ESCAMBIA COUNTY, FLORIDA
MINUTES, MAY 17, 2002
The School Board of Escambia County, Florida, convened in Workshop Meeting at 9:00 a.m., in the Board Room, at the Dr. Vernon McDaniel (Administration) Building, 215 West Garden Street, Pensacola, Florida, with the following present:
Chairman: Dr. John DeWitt
Vice Chairman: Ms. Linda Finkelstein
Board Members: Mr. Gary L. Bergosh
Mrs. Cary Stidham
Dr. Elmer Jenkins
School Board Attorney: Mr. Francisco M. Negron, Jr.
Superintendent of Schools: Mr. Jim Paul
I. CALL TO ORDER
Dr. DeWitt called the Regular Workshop to order at 9:05 a.m. He explained that due to an Emergency Meeting that was called, the Workshop would recess at 9:30 a.m.
Due to time constraints, the following item was moved to the front of the agenda:
The Ultimate PEP Rally Event Gary Bergosh (Item VII.B.2)
Upon request by Mr. Bergosh, Mr. Jeff Godfrey, Athletes in Action of West Florida (sponsors of The Ultimate PEP Rally), briefly reviewed information that was previously provided to the Board regarding this event. He explained that The Ultimate PEP Rally event, which would be held at the Pensacola Civic Center during November/December 2002, would consist of a two (2) hour pep rally style presentation in the morning, and a music group concert and non-denominational presentation in the evening. He stated that the funding for this event was totally outside the District budget, noting that all revenue for the event would come from sponsors or donations. The purpose of the event, was to inform students that there are consequences to violence and to promote positive peer pressure by having professional athletes share their stories. Dr. Jenkins had concerns, based on information he had received, that the Athletes in Action of West Florida was tied to a group with a religious focus of a similar name. Mr. Godfrey explained that Athletes in Action of West Florida was strictly a local organization that was not tied to any national group. Upon inquiry by Dr. Jenkins, Mr. Godfrey explained that no religious theme would come up during the morning or evening presentation, and noted that the theme of the entire event was simply non-violence. Dr. Jenkins questioned whether the District, if connected with this event, would be in trouble should the afternoon presentation involve a religious type theme. Mr. Negron stated that as noted in the documentation provided, the stated mission of the event, consisted of a faith based process, which he noted, means religion. He explained that supreme court rulings make it very clear that public agencies have to express neutrality towards religion and also make it clear that neutrality does not mean endorsement of. He had concerns not only with the stated mission of the event which consisted of a faith based process, but also that they will use that as a platform to invite students to participate in a religious activity which could well be considered to be a open forum for endorsement of religion. Dr. Jenkins stated while he was supportive of the morning presentation as long as the theme was strictly athletically inclined, he had a problem with the evening presentation, because he believed that the focus would change to a religious theme. In response to comments by Mr. Godfrey, Mr. Negron questioned what assurances and what processes will you give this Board that the group would not use the morning session as a platform to invite students to participate in a religious activity, and that you will ensure that all of your speakers will not use that as an opportunity to invite students to a religious activity. Mr. Negron stated that his concern was that once the cat is out of the bag you cant put it back in and given the fact that you are an identified faith based organization, it seems hard for this Board now to ignore that fact and to suspend their belief as it were, given the fact that your stated mission was to invite participation in later activities. Mr. Godfrey stated that the sponsors would like for a Board Member to be involved in this process to give us some direction and guidance on what we need to do to make sure that we dont step out of line in any way, because this is not a one time event but rather an event that we want to do every year. He further stated that all speakers involved in the event, could sign all the forms or come before the Board and we can do a presentation on what were going to do to ensure that this event does not have a religious theme. He also noted that if necessary, the evening presentation could be eliminated. Mrs. Stidham suggested that the event be held on a half-day. The Superintendent did not believe that the group would use the morning presentation as a platform to invite students to participate in a religious activity during the evening presentation, noting that the evening presentation was voluntary. He stated that faith based groups (i.e., Power Team), had in the past, held events at individual schools. He stated that he appreciated the efforts of this particular group, but noted that the District had to careful not to break the law. He believed that the benefit of the two (2) hour rally would outweigh any disruption to the high schools. He encouraged the Board to support this event, with the understanding that it would not involve any religious slant. Mr. Negron stated that he did not know if it (the event) would be covered under the Equal Access to Education Act which provides a limited public forum and non-discrimination on the basis of religion and so forth. He noted that this event would involve student participation during school hours, which was clearly not the same thing as simply providing a religious club to meet after school which is permissible under the current state of the law. Upon inquiry by the Superintendent, Mr. Negron stated that he did not believe you can revise this program faith is an integral religiosity religiousness is an integral part whatever you want to call it of this program, noting thats how they approach the non-violence.
