Suzanne Jones Responds….
Ms. Jones took to Facebook to defend her actions in this post. She also addressed her fellow Board Members just prior to last night's Work Session.
After receiving an unbelievable amount of outpouring of support and inquiries from our community regarding events in our last meeting, it reinforced to me that our citizens want and demand a strong voice on our School Board. I will continue to be a strong voice and will continue to ask the hard questions necessary to support our Superintendent in all that he needs to continue to make our District better and stronger.
Our superintendent has stated many times that he would like to acquire the 3G schools. I believe that we as a supportive school board should do all that we can to help make this happen. During all of the conversations I have had with our School Board and City Leadership regarding my conversations with Shelby County Schools, no one asked me what I learned through these conversations. I would like to take a moment to share what I learned.
I learned that many of the prior conversations were not perceived as cohesive and did not address the issues which Shelby County perceives as obstacles in coming to an agreement. Any offer or discussion or negotiation with Shelby County is about more than brick and mortar and a dollar offer….it is about the STUDENTS – all of the students, Shelby County and GMSD.
I also learned that the word “partner” had not been used enough or at all during our discussions and negotiations. This could lead them to believe that we were not interested in reaching an agreement to benefit both parties.
I found out that exploratory conversations were considered by some to be a great starting point to determine what obstacles exist and how to best overcome them.
Since the students will be at the heart of the negotiations, I believe that our School Board should be a strong voice at the negotiation table. We should not defer to the City because they are the funding body. I see this no differently than how we have handled the land site selection and the design of a new school. We need to have our superintendent at the negotiation table with a strong school board voice behind him.
We also need to come in with a positive outlook on the negotiation. For negotiations to be different we need to think differently and ensure that we enter the negotiations expecting that there will be an agreement. If you enter into negotiations believing they will not be successful – they never will be…
Lastly, I would like to confirm the following timeline which was detailed in the last work session by our Chair:
A written offer to Shelby County Schools will be completed by May 2nd And that Our school board (through our executive committee) will be involved in conversations with Shelby County in April to help arrive at the written offer to be delivered on May 2nd.
Our citizens are asking that our School Board be a strong voice for them in all key decisions which impact our District – no matter who pays for them. My efforts to make a difference are not ambitious, but rather are earnest efforts to ensure that we are doing the best we can for our District and Community.
The first item on the Work Session agenda was Suzanne Jones' presentation of GMSD's 2017 GMSD Legislative Agenda. It was unanimously approved later during the Board's Business Meeting.
Mr. Manuel and the Board emphatically agreed to oppose vouchers. Mr. Manuel explained that the schools receiving tax payer money via vouchers are not held to the same accountability standards as traditional public schools. Specifically, teachers and students are not assessed and evaluated in the same strict manner. The Board also took a position against bills that would infringe upon their ability to govern their school system and interfere with local control over our schools. Unfortunately, the bill proposed to streamline the bidding process for school systems received some push back in committee and its passage is now in jeopardy. This bill stems from a resolution presented to the Board by previous GMSD Legislative liaison, Natalie Williams in August, 2016. This bill would not affect GMSD as explained in our JAM blog from August because our district uses a preferred provider system.
