New Policies Discussed
The second is a revision to the grading policy. The current policy sets the minimum and maximum number of assessments each teacher can use to determine a student’s grade for each nine week period (currently 9 min and 20 max. for lower grades, and 10 min. and 20 max. for upper grades). Superintendent Manuel explained that many teachers have complained about having the maximum allowed set at 20. In particular, he has received feedback from foreign language teachers who give many quizzes per week in order to track mastery. The updated policy will no longer set a maximum number of grades.
Chief of Operations, Josh Cathey gave an update on the capital projects currently in progress.
Dogwood has received a new roof, new air conditioning units, and portables. The work is almost compete.
GMSD has completed its part of the paving at HHS. The city is responsible for additional paving which is in progress. Floor waxing at Farmington, HMS, and HHS is almost complete. As those crews finish, they will be dispatched to Dogwood and Riverdale to supplement crews at those schools.
Down to Business
The discussion of the superintendent’s new contract was discussed at the end of the work session. The superintendent expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to lead a new district. He reminded the board that he was offered a 3-1/2 year contract when he was inexperienced and untested. He then read off a long list of the district’s accomplishments and highlighted a clause in the new four year contract that would make him liable for a $15,000 penalty if he were to terminate the contract before its end date. He indicated that Germantown is his home and that he did not wish to entertain offers from other districts.
Mark Dely was the first to say that he couldn’t imagine a better person for the job and was very much in favor of authorizing the contract. His one concern was the length of term. He proposed that it should be 3 years instead of 4. He felt this would then set a cycle of renegotiating the terms every two years.
Natalie Williams spoke up and stated that she wanted to approve the contract exactly as it was written.
Ken Hoover stated he was also in favor of the contract, but wondered if the severance clause should be adjusted to reduce liability to the district. The contract currently states that if the board decides to part ways with the superintendent, they must continue to pay his salary until it expires on June 30, 2020. Hoover suggested that the severance should be no more than 12 months of salary.
Manuel expressed dissatisfaction with reducing either the term or the severance, pointing out that both scenarios present a contract that is less than the 3-1/2 years he was offered when he was untested. He did not feel he should be offered a lesser contract now that he has proven his worth to the district.
Both Lisa Parker and Linda Fisher agreed that the contract should be approved with no changes.
If you would like to read the contract, you can find it here.
Chairwoman Fisher announced the retirement of Dogwood principal Susan Pittman and the hire of Teresa Price as her replacement. She expressed her excitement about the two “classroom crashes” taking place, one at Farmington and one at HHS. These are classroom makeovers that were awarded to two teachers. She praised HHS for achieving the “Best of the Preps” title for the 18th year, for winning nine theater awards, and for having one of the top choirs in the country.
Superintendent Manuel reported that the administration has been working hard to recruit employees. There are still 16-1/2 positions left to fill, but only three of those are teaching positions.
Citizens to be Heard
Audrey Grossman spoke in support of the superintendent’s contract and thanked the board members for approving it.
There was a student discipline appeal before the board. From the discussion it appeared that the student’s suspension had been reduced from 180 days to 54 days. Lisa Parker made a motion to reduce the suspension to 10 days, but also require three counselling sessions. She did not receive a second on her motion. Mr. Hoover moved that the Superintendent’s recommended 54 day suspension stand. He said he did not feel the board should involve itself in discipline issues unless it appears that the punishment is not in adherence with policy. The motion carried.
Moving on, Mr. Hoover offered to draft a resolution to begin lobbying the Tennessee legislature concerning BEP funding.
And finally, Chairwoman Fisher announced that there will be a special called meeting on July 25th at 6:00 at the GMSD offices to approve a list of district and extracurricular fees. And with that, the meeting was adjourned.