The Board recognized the following speakers, who expressed their concerns regarding this issue: Susan Watson, Elwyn Kernstock and Roger Goldberg.
The Regular Workshop recessed at 9:35 a.m.
The Regular Workshop reconvened at 9:50 a.m., on May 20, 2002 with Dr. DeWitt, Mr. Bergosh, Mrs. Stidham, Dr. Jenkins, and the Superintendent present. Mr. Negron entered the Workshop at 9:52 a.m. and Ms. Finkelstein entered the Workshop at 10:10 a.m.
A. Open Discussion
No discussion was held.
II. COMMENTS FROM SUPERINTENDENT
The Superintendent listed the additions, deletions and amendments to the agenda.
III. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Minutes for all April meetings will be presented for Board approval.
IV. COMMITTEE REPORTS
1. Report from Mike Burns, Legislative Consultant to the School Board
Mr. Burns gave a brief update on budget issues, the School Code Rewrite and local legislation (i.e., Dodd Claims Bill, Civil Service Bill).
Mr. Negron entered the Workshop at 9:52 a.m.
2.Update on 2002-2003 Budget
Mrs. Barbara Linker, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Business Affairs, gave an update on the 2002-2003 Budget.
Ms. Finkelstein entered the Workshop at 10:10 a.m.
3. Update on the School Readiness Uniform Screening System
Mr. Paul Fetsko, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, gave a brief update on the School Readiness Uniform Screening System.
V. CONSENT AGENDA
A. Curriculum and Instruction
1. School Health Services Contract Renewal
Upon inquiry by Dr. DeWitt, Mrs. Barbara Linker, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Business Affairs, stated that the funding source for this item was in fact, the General Revenue Fund. Ms. Karen Thoennes, Coordinator of Health Services, explained that this item was a renewal contract to maintain existing health services of twenty-four (24) Health Support Technicians.
11. Co-nect Inc. Comprehensive School Reform Partnership Agreement
Upon inquiry by Dr. DeWitt, Mr. Wayne Odom, Director of Title I, explained that this agreement implements the outside technical assistance component required in the Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration (CSRD) project grant for O.J. Semmes Montessori School. In answer to Dr. DeWitts questions, Ms. Modeste McCorvey, principal of O.J. Semmes Montessori School, explained that several years ago O.J. Semmes Elementary was a complete montessori school. However, over the past three (3) years, teachers have transferred, and there has been no money for continuous training, therefore, montessori has become a school within a school.
21. Memorandum of Understanding between the School Board of Escambia County and CAP Head Start Program 2002-2003
Upon inquiry by Dr. DeWitt, Mr. Wayne Odom, Director of Title I, explained that this was a collaborative arrangement that had been made in the past, to accommodate the CAP Headstart Program on District campuses. He noted that while students that are eligible for the CAP Headstart Program, would be eligible for District Exceptional Student Education (ESE) programs as well, it was a matter of capacity.
Dr. DeWitt noted that there were various errors (i.e., misspellings, wrong dates, inconsistencies, wrong amounts, grammatical errors) contained in the backup information for several items under Curriculum and Instruction. He asked that those errors be corrected prior to the May 21, 2002 Regular Meeting.
7. Budget Amendments
c) Resolution 8: Capital Projects Fund
Upon inquiry by Mrs. Stidham, Mr. Ron Peacock, Director of Facilities Planning, stated that the site-work project at A.V. Clubbs Center was for a bus drop-off, to get buses off the road.
