Chairman Lisa Parker added two items the agenda, 11.a. - Capital Projects Priorities and 11.b. - Sale of Storage Trailer at Houston High School. The amended agenda was approved. The original agenda may be found here.:
Superintendent Manuel commended the district for its exemplary achievement among all districts in the State of Tennessee. Two schools were identified as Reward Schools - Dogwood Elementary and Farmington Elementary. Additionally, Houston High School students taking the ACT achieved the highest average score in the State - 24.1 (compared to the state average of 19.8). He also noted HHS Honors Academy graduates scored an average of 33.
The Germantown Education Foundation was the recipient of donations totally $50K from the Germantown Charity Horse Show. Per the donor, these funds are to be earmarked to enhance the fine arts in GMSD schools. GEF Board Member, Kent Brown, was recognized in the audience.
Radonna Garnett of the American Heart Association recognized Dogwood Elementary for having raised $27,550 in the 2014-15 school year during the Jumprope For the Heart campaign.
Mr. Manuel recognized district staff members, Kim Welch and Mona Kenley for their outstanding work on behalf of the district.
Mr. Manuel introduced Kevin Jones as the district’s newly hired Chief Financial Officer.
Board business moved on to the approval of the minutes from the July 27 and August 19 board meetings. It was noted by board member Ken Hoover that the July 27 minutes were missing the motion and board action regarding Miscellaneous Budget Amendment 9. It was agreed to table approval of this meeting’s minutes until September 23. The August 19 minutes were approved with the addition of one clause.
Tennessee Legislature Update
Board member Natalie Williams reported the district hosted Representative Mark White on August 5. He is advocating for GMSD regarding the Special Ed Voucher. Senator Brian Kelsey will be touring the district on September 2. Williams stated the district was going to ask Sen. Kelsey to help write new legislation to allow the district to opt out of state nutrition standards. Mr. Manuel explained that while the BoE has voted to waive federal funds and opt out of the federal nutrition standards, that the district still had to adhere to state guidelines. They hope to address this with the new legislation.
Ms. Williams further reported there will be a legislative workshop held on October 16. She also stated the [curriculum] standards review committee was in full swing. She noted she had recently spoken with David Pickler who sits on the committee and said she was encouraged by the quality of the committee members. The timeline for standards review is the committee will wrap up its meetings in the fall and make a presentation to the Tennessee Department of Education in early February.
Mr. Manuel opened saying that school had started and the district had recently completed its End of Year report to the state.
Preliminary discussions have been held at Houston High, Houston Middle and Farmington Elementary regarding RTI and plans for benchmarking students using the new Amplify software. Dogwood Elementary and Riverdale will be in discussions soon.
The 1:1 Pilot has begun with 90 students at HHS and approximately 300 total students at Riverdale and Houston Middle receiving laptop computers.
Mr. Manuel offered kudos to the district’s recent Public Relations hire, Kate Crowder. Ms. Crowder has already submitted and had published five stories in the Commercial Appeal and Germantown News.
A Community Conversations event was held recently at the Pickering Center to discuss career and job placement for special needs students and community members. The conversation was very successful and participants included parents, business leaders, City officials and school board members.
Two citizens spoke to the board, Mr. Gary Lindquester (HHS Band Booster representative) and Mr. Jim Smith (HHS Band Director). The Houston Band is requesting a matching donation of approximately $50K to assist with the purchase of new band uniforms. The existing uniforms are over 10 years old, with the typical lifespan of uniforms being 7-8 years. The band makes this request based on the precedent of SCS previously providing matching funds for such purchases.
Second Reading - various Student Policies (see agenda for links)
There was very little discussion.
Approval of Grant of Tenure
The board was provided with list of teachers being recommended for tenure based on meeting certain criteria - 1) must have received a rating of 4 or 5 over the past two consecutive years, 2) must have been teaching for no less than 45 months. Board member Mark Dely read all the names aloud, and the approval was granted unanimously by the board.
Ms. Parker read off the proposed timeline for the Riverdale expansion project, the proposed Houston High school gymnasium and the proposed new southside elementary school. Mr. Dely asked if there were costs yet for these projects. Mr. Manual stated they had met with “experts,” teachers and Riverdale administration and now estimate the price to expand Riverdale to be $10MM, not including FF&E (furniture, fixtures and equipment) or additional costs needed for site development.
Mr. Hoover stated he attended the FAC (Financial Advisory Commission) meeting when Mr. Manuel presented the needs for the district. Mr. Hoover was contacted by the FAC alderman liaison who requested a five year plan for capital projects. Hoover then went on to inquire if the board will be asked to vote on these plans.
There was a great deal of discussion revolving around the process by which the GMSD board would receive detailed cost information and ultimately approve projects. Josh Cathey stated at one point that Fleming Architects would be meeting with district staff and will also attend the board’s next scheduled work session. Again, Mr. Hoover asked when the board would vote and what would they vote on. Ms. Parker stated they were mostly asking [the City for funds] for the Riverdale expansion and then the HHS gym, but that the gym project looked less and less likely.
At this point Ms. Parker asked the board if they were ready to vote on the $12MM project for Riverdale. Mr. Dely suggested the board wait until the next work session to discuss costs and then vote at the next business meeting.
Mr. Manuel expressed some concerns about waiting due to the timeline that Ms. Parker had laid out at the beginning of discussion. He agreed that the Riverdale expansion was a priority, and he felt that it was even more important than replacing the roof at Dogwood and the chiller/boiler at Riverdale. He recommended moving forward with the “brick and mortar” building over fixing the “brick and mortar problems we have.”
Based on the schedule for upcoming meetings (work session on 9/9 and business meeting on 9/23), Mr. Dely suggested that would still work with the timeline. He wants to give all constituents a chance to comment. Mr. Hoover asked that the board and superintendent also discuss the gap between the initial $7MM projection for the Riverdale expansion and the now projected $12MM cost. Mr. Dely then requested that Mr. Cathey provide the board with a full report on these projects at the work session.
The Houston band has a storage trailer they would like to sell at auction as part of the fundraising efforts for new uniforms. It was found that the GMSD actually holds the title to the trailer so the board was asked to allow the band to sell the trailer and place the proceeds into the HHS band account held by the school. Approval was granted.