The Board reviewed the following policies during the Work Session then later in the Business Meeting approved them on first reading by consent:
- Revision Policy IP 4.202 Special Education
- Revision Policy IP 4.613 Programs for Students with Disabilities
- Policy IP 4.614 Isolation or Restraint of Students Receiving IDEA Special Education Services
The Board also approved by consent in its Business Meeting the following policy revisions on second reading:
- Revised IP 4.502 Parental and Family Involvement
- Revised IP 4.700 Testing Programs.02
- Revised Policy IP 4.600 Grading
- Revised Policy IP 4.602 Honor Roll Awards Class Ranking
- Revision SP 6.200 Attendance, Pregnancy and Truancy (2017)
- Revision SP 6.405 Administering Medicines to students (2017revision)
- Revision SP 6.416 Students Accident Report - Update 1.17.17 (2)
- SP 6.309 Zero Tolerance Offenses Revision
- SP 6.409 Child Abuse and Neglect Revision (2017)
- SP 6.414 Guidance and School Counseling Revision (2017)
Also during the Business Meeting, the Board approved by consent the following new policy on second reading:
Presentation on Honors & Leadership Academy at HHS
During the Work Session, Dr. Simone and Coach Becker from Houston High School presented to the board an overview of the HHS Honors Academy and the newly formed Leadership Academy. Both programs have an emphasis on leadership and service with the Honors Academy also adding a component of academic achievement. Since the Leadership Academy formed, the number of students entering the Honors Academy has decreased slightly. Dr. Simone said most of the students coming into the Honors Academy are now private school students.
New Furniture for Riverdale
During the Work Session, the Board watched a presentation showing the new furnishings for Riverdale's expansion wing. The modern new furniture will go into the administrative offices, lobby, conference room, and middle school classrooms. The classroom recommendation is to go with a combination of desks that can be put together to create tables for several students or can stand alone as desks for one or two students. One of the desks was on display at the meeting for parents and the public. The Board approved the selection in its Business Meeting.
Noting tax and liability reasons, Mr. Haddow recommended in the Work Session that the Board continue contracting out for its sub finder and renew its contract with Kelly Services. This recommendation was made after good reports from school administrators who were pleased with both the efficiency of Kelly Services and the quality of substitute teachers provided.
Employee Health Benefits
Also during the Work Session, Mr. Haddow presented several options for Employee Health Benefits—Self Insured or fully insured (thus far)
On Josh Cathey's recommendation the board voted to extend its current contract with GCA for building maintenance:
- ENA MSA Extension - Germantown Municipal SD- IA
- Signed Germantown Contract
- Electronic Copy RFP #FY150053 5-22-15
- SIGNED ACCEPTANCE FOR MAINT. MANAGEMENT-GERMANTOWN
Based on feedback from a district wide committee consisting of a school principal, school board member, PTA president, and teacher; Mr. Cathey recommended in the Work Session that the board approve a new vendor for custodial services. The Committee reviewed the top bids and chose American Facilities Services to be the new custodial provider replacing GCA. The Board approved that bid in its Business Meeting.
Partial Re-Roofing at HHS
During the Work Session, Mr. Cathey also recommended that Jolly Roofing be selected from the bids presented as the contractor for Houston High School's partial roof replacement. The Board approved the bid in its Business Meeting as part of the consent agenda.
- 3631301 Houston high school partial reroof drawing
- 3631301 Houston high school partial reroof project manual
- Bid Tabulation HHS Roof
- Bid Tabulation HHS Roofing Project
- Review Letter
This was touched on briefly during the Work Session but a more thorough explanation was given by Mr. Manuel during the Business Meeting where he explained that our contract with Durham for bus services requires GMSD to pay a penalty to the Collierville School System for the increased costs associated with GMSD changing its start times last year. That amount will be $175K annually.
Also, the inter-local agreement with Collierville to provide enrollment for their residents at Houston Middle and Houston High has now expired. As part of that agreement, GMSD did not have to pay a fee for use of the old SCS bus lot located in Collierville. Now that the agreement has expired, GMSD will pay $15,000 annually to Collierville for the bus lot usage.
Based on Mason Grace's recommendations, the Board voted to renew its contract for data connection and internet services:
Resolution for Distribution of funds to SSOs
Last year, the Board established a precedence for using some of its surplus budget to fulfill a wish list item for a school support organization. And the HHS Band was chosen to receive $25,000 for new uniforms. This year, the Board decided to split up the money and benefit more than one organization. A resolution was adopted by the Board to make the following donations:
Trap Team $2,500
Volleyball Team $2,800
HHS Choirs $2,780 (or something like that, we couldn't hear the exact amount)