The Board of Directors of the Little Rock School District held its regularly scheduled meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 22, 2005, in the Boardroom of the Administration Building, 810 West Markham Street, Little Rock, Arkansas. President Larry Berkley presided.
Roy G. Brooks, Superintendent of Schools
Beverly Griffin, Recorder of Minutes
I. CALL TO ORDER / ROLL CALL
Mr. Berkley called the meeting to order at 5:35 p.m. All members of the Board were present at roll call. In addition, Peggy Collins, ex officio teacher representative from Bale Elementary School was present. The student representative did not attend.
Immediately following roll call, Judge Mary McGowan administered the oath of office to Dr. Katherine Mitchell and Mr. Larry Berkley, to their newly elected three-year terms of office.
II. PROCEDURAL MATTERS / WELCOMING COMMENTS
Mr. Berkley thanked Judge McGowan and members of
the audience, then asked Dr. Brooks to proceed with the citations.
III. REPORTS/RECOGNITIONS/PUBLIC COMMENTS
Dr. Brooks announced that Mable Donaldson, the District’s Coordinator of Gifted Programs, had been elected as President of the Arkansas Association of Gifted Education Administrators. Ms. Donaldson was presented with a superintendent’s citation in recognition of this honor.
LRSD Transportation Department employees recently provided assistance to Hurricane Katrina evacuees who were transported from southern Louisiana to shelter sites in Arkansas. Certificates of appreciation were awarded to:
James Adams, Diana Allison, Miranda Austin, Purcela Barnhart, Rose Baugh, Michael Campbell, Charles Caradine, George Cobb, Dylan Dixon, Nathaniel Douglas, Katina Eugene, Tia Flanigan, Mable Futrell, Kim Green, Linda Hampton, Shadwon Hooks, Katandra Jackson, Patricia Jackson, Anthony Johnson, Carletta Johnson, Vincent Lee, Corey Lovelace, Carla Moore, Neddie Nichols, Larry Oats, Anthony Oliver, Charles Patterson, Beverly Pollard, Doug Portlock, Michael Thompson, Leasha Thompson, Kim Walker, Arlene Williams, Carolyn Williams, Johnny Williams, Deborah Wilson-Coole and Rhonda Wofford.
Dr. Brooks also provided a certificate recognizing Phillip Vano for volunteering to assist in Gulf Coast clean-up efforts. Mr. Vano took a week of vacation time to work with a group of volunteers who provided food and other services to the residents affected by the hurricane.
Downtown Rotary Club 99 was recognized for their annual service project to provide dictionaries for all third grade students in the LRSD. President French Hill and Bob Burnside were present to accept the superintendent’s citation.
Dr. Brooks introduced David Bernard; Mr. Bernard was recommended for the position of assistant principal at Southwest Middle School and that action was taken later in the agenda under Personnel Changes.
The teacher ex officio representative to the Board for the month of September, Peggy Collins, was given a certificate of appreciation for her service. The student ex officio representative did not attend the meeting.
Debbie Milam was present to introduce new school and business partnerships within the Partners in Education Program. Mr. Rose moved to accept the new partnerships; Dr. Daugherty seconded the motion and it carried unanimously. The new partnerships included:
Fulbright Elementary School, represented by Cheryl Pride and Ashley Atkins, in partnership with Coldwell Banker Advantage Realty Company, represented by Eleanor Burrus
Gibbs Magnet Elementary School, represented by Felicia Hobbs, in partnership with Twin City Bank on Broadway, represented by Trina Chandler
Otter Creek Elementary School, represented by Jill Brooks and Wanda Varady, in partnership with Edward Jones Investments of Otter Creek, represented by Kelly Ross and Michelle Lambert
Yan Wang, representing the Beijing Academy of Public Science, addressed the board regarding an education funding research project her team was conducting in the U.S. Members of the team were visiting Little Rock Schools and city government offices and were present for this board meeting.
Katherine Wright Knight congratulated Mr. Berkley and Dr. Mitchell on their reelection. She thanked Dr. Olivine Roberts for her diligence in working through issues presented to the Board a few months ago by special education teachers. She indicated that the agreements reached and the resolutions and solutions to the problems would make a positive difference for the children in our schools.
Ms. Knight also expressed appreciation to retired teacher Lou Ethel Nauden for securing grant funding for National Board Certification of district teachers.
In addition, she commented on the policy before the board for first reading on Grievances and Complaints reinforcing that the policy would not have an affect on an individual employee’s right to speak to a board member.
IV. REPORTS AND COMMUNICATIONS
Ms. Strickland thanked Mark Milhollen for completing the budget for the 2005-2006 school year and for submitting it in a timely manner.
Mr. Day and Dr. Daugherty congratulated Mr. Berkley and Dr. Mitchell on their reelections.
Mr. Rose thanked Mr. Berkley and Dr. Mitchell for their dedication to the LRSD. He noted that this is a critical time for the LRSD and that the experience of the board members would continue to work in the best interest of the children in our schools.
