of the LRSD, and that she enjoyed serving with her fellow Board members.
Mr. Berkley thanked his zone 5 electors for giving him the opportunity to run unopposed. He congratulated all the people in the District who have worked hard to achieve the goal of “unitary.” He made brief comments to those individuals who have expressed fear or concern about what the court ruling will mean for their children. He encouraged these citizens to address and confront the Board members individually or as a group if they have any questions or doubts. Members of the Board and District staff members will be happy to discuss their concerns to deliberately and peacefully help us deal with issues that cause their concern.
Ms. Magness congratulated Dr. Mitchell and Mr. Berkley on their reelection, and stated that she was happy that the “team” would remain intact. She congratulated Mann’s performing groups on their September 11 assembly and stated that the band, orchestra, dance groups, and EAST lab students did a wonderful job in this performance.
Ms. Magness also stated that she was very excited about the court’s ruling that confirmed for our community that we have met the standards, that we are doing a good job of educating our students, and that we will be allowed to put the major focus of our efforts on the kids. She invited those patrons in our community who are apprehensive, to come to us with their concerns.
Mr. Rose also congratulated Mr. Berkley and Dr. Mitchell on their reelections. He thanked both of them for helping him learn how to be a good Board member. Mr. Rose also stated affirmation that the Board is committed to a covenant with our community that we will do the right thing for all our students.
He reviewed issues relating to a controversy last spring with the basketball team at Central high School and the resulting decision to reassign some of the staff members involved in the situation. He stated that the actions taken at that time were made with the best interest of the children in mind. As a result of these employees’ grievance rights, an arbitrator’s ruling reversed that action.
Mr. Kurrus thanked Dr. Mitchell and Mr. Berkley for their service and he thanked Mr. Blevins for stepping up and running for the zone 1 seat on the school Board.
Mr. Kurrus then read from paragraph 10 on page 143 of Judge Wilson’s ruling in the desegregation case: “ . . . I find from the testimony of LRSD’s current administrators and Board members that the school district has, in fact, committed itself to do all that it can to improve the academic achievement of African-American students. I further find from the testimony of LRSD’s top administrators and Board members that LRSD accepts, as a matter of basic equity and fairness, the obligation to improve the academic achievement of African-American students, regardless of how long that task may take. Finally, and most importantly, I find that the LRSD can be trusted to discharge that obligation, without the need for supervision by the Court.”
Mr. Kurrus affirmed that the Board and Administrators are about trust, goodwill, and good faith. He directed the audience to the Abraham Lincoln website, and Lincoln’s second inaugural address in March 1865. He gave Dr. James a 1957-nickel and displayed a nickel that he carries as a reminder of the 1957 crisis at Central High School.
Dr. Daugherty stated that all of the students in the District have benefited from the years of the desegregation case and by all of the hard work that has gone into preparing us for achievement of unitary status. He commended Dr. Lesley for the work she has done in focusing on improving achievement of the “middle” group of students.
He noted that the community fears that we will abandon the needs of African American students without the court’s supervision. He stated the most effective way of dealing with their concerns is to put our best foot forward and continue our efforts to help all our students achieve.
Vicki Saviers, Director of the Little Rock Public Education Foundation, and Lisa Black, Director of Development, were present to provide an update on the progress of establishing the Foundation. Ms. Saviers provided a brief background and history of the concept of developing the Foundation and discussed the steps involved in bringing the concept to reality. She stated that the organization is a community-based, non-profit and is dedicated to making the LRSD the best it can be. The focus will be on improving teacher quality by providing funding for grants, innovative classroom strategy, professional development opportunities and the recruitment of excellent teachers. Mr. Berkley serves as the Board’s representative on the Foundation Board.
Dr. James thanked Ms. Saviers and Ms. Black for their high level of energy and enthusiasm. He noted that the Foundation Board members were listed in the information provided, and that we are extremely fortunate to have a Board of such high caliber working to benefit our District.
Mr. Babbs reported that the Compliance Committee was working to develop the transition plan as required by the Judges recent ruling. This process is being coordinated by our attorneys, and will be presented for the Board’s review and adoption prior to submission to the court.
In addition, Mr. Babbs provided the 10-day enrollment counts, and noted that the District’s official enrollment must be provided to the ADE by October 15.
Dr. Stewart reported that there was no significant financial news to report. The budget was filed with the State by the September 14 deadline. He briefly reviewed the effect of the recent court ruling on the funding for magnet and M-M budgets; that there should be no effort on the part of the state to reduce funding in these areas for a period of seven years. He stated there was no reason to believe that these programs won’t continue at the same funding levels.
The Board took a brief recess at 7:30 p.m. They reconvened at 7:44 p.m.
Mr. Goodman reviewed highlights from the written report provided in the Board’s agenda. He also reported that the bids for the Mann Magnet School construction project would begin with advertising in Sunday’s newspaper. The projected completion date for Mann is December of 2003. Regarding Wakefield, Mr. Goodman reported that we are still awaiting word from the insurance adjusters on the settlement of the claim before we can move ahead with clearing the property and preparing to rebuild.
Dr. Mitchell asked about the prioritizing of the construction projects and whether the campus leadership teams were kept up to date as to their school’s status. Mr. Goodman promised to provide a copy of the list that was prepared after approval of the millage / bond issue. He explained briefly the manner in which the funds were allocated to each school according to most critical need.
The Internal Auditors’ Report was printed as part of the Board’s
Mr. Becker was present, and reported on the United Way Day of Caring activities. Community groups participated in improvement on several LRSD campuses, including basketball and tennis courts improvements at Henderson Middle School and landscaping and playground construction projects at Geyer Springs Elementary School.
Ms. Neal reported that only ten sites remain to complete the installation of the telephone system. IK Electric is nearing the end of cabling projects at our campuses, and it is projected that all will be finished by the end of October. She reported that the new servers have begun to arrive and that as they are installed, we will switch over to new e-mail addresses. As soon as all of the servers are on-line, the new classroom computers - - five per classroom - - will be installed.
Minutes from the regular meeting of the Board of Directors held on August 22, and from a special meeting held on September 12, 2002 were presented for review and approval. Mr. Rose made a motion to approve the minutes as presented. Mr. Berkley seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
B. Election of Officers
Mr. Kurrus opened the floor for nominations for the office of President of the Board. Ms. Strickland nominated Judy Magness; Mr. Rose seconded the nomination. Mr. Rose then moved that the nominations cease. Mr. Berkley made a motion that Ms. Magness be elected by acclamation, Dr. Mitchell seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
Mr. Kurrus passed the gavel to Ms. Magness who opened the floor for nominations for the office of Vice President.
Dr. Mitchell nominated Tony Rose for the office of Vice President. There being no other nominations, Mr. Berkley moved that the nominations cease, and that Mr. Rose be elected Vice President by acclamation. Dr. Mitchell seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
For the office of Secretary of the Board, Ms. Strickland nominated Larry Berkley. There being no other nominations, Mr. Rose moved that the nominations cease and that Mr. Berkley be elected by acclamation. Ms. Strickland seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.
C. Reappointment of District Officials
The Board is asked annually to appoint or reappoint the persons who serve as representatives of the Board in their official capacity as employees of the LRSD. Dr. Don Stewart serves as the chief financial officer and treasurer; Mark Milhollen serves as the manager of financial services and as the ex officio financial secretary. Mr. Rose made a motion to approve these reappointments. Ms. Strickland seconded the motion, and it carried 7-0.
Dr. Lesley presented a proposal to revise the District’s overall assessment plan. Four modifications were proposed:
1. Eliminate the ALT at all grade levels;
2. Select another test for grade 2 in language arts and mathematics, to be used for gifted/talented screening and to measure student performance against the standards;
3. Administer the SAT-9 in grades 5, 7, and 10 in the spring, instead of the fall testing window previously required by the state; and
4. Reallocate the money saved by these changes to fund additional teacher training in the development, use, scoring and application of standards-aligned classroom assessments.
Dr. Lesley responded to questions from the Board and reviewed these changes as they relate to the No Child Left Behind legislation. Mr. Berkley made a motion to approve the revisions as requested by the administration. Mr. Kurrus seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
Regulations governing the District’s implementation of the testing program were modified to reflect the current tests and appropriate grade levels required to take the state-mandated Benchmark exams. Dr. Lesley reviewed the changes and responded to questions from the Board. No official action was required to modify these regulations.
