Two Meetings in One
First, a $115,000 stop-loss insurance policy from American Fidelity was approved, then the board moved on to the Cafeteria RFP. The board voted to select Aramark (the only bidder) as the provider for cafeteria services. The contract guarantees that the district will lose no more than $67,000 in the first year, which is considerably less than the projected losses if keeping the service in-house. Lisa Parker commented that the food would “look better, taste better, and be better.” Once signed, the contract will have to be approved by the state, but it is expected that Aramark will take over immediately following Fall Break.
The Cafeteria Budget Amendment prompted some discussion. It essentially restores the previous budget for nutrition services for the entire year. Ken Hoover questioned why the district was budgeting for a full year of cafeteria expenses when the board had just voted to outsource. He said he would rather see real figures that represent what the district will have to pay until October. Supt. Manuel said the district staff could do that, but it would take time. The current cafeteria payroll cannot be processed until they allocate money in the budget, and this is the quickest and easiest way. It passed with Hoover being the lone “no” vote.
The final item was for the approval for the MOU with Collierville for the Alternative School arrangement. Dely voted to approve the MOU but suggested that such things be presented to the board prior to the start of the school year. Mr. Manuel said the hold up was Collierville. Lisa Parker agreed saying that Collierville took a while to make up their mind.
The tenure law has changed in Tennessee, and Mr. Haddow discussed some of the details on how test scores and 1 to 5 ratings now help determine who is eligible for tenure. And then the discussion turned to adding a counseling position to assist with increasing student loads at Farmington and Dogwood. Mr. Haddow stated that he reached out but had not heard back from administration at the schools. As was discussed in the last meeting, Mark Dely again recommended that the board ask the schools what they need instead of asking “would you like another counselor?” Hoover said he was uncomfortable with the discussion, stating that requests should come from the school to the board. He felt it was overstepping the board’s authority to create a school-level position on its own. Lisa Parker then added that our schools are not used to asking for anything. She suggested that the board open a dialogue with the administrators, ask them what they want, and go from there. Everyone agreed.
Good Data for the District
Our new math textbooks are MIA. They are lost in the distributor’s warehouse, but should arrive and be distributed soon. In the meantime, teachers are downloading materials from the electronic copy. The district will be reimbursed for all of the printing and copying costs related to this snafu.
Last year’s financial books have been closed out, and board members should receive a year-end fiscal report to review before the next meeting.
Manuel suggested that a new gym at HHS would cost up to $2M and would enable the school to host tournaments. Hoover questioned the need for a new gym and wondered how it would fit into the goal of building a new K-8 or K-5 school in the near future. He stated that he was uncomfortable committing the current and many successive boards to the obligation of paying $300K per year. He felt that the capital improvement money should come from the city with no obligations attached and that it would set a bad precedent. Both Lisa Parker and Supt. Manuel countered that GMSD is the only school system that is not paying SCS under an agreement for the school buildings. Instead, the city of Germantown has been paying SCS for the yearly obligation under an agreement that allowed the transfer of the school buildings from SCS to GMSD.
Dely commented that a new gym would be “great to have” but is not prudent at this time. The yearly $300K obligation would come out of operating funds, directly out of monies that could be used in the schools. He suggested that perhaps this is a project that could be completed through a public/private partnership, like the new football turf at HHS. Both Hoover and Dely seemed to be in agreement that borrowing the full $12M may not be necessary and that the board shouldn’t look for ways to spend it just because it is available.
Manuel said that he would present the districts needs at the meeting tonight and let the FAC decide how much they would be willing to fund. The agenda for tonight’s FAC meeting can be found here.
Superintendent Manuel faced some hard questions by the committee members about the need for elementary classrooms instead of a gym at Houston High School. He responded that GMSD is currently scouting for land and expects to request $18M from the City in fiscal year 2018 for a new elementary school which would open by 2020. Manuel said the school system needed a couple of years to make plans and study growth before requesting money for the new school. He said that the new multi-purpose gym at the high school would be used by Germantown Parks and Recreation as well as the high school. Currently, students are practicing off campus and late at night.