You can find the agenda for the Work Session here and the Business Meeting here. You can also watch the videos: Work Session, Business Meeting
Suzanne Jones reported that the voucher bill was going to be discussed in the House Finance Subcommittee next week. If the bill makes it out of committee, she plans to travel to Nashville to voice the district's opposition. The bill requiring new school buses to have seat belts will not likely pass this year due to budget constraints. Budget constraints will also likely kill funding for RTI positions this year. If the RTI funding is not included in this year's budget, it is very likely to be funded as part of next year's BEP. The state budget is in limbo this year due to the uncertainty of the Governor's request for a gas tax increase. That bill has now passed both the House and Senate.
Chair Linda Fisher thanked the teachers, administrators, and students of Farmington Elementary for hosting a visit by Dr. Candice McQueen, the Tennessee Commissioner of Education. She is on a tour of the state, and came to Farmington to look at their literacy program. Ms. Fisher then reminded everyone that the GMSD 5K Stampede is scheduled for this weekend, and it is not too late to register. You can learn more about that event here.
Superintendent Manuel gave a brief update on the district's various committees. The Calendar Committee and the Legislative Breakfast Committee have both completed their work for this year. The Site Analysis Committee has completed its work as well. The Design Review Committee for the new elementary school has met, but they are on hold until the budget for that project is determined. The Foreign Language Committee will have its first of about three meetings soon. The Community Conversations Committee is up and running, and the OPEB Committee is nearing the end of several years of analysis. The OPEB Committee is expected to present its recommendations at the School Board Retreat. By the way, we have no idea what the Community Conversations Committee is.
UPDATE: Many thanks to former School Board Member Natalie Williams for reaching out to us to explain the purpose of the Community Conversations Committee. She informed us that "it is a partnership with Vanderbilt University to look at how we transition special ed students from public education classrooms into the workplace."
Items of note for March: The district received approximately $6 Million through property taxes, Aramark earned a $2,000 profit, and the Health Insurance account was hit by a large $84,000 claim. The district has approximately $1.25 Million in its OPEB account. You can access the financial sheets below.
Joan Oschack, a former Riverdale middle school teacher, also spoke about class sizes. She referenced the Tennessee STAR study and others that the district has used when setting its optimal class sizes. She commented that research studies cannot always account for differences in student populations. She agreed with the administration's assertion that a highly qualified teacher can manage a class of 35 students, but asked if it is fair to ask teachers to do that.
Meg Jackson, a parent, urged the board to discuss class sizes. She said that one of the reasons many parents voted to form the municipal school district was to have smaller class sizes. She stated that the district has set numbers for optimal class sizes, but has not made progress in reaching them. She proposed that they develop a clear plan for achieving that goal, and set a target date that can be communicated to parents.
Special Courses at Houston High & Textbook Adoption
- Policy IP 4.614 Isolation or Restraint of Students Receiving IDEA Special Education Services
- Revision Policy IP 4.202 Special Education
- Revision Policy IP 4.613 Programs for Students with Disabilities
Money for Cheer, Softball, and iPads
The Board also voted to spend approximately $290K for iPads for 7th and 8th graders. This is a change in the original 1:1 initiative that planned for those grades to receive laptops. They will receive iPads instead. But high schoolers will still receive laptops.
Green Space at Riverdale
Ms. Jones went on to thank Mr. Manuel during the Business Meeting discussion of the budget for his hard work and ablilty to do so much with our resources. In a long prepared speech, Ms. Parker told the Board that this was not her first rodeo and is the fourth budget she has voted on as a School Board member. She then listed how GMSD met its goals, invested in OPEB, moved forward with capital improvements, changed start times, and more over the past three years. Ms. Fisher echoed how GMSD overcame past budget challenges. She noted that GMSD is well compensating its employees and funding OPEB.
New Business & Announcements
Ms. Fisher said the Board Retreat will held on May 2-3, with the next School Board meeting scheduled for May 15.