Dr. Lesley reported on mandates legislated by the No Child Left Behind initiative. She noted that since we have not received test results from grades 4, 6, and 8, there is no way for us to assess our current status. The schools that will be placed on the improvement list will be identified by the results of the Benchmark exams. Although there is no way for us to know exactly where we stand, District officials are discussing preliminary choice options, supplemental services, and restructuring schools to best be able to meet the requirements of NCLB. It is known that offering “choice” is not an educationally sound way to deal with low performing schools, and that moving students in the middle of the school year will disrupt the learning process of low-performing students and impact their ability to improve.
Policy CHCA, Handbooks, Manuals and Directives, was presented for the Board’s review and first reading approval. This policy will provide guidance in the development of all publications so that they are aligned with laws, Board policy, and regulations. Mr. Berkley made a motion to approve the policy on first reading. Dr. Mitchell seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
Dr. Smith presented the 2002-03
application for special education funding through the consolidated VI-B budget
of the Arkansas Department of Education.
The total allocation reflected in the application is $3.2 million.
Mr. Kurrus made a motion to approve the application for submission to the ADE; Dr. Mitchell seconded the motion and it carried 7-0.
A grant application to the Arkansas Community Health and Education Foundation was prepared and presented by Dr. Smith. The funding, if granted, would provide $10,000 to enhance the learning environment in self-contained classrooms at 12 LRSD elementary schools, and an additional $20,000 for the purchase of software for use by all students who receive IDEA services. Dr. Mitchell moved to approve the application as submitted. Mr. Rose 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. Mr. Berkley made a motion to approve the personnel items as presented; Mr. Rose seconded the motion, and it carried unanimously.
A. Donations of Property
The Board was asked to approve acceptance of recent donations to the District. Diane Drilling, the student representative, read the listed donations. Mr. Rose made a motion to accept the donations as listed; Ms. Strickland seconded the motion, and it carried unanimously. Donations are listed in the following chart:
Dodd Elementary School
Cement, paint, brushes, rollers and cleaner / $300.00 value
Danny Alford / Home Depot
Dodd Elementary School
Bottled water / $100.00 value
Refrigerator / $150.00 value, for use in the teachers’ lounge
Sherry Polzin / Clear Mountain Water
Dodd Elementary PTA
Fair Park Elementary
$866.80 cash to be used to purchase student assignment books
Pastor Ben Jones / Woodlawn Baptist Church
Henderson Health Sciences Magnet School
Plants / valued at $100.00
McClellan Community High School
$100.00 cash to the football program
Stone Container Corporation
Romine Elementary School
$500.00 cash to be used to purchase technology equipment and computer software to support instruction
School supplies, valued at $500.00 to be distributed to students with specific needs identified by the “Success For All” Family support team
E D S Arkansas Solution Center
Little Rock School District
Gateway TB3 MT PC complete with 10 GB hard drive, read-only CD drive, network card, 56K modem, monitor and keyboard valued at $200.00
Mr. Milhollen was present, but had no additional information to present other than the routine budget reports provided in the agenda. Mr. Berkley moved to approve the reports as presented. Mr. Rose seconded the motion, and it carried unanimously.
IX. SCHOOL SERVICES DIVISION
A. Proposal for Central High School Baseball Field
A proposal for construction of a baseball field at Central High was presented and approved earlier in this agenda.
X. DISTRICT OPERATIONS
XI. CLOSING REMARKS
Dr. James congratulated Mr. Berkley and Dr. Mitchell on their reelection and expressed appreciation to all Board members for their dedicated service to the LRSD. He made brief remarks regarding the Judge’s ruling of September 13, and noted the historical significance of this event in the long-running desegregation litigation in the LRSD. This ruling has validated our hard work and commitment to bring to reality a vision of a better school community for our children. He stated his commitment to diligently working to fulfill our commitment to the compliance plan.
The Board will be asked to approve the new compliance plan at the October agenda meeting so that we can begin to move forward, put processes in place, and reassure the community that there will be no retreat from our commitments to the children in this District.
There being no further business before the Board, Mr. Berkley moved to adjourn at 9:00 p.m. Mr. Kurrus seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
APPROVED: _10-24-02 __ Original documents signed by:
Judy Magness, President
Larry Berkley, Secretary