Mr. Kurrus reported that he had attended the dedication ceremony of Bernie Cox Field at Quigley Stadium. He expressed pride in the athletic teams at Central High School and noted that win or lose, they were always good sportsmen. He noted that school open houses had been held the previous week and he was pleased with the positive experiences at Forest Heights and Central High Schools.
Mr. Kurrus also noted his concern about the extension of a tax-free bond issue by the city of Little Rock that will benefit Acxiom Corporation. This and similar tax-free issues cost the school district millions of dollars over the course of twenty five years.
Dr. Mitchell thanked the voters for their confidence in electing her to another three-year term. She encouraged parents to become involved in the education of their children and she encouraged teachers and principals to continue to request the resources they need to meet the challenges of educating the students in their buildings.
Mr. Berkley thanked the people in his community who supported him with their votes. He expressed a desire to continue the work that the Board has started to strengthen the District and he expressed hope that they would continue to move forward to benefit all the children in our schools.
Dr. Watson was present but there was no formal report and no questions from the Board.
No report. Mr. Milhollen was present, but there were no questions or comments.
The monthly Construction Report was printed in the Board’s agenda. Mr. Goodman was present and responded to questions.
Dr. Daugherty reported that the Mitchell School committee had met to review three RFP’s that had been submitted for use of the Mitchell facility. He reported that one submitted by the city of Little Rock had been the preference of the committee and he read a letter from City Manager Bruce Moore.
Dr. Daugherty suggested that the board adopt the recommendation of the selection committee by formal vote. Ms. Strickland asked that the district conduct negotiations on the proposal prior to the board voting so that they would have the benefit of complete information before voting to approve.
The administration was charged with developing a proposal for the Board’s consideration; however, it was noted that each of the proposals should come with a complete budget proposal that would show evidence of the financial resources to support the program proposed. There was concern that the city board had not formally endorsed the proposal and had not provided a specific budget.
Mr. Day noted that if and when the Mitchell School proposal became an agenda item that he would recuse in order to prevent the appearance of conflict of interest. Dr. Daugherty stated that he would further discuss the issue at the October agenda meeting.
Mr. Becker’s monthly report was printed in the agenda.
The update was printed in the Board’s agenda.
Dr. Mitchell requested an update on the availability of textbooks and the shortages of books in some of our schools. Mr. Hattabaugh reported that he had been working with the curriculum staff to conduct an inventory and determine areas of need. He reported that $2.1 million was budgeted for textbooks for the 2005-2006 school year. Approximately $1.9 million of that had been spent and several schools books were backordered due to late orders. A written summary report was provided for the board’s review.
A. Election of Officers
Mr. Berkley asked for nominations for the office of Vice President. Ms. Strickland nominated Baker Kurrus; Dr. Daugherty nominated Katherine Mitchell. Dr. Mitchell withdrew her name and by consensus Mr. Kurrus was elected Vice President by acclamation.
For the office of Secretary, Ms. Strickland nominated Katherine Mitchell. Dr. Daugherty nominated Bryan Day. Dr. Mitchell withdrew her name and with the board’s consensus, Mr. Day was elected Secretary by acclamation.
For the office of President of the Board, Mr. Rose nominated Dr. Daugherty. Mr. Daugherty was elected by acclamation.
Minutes from the regular meeting of the Board of Directors held on August 25, and from special meetings held on August 31 and September 8, 2005, were presented for review and approval. Mr. Berkley moved to approve the minutes as presented. Mr. Rose seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
A. Special Education: Focus Group Recommendations
A committee of special education teachers and administrators met to develop a report of recommendations for the board’s consideration and approval. The full report was printed as part of the Board’s agenda. Dr. Olivine Roberts briefly reviewed the recommendations at the September agenda meeting and introduced members of the committee. Mr. Berkley thanked Dr. Roberts and made a motion to accept the report. Mr. Kurrus seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
A. Cloverdale Elementary School – Reassignment Plan
After a careful review of the current student enrollment at Cloverdale Elementary at the Badgett School site, it was determined that to continue to operate this low-enrollment school was a drain on district resources.
The administration’s recommendation included placing kindergarten and first grade students at Watson Elementary School; second and third grade students at Mabelvale Elementary; and fourth and fifth grade students at other schools with available seats in southwest Little Rock.
Reassignment of staff members will be coordinated through the Human Resources Department, and David Hartz indicated that all members of the staff would have a position. Mr. Day expressed concern regarding the future of the district and asked for careful consideration and analysis of growth in the city, both in areas of increasing population and in those parts of the city that are experiencing a decline. Other board members agreed and asked that the administration look at long-term planning, taking the city’s infrastructure issues into consideration when making recommendations for school buildings. In addition, district administrators will work with city planners when discussing school construction and other school facilities projects.
Ms. Strickland made a motion to approve the administration’s recommendation to transfer the Cloverdale @ Badgett students to other schools in the southwestern part of the city. Mr. Berkley seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
A. Policy GBK: Staff Concerns / Complaints / Grievances
At the Board’s request, policy GBK was presented for first reading of revisions intended to enhance the line authority processes for working through employee concerns, complaints and grievances.
Mr. Rose assured the audience that the policy was not an attempt to inhibit community members or employees from speaking to board members but instead was an effort to ensure that the proper and appropriate channels were followed when an employee had a problem or grievance. The revisions are to be considered reinforcement of the newly reorganized district which places more authority with the principals of local schools and a more clearly defined process for resolution of problems and concerns.
Mr. Berkley moved to approve policy GBK on first reading. Ms. Strickland seconded the motion and it carried 7-0.
B. Personnel Changes
Routine personnel items were printed in the Board’s agenda. Mr. Berkley moved to approve the personnel actions as presented. Ms. Strickland seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
A. Rightsell Elementary School
The Board was provided with a full report of recommendations supporting the closure of Rightsell Elementary School. To undertake the proposed renovations and repairs required to bring the school up to current standards would be a financial drain on the district’s resources. To become more fiscally efficient, the administration recommended reassigning the students living in the current Rightsell attendance zone to Washington Elementary and other elementary schools in the central Little Rock area at the conclusion of the 2005-06 school year.
Ms. Strickland made a motion to approve the administration’s recommendation and Mr. Berkley seconded the motion.
Dr. Mitchell spoke in opposition to the motion reminding the board that the millage election provided funds for the renovation and restoration of Rightsell Elementary School. She continued by stating that Rightsell students were achieving at high levels and that the enrollment was nearing 300 students prior to the decision to reassign the students for the current school year.
Mr. Kurrus spoke in favor of the motion, stating that the district would be insolvent if not for taking a stand and making some very difficult decisions to close schools. Mr. Rose agreed with Mr. Kurrus and noted that it wasn’t an easy decision, but that it was necessary to fulfill our obligations to the community to make decisions in the best interest of all the students in the city. Mr. Berkley noted that the district had an obligation to make decisions based on sound business reasoning and fiscally sound recommendations.
After a lengthy discussion and a roll call vote, the motion carried 4-3 with Mr. Berkley, Mr. Kurrus, Mr. Rose and Ms. Strickland supporting the recommendation and Dr. Mitchell, Dr. Daugherty and Mr. Day voting “no.”
B. Land-use Agreement Between the LRSD and LR Boys & Girls Club
A proposal was developed between the LRSD and the Little Rock Boys & Girls Club to share a parking lot between Woodruff Elementary School and the Lamar Porter Baseball field. This agreement was presented for the Board’s review and approval and included a commitment to cost-share development of the property and a pro-rated plan to share maintenance and upkeep for a twenty-five year period. Mr. Day moved to approve the proposal as submitted; Mr. Kurrus seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
C. Donations of Property
The 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. The teacher ex officio read the items listed in the Board’s agenda. Mr. Berkley made a motion to accept the donated items, Ms. Strickland seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
Central High School
$100.00 cash to purchase tee-shirts
$300.00 cash to the cheerleading squad
Jahn M. Oraha
Gregg Heming / The Peabody Little Rock
$125.00 to purchase school uniforms
$1,000.00 to purchase playground enhancements
UALR Children’s International
Goods and services in the amount of $27,075 over time; $5,668 allocated for the 2005-06 school year
Johnson Controls / Performance Contract with the LRSD funded through QZAB bonds
Mann Magnet School
$300.00 cash contribution to the school
Stephanie F. Gardner
Pulaski Heights Elementary
$500.00 cash to purchase school supplies for needy families
Wrought iron fence, valued at $21,000.00 surrounding the playground
Hillcrest Residents Association in honor of retiring board member, Robin Borne
Pulaski Heights PTA
Western Hills Elementary
Student violin valued at $200.00
LRSD Adult Education Center
$750.00 literacy grant to purchase textbooks and materials
Renita Thompson, Wal-Mart Store #126
D. Financial Report
The board took a brief recess and returned at 7:45 p.m. to conduct a student appeal hearing. Dr. Mitchell did not return.
X. STUDENT HEARING
A student was suspended long-term from Hall High School for fighting. The facts substantiated the severity of the incident, noting that approximately fifteen students participated in the fight which began when this student threw the first punch. The student admitted his role in the incident.
The administration recommended assignment to the district’s Alternative Learning Center on Apperson. His parents appealed that assignment and requested return to a regular school. It was their contention that the student was defending himself and that the fight was a carryover from a long-standing rivalry between two groups of students.
Principal John Bacon and Assistant Principal Katrina Jones were present at the hearing, as well as the hearing officer William Broadnax.
After a brief recess for deliberation, the Board returned and Mr. Rose made a motion to accept the administration’s recommendation for assignment to the ALC for a full semester. The student would be allowed to return to regular school after that time contingent upon his behavior, citizenship, grades and attendance. Ms. Strickland seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
XI. CLOSING REMARKS
No additional information was reported.
There being no further business before the Board, the meeting adjourned at 8:17 p.m. on a motion by Dr. Daugherty, seconded by Mr. Kurrus.
APPROVED: 10-27-05 Originals Signed by:
R. Micheal Daugherty, President
Bryan Day, Secretary