Another Two-fer Night
You can watch the video below:
After discussing a few policies that were to be placed on the Consent Agenda, Superintendent Manuel told the board that the lease for the district office space was ending on 12/31/15. He informed the board that he has made arrangements to extend the lease on a month-to-month basis until the end of the fiscal year (June 30).
The landlord informed him of an expected rate increase with the new lease. Mr. Hoover wondered why the rates would go up when there is still a significant amount of empty space in the building. Mr. Dely urged Supt Manuel to use the long lead time to begin negotiating the new lease terms now. Dely and Hoover both requested that the district not be put in a position where it is too late to look at other options. Ideally, they want any new lease payments to be determined before the budget approval process begins in February.
Differentiated Pay for School Staff
Mr. Haddow is also working on details for the second part of the plan. Currently, 4 or 5 teachers at each school receive bonus money for mentoring other teachers. Mr. Haddow would like to change to a more performance based plan for differentiated pay on a continuing basis. The new plan could limit the number of teacher absences required to qualify for the additional pay. The rationale is that saving money on substitutes would help pay for the bonuses. He also suggested that these bonuses should be available only to school personnel, and not to district office staff. While nothing has been decided yet, Mr. Haddow would like to focus the pay incentives to reward career longevity. He is most concerned about teachers with 18+ years of service, who have not received any pay raises in a while but continue to have health insurance rate increases each year. Look for the new differentiated pay plan to be discussed during upcoming budget planning and possibly be included in the district's strategic plan.
Gotta a Minute?
As the work session was coming to a close, Natalie Williams began discussing a recent TSBA conference where she learned about school board minutes. And apparently, GMSD is not doing it right. After perusing websites for school boards throughout Tennessee, she wants to see a more streamlined version of minutes that would limit what is posted publicly. She stated that the minutes should only reflect the actions of the board as a whole. Minutes should only state what the board did – not what the board members said. Her rationale was that she did not want anything in the minutes that could be perceived as an individual’s personal belief statement. She also suggested that the minutes should not reflect the individual votes cast by board members. But said she was fine with that if it was the will of the board.
The new parliamentarian, Betsy Landers, who was sitting in the audience, then handed Chair Lisa Parker a book that appeared to be a version of Robert's Rules of Order for parliamentary procedure. Ms. Parker began reading sections of the book to the board. At one point, she said that Minutes are minutes, and not hours. But her recitation of the book did not cite any specific rule or law about how minutes should be written. At this point, several families began entering the room for the Business Meeting where their children were being recognized for winning their school spelling bee. The Work Session then abruptly ended and the board took a break before reconvening for the Business Meeting.
The room was packed with children. Several families were there to recognize the spelling bee winners. During the Moment of Silence section of the agenda, Chair Lisa Parker added a "thought for the day" where she read a poem about Santa Claus. We didn't catch the name of the poem. But it wasn't "Twas the Night Before Christmas" or "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus." Instead, it was a poem about believing in Santa as an adult. Let's just say that we hope those parents didn't have to answer some awkward questions on the way home.
The following students were recognized for winning their school spelling bee:
Dogwood Elementary School: Frederick Huang
Farmington Elementary School: Hudson Myatt
Riverdale Elementary School: Sophia Overstreet
Houston Middle School: Colin Cantwell
Mr. Haddow then showed the board a slide presentation recognizing all of the babies born to GMSD employees this year. There were a LOT of babies! Birth announcements are below:
Mary Margaret “Margot” Thomas born June 2 to Haley and James Thomas, BOTH classroom teachers at Houston High School
Lucy Heberling born July 31 to Rachel Heberling, classroom teacher at Riverdale Elementary School
Liddon Rose Hora born on August 5 to Andrea Hora a Physical Therapist’s Assistant for GMSD.
Robert Edward Lofton born August 14th to Robert Lofton, classroom teacher at Houston High School.
Anderson Baker Denton born August 19th to Emily Denton, classroom teacher at Dogwood Elementary School.
Rex Drury Styer born November 10th to Marci Styer, art teacher at both Farmington and Dogwood Elementary Schools
Elise Borgman born November 10th to Rebecca Borgman, occupational therapist at Dogwood Elementary School
Asen James Fitchpatric born November 11th to Brandi Fitchpatric, guidance counselor at Dogwood Elementary School
Eleanor Broccato born November 12th to Rachel Broccato, classroom teacher at Dogwood Elementary School
The board then recognized Kate Crowder for organizing a very successful Senior Citizen tour of GMSD schools and for her work on the GMSD float in the Germantown Christmas parade. Her husband saved the day by securing pieces of the float from flying off and thanks was given to Natalie Williams for allowing its construction to take place in her driveway.
We Need a Mintute to Scratch Our Heads
JAM readers may remember the meeting last month where Hoover wanted to go on record that GMSD’s grant to Houston High Arts & Athletic Foundation should be a matching grant like the one from the city of Germantown. Now, Natalie Williams wants Hoover's statement struck from the minutes. Mark Dely said he did not understand the reason for Ms. Williams objection to the a clarifying statement in the minutes. He said that minutes are already a very abbreviated version of the board's actions and he did not see the need to further limit information to the public. Mr. Hoover added that he felt the board was “heading in the wrong direction” if they start suppressing statements. The motion to amend the minutes passed 3-2, and the edited minutes were approved.
Chairman and Financial Reports
- The district held a Math Night for parents at Riverdale.
- The dates for transfer applications and registration for next year were announced. We think the dates were Jan. 25 to Feb. 5 but check GMSD website to confirm. The district also hopes to make online enrollment even easier this year by linking Powerschool so fields will be filled in automatically.
- HR is working on evaluations
- Finance is developing Policies and Procedures, Looking for grants, and compiling budget sheets.
- Supt. Manuel suggested that the board would need a mega-work session to focus on next year’s budget.
- The district has passed the final hurdle for the Riverdale expansion plan. The architects from A2H are expected to come before the board at the January meeting to present the final plans. Special education rooms have been moved to the new building in this final plan, and other minor changes have been made. They will open bids in March (may need a special called meeting to approve the winning bid) and plan to break ground in April. Mr. Hoover asked if the board would give a vote of approval on the plans before the March bid approval. The board passed a proposal in August stating that they wanted to see the project budget before money was spent. It was to be presented to the board by November and has not been seen yet. Supt. Manuel’s answer was “no”.
Citizens to be Heard
The Consent Agenda
SS 3.602 – Workers Compensation
SBO 1.106 – Code of Ethics
HR 5.305 – Family and Medical Leave
New Policy SP 6.420 – Prevention and Treatment of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (second reading waived because it is a statewide policy that takes effect on January 1, 2016)
The board approved some adjustments to the budget. The alternative school did not anticipate having middle school students, so they are having to shift $17,000 to purchase software and learning materials for those students. Nutrition services shifted $55,000 from Aramark contact money to pay for emergency purchases and repairs (oven at Dogwood, dishwasher at Riverdale, etc.).
There was some discussion in the work session about not needing a board vote for future adjustments like this as long as the dollars were staying in the same category and were under a certain dollar amount ($5,000).
The Board Calendar
With that, the meeting was adjourned.
The next work session and meeting are scheduled for Tuesday, January 19th at City Hall.