C.Human Resources Services
f. Special Requests
5. Request approval to establish the attached job descriptions:
a) Manager Educational Support Personnel
b) Specialist Human Resources/EEOC/Affirmative Action
Mrs. Stidham stated it seems odd that both positions (Manager Educational Support Personnel and Specialist Human Resources/EEOC/Affirmative Action) require a Masters Degree, noting that it seems like you require more for Specialist position. She stated that she was not supportive of the Specialist Human Resources/EEOC/Affirmative Action position. Dr. Doug Garber, Director of Human Resources Services, noted that the job description for the Manager Educational Support Personnel position did indicate a Masters Degree or an equivalent of a Bachelors Degree. Upon inquiry by Ms. Finkelstein, Dr. Garber stated that a meeting with Ms. Ellen Lawrence, UniServe Director, had occurred, and noted that while Ms. Lawrence was supportive of the positions, she did want the union to have a say in who is hired. Mrs. Stidham believed that the responsibilities for both positions (Manager Educational Support Personnel and Specialist Human Resources/EEOC/Affirmative Action) seemed similar and overlapping. Dr. Jenkins was concerned that the inclusion of the affirmative action responsibilities in the job description for Specialist Human Resources/EEOC/Affirmative Action may dilute the affirmative action concept. Mrs. Stidham stated that she was not supportive of the job description for the Specialist Human Resources/EEOC/Affirmative Action position, noting that she believed there was a better way to do this.
8. Bid Award: Courier Services, RFP #022701
Upon inquiry by Mrs. Stidham, Mr. Barry Boyer, Purchasing Manager, stated that best projections on cost-savings for the privatization of current in-house courier services, was approximately $41,000 a year. In answer to Dr. DeWitts question, Dr. Doug Garber, Director of Human Resources Services, stated that the current employees would continue to serve the District in other capacities. Mr. Bergosh stated that this issue was discussed by the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) for Finance and noted that the bulk of the courier service, is the delivery of payroll checks. Mr. Boyer noted that the cost-savings were not based solely on privatization of current in-house courier services, but also the reduction in service to three (3) days per week.
9. Bid Award: Art Paper, Bid #023904
Upon inquiry by Dr. DeWitt, Mr. Barry Boyer, Purchasing Manager, stated that this bid award, effective June 1, 2002 through May 31, 2003 was not fiscal-year sensitive.
25.Moving Services at Brentwood Middle School
Upon inquiry by Dr. DeWitt, Mr. Ted Kirchharr, Assistant Superintendent for Operations, stated that there was a need for these contracted moving services, noting theres only so many things that existing District personnel are able to do, during the summer months.
29. Bid Award: Repaving Track at Escambia High School
Upon inquiry by Dr. DeWitt, Mr. Ted Kirchharr, Assistant Superintendent for Operations, explained that the Facilities Planning Department works from a list of priorities regarding school track and tennis court repairs and replacements. He stated that he would inform Dr. DeWitt, as to where Washington High School ranked on that priority list for track repairs.
31. Bid Award: General Renovations at Cordova Park Elementary, Scenic Heights Elementary and Workman Middle Schools
(NOTE: Bids on this project were over budget, therefore, the recommendation was to reject bids and re-bid at a later date.)
Upon inquiry by Dr. DeWitt, Mr. Ted Kirchharr, Assistant Superintendent for Operations, stated that he would contact the principals from each of the three schools, to determine which renovations could occur during the summer months, that would not cause any major disruption to the schools. He stated that once that was determined, the list of renovations that could be done during the school year, could be re-packaged and re-bid and the remaining renovations, could be reserved for the following summer. Dr. DeWitt questioned whether any of the renovations could be fast tracked. Mr. Kirchharr stated not to accomplish summer work, because youve got to re-bid it, repackage youve got to pull out those pieces that you can do during the school year re-advertise those re-bid those theres no way to get that accomplished prior to school starting. In answer to Dr. DeWitts question, Mr. Kirchharr stated that all three bids were significantly over budget, due to a variety of factors (i.e., market conditions, compressed timeframe).
1. Facilities Planning
1. Pre-qualification of Contractors
Upon inquiry by Dr. Jenkins, Mr. Ted Kirchharr, Assistant Superintendent for Operations, explained that law now requires the District, to have a list of pre-qualified contractors.
1. Charter School Bus Donation: Recommended Routine and Emergency Contingency Procedures
Mr. Ted Kirchharr, Assistant Superintendent for Operations, briefly reviewed the recommended routine and emergency contingency procedures regarding charter school bus donations. He asked for consensus of the Board that this is the manner in which you want us to proceed and stated that he would work with Mr. Negron to prepare a formal policy to reflect these procedures. Upon inquiry by Mrs. Stidham, Mr. Negron stated that should the charter school decide that the donated bus was no longer needed, then the bus would revert to the District. Mrs. Stidham and Dr. DeWitt noted that the donated buses would be buses that were declared as surplus by the District and therefore, believed that the policy should clearly stated that those buses are not to revert back to the District. Upon consensus of the Board, Mr. Kirchharr stated that he would work with Mr. Negron to prepare a formal policy to reflect these procedures.
F. Student Transfers
No discussion was held.
G. Internal Auditing
2. Inventory Adjustment Reports
(NOTE: Board Members expressed concerns at the April 15, 2002 Regular Workshop regarding a missing laptop computer. Mr. Don Manderson, Director of Instructional Technology, stated that he would develop and present to the Board, procedures regarding security for laptop computers.)
Upon inquiry by Dr. DeWitt, Mr. Don Manderson, Director of Instructional Technology, presented information to the Board, regarding a tentative plan for tracking laptops. He stated that he would meet with district-wide school Technology Coordinators to discuss the tentative plan.
VI. UNFINISHED BUSINESS
ADD 1. Privatization of Custodial Services (tabled from April 26, 2002 Special Meeting)
Upon request by the Superintendent, Mr. Ted Kirchharr, Assistant Superintendent for Operations, stated that while the employee proposal regarding custodial services did contain areas of concern, it also contained areas of merit, which would require further exploration. He stated we may come back to you at some point and discuss bringing a consultant on board to assist in really further analyzing and understanding what were doing. We think theres potential there for both savings and improving quality using our in-house employees. Upon inquiry by Mrs. Stidham, Mr. Kirchharr stated that a report on this issue would be submitted at the July Regular Meeting.
VII. NEW BUSINESS
A. Proposed Additions of Revisions to School District Rules
No discussion was held.
B. Items from the Board
1. Request Superintendent to Form a Committee to Review and Prepare Guidelines for Selection of Age Appropriate Material to be Used for Student Performances Personnel Representing Language Arts and Drama should be Included in Committee Membership Guideline Recommendations to be Presented as School Board Policy at the July 2002 Regular Meeting of the School Board Cary Stidham
Upon inquiry by Ms. Finkelstein, the Superintendent stated that the current procedure for deciding which material can be used for student performances is a school based decision. He explained that the principal is required to review script and sign a form saying that they find that it meets community standards. In answer to Dr. DeWitts question, the Superintendent stated that while he believed that this issue could be handled internally, if the Board believed that a policy was necessary, he would schedule a meeting with language arts and drama personnel to discuss. Mrs. Stidham explained that various plays had been performed by students, which she did not believe were age appropriate for students (i.e., Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All To You performed by Woodham High School students). She believed that guidelines should be developed, regarding the selection of age appropriate material to be used for student performances. Upon inquiry by Ms. Finkelstein, Mrs. Stidham stated that she believed the guidelines should apply to any play performed by high school students. Dr. Jenkins stated that he would have concerns, if the guidelines were too restrictive on high school students. The Superintendent noted there were many issues (i.e., profanity, sexual acts/innuendoes, and religious aspersions) that were not appropriate for student performances. He believed that it was possible to craft guidelines that would not be too restrictive. Dr. Jenkins expressed concerns regarding a similar, but separate issue regarding two schools that recently held slave auctions, which he noted should not occur again.
2. The Ultimate PEP Rally Event Gary Bergