When asked about the conversation, Ms. Jones replied that she did speak to Mr. Caldwell. Ms. Fisher asked what did he say. Ms. Jones said, he emphasized the need to make students the top priority in any discussion regarding the 3Gs. Ms. Fisher then asked, "…did he say anything else?" Then, she pointedly asked Ms. Jones if Mr. Caldwell said that he did not want to discuss the matter with her. Ms. Jones admitted he had. Then, Ms. Fisher read excerpts from an emailed letter that had been sent to Mayor Mike Palazzolo from Mr. Caldwell.
We have received a copy of the email which is below:
It was my pleasure to meet with you this weekend. I appreciated the update about your interest, as well as, that of the City of Germantown and the GMS Board in the heritage schools. Currently our Board is in the process of receiving a report concerning the future "footprint" of SCS, preparing for our Work Session tomorrow, starting the annual Budget process, considering a new ERP system, heading to Nashville for "Day on the Hill", and presenting a CIP request to the Shelby County Commission.
I have appreciated the ongoing dialog between you, the GMS Board Chair, and the GMS Superintendent. Per a recent phone conversation I agree with you that it is important to include Commissioner Billingsley in the group that should be involved in any future discussions. Recent attempts by individual GMS Board members to push this issue with individual SCS Board members have been unhelpful and could possibly derail future progress on this issue. Obviously I cannot speak for the SCS Board or Superintendent until we go through the proper process to consider the serious and multi-faceted implications of a decision. This is too important for our communities, students, families, teachers, and school leaders to be caught in a "political" process that seems to me to be driven by the personal agendas of a few ambitious individuals.
Hopefully we can get together in a couple of months to continue the discussions. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Sincerely, Chris G. Caldwell,
Chairman Shelby County School Board
Ms. Landers responded by saying we need to trust the process and that it is up to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen to negotiate for the 3Gs because they are the funding body. She added that the Mayor needs to know that he can count on the support of the school board when discussing the future of the 3Gs. She further added that board members needed to work together to prevent misinformation and rumors from spreading. She reminded board members that there are posts on social media that are not only read by people in Germantown but also by parents of children in the 3Gs.
Mr. Manuel said that he was unaware of all this until he received the Mayor's email about an hour before the budget session. He and Ms. Fisher informed the board that Germantown will go forward with a dual strategy. Talks will continue on building a new school and acquiring the 3Gs. The City will not have to turn in its bond application until August so there is still plenty of time. It was agreed than any offer to SCS for the 3Gs would be made in writing, Ms. Fisher also warned Ms. Jones not to contact the superintendent of Shelby County Schools or any of their board members without first informing Mr. Manuel.
Among the items discussed:
- add music, art and computer teachers at Dogwood as well as a national professional development program
- extend the AP contracts at Farmington to 11 months
- add a new PE teacher at Riverdale
- increase janitorial budget
- landscaping maintenance for all school campuses
- 94 security cameras
- increase in GMSD office rent
- take over audit costs from being paid by the City of Germantown
- increase utilities budget
- add floating financial secretaries for Riverdale
- increase insurance budget due to Riverdale's expansion
- APEC services (financial systems software)
- add boosters to improve cell coverage at each school
- add new clerical position for GMSD technology department
- $200K for 1:1 program. All middle schoolers will now have iPads instead of laptops but high schoolers will have laptops, elementary schools will still get 2 new laptop carts
- new RTI coach at Riverdale
- all 6 new specialist positions
- new administrative assistant for Academics
- step increase raises and loyalty bonuses for teachers
- more SPED teachers and assistants
- new case worker at HHS
The school board members also added to the list. Among their suggestions were more parking at HHS, renovate HHS auditorium, band room, choir, STEM lab and art facilities at HHS. Also requested: optimal class sizes, foreign language in elementary schools, more school nurses, more guidance counselors, teacher retention and morale incentives, VoTech program at HHS, and more.
Each school sent in requests as well. Dogwood needs more modular classrooms, bathroom renovations, new acoustical ceiling tile for cafeteria, and renovate administrative offices. Farmington needs updated restrooms and new flooring to replace worn out carpeting.
Legislative Agenda & Other Items
"The board has the power to purchase land subject to the laws of this state, to erect buildings for public school purposes and to equip them on such terms as it deems advisable and advantageous, subject to the laws of this state, and to pay for the property out of funds appropriated or donated for the public schools.
Suzanne Jones then presented the school board's legislative agenda. She began by saying that the bills were very fluid right now as they moved in and out of committee. The board discussed the bill to abolish last year's law requiring unstructured physical activity. Mr. Manuel said that due to scheduling constraints, no high school in Tennessee is in compliance with that law. It was agreed that it was best to support the bill abolishing the physical activity requirement.
Mr. Manuel went on to discuss vouchers saying that he was philosophically opposed to them for a variety of reasons. Ms. Jones mentioned there are several voucher bills being watched including a caption bill that is supposed to field test vouchers with a 750 students cap.
On HB1251, Mr. Manuel agreed with the intent of the bill to limit testing. But, he said the was lacking in execution. Too many details did not match the realities of high school testing. The board also decided to oppose any bill allowing for the election of superintendents. A few other bills were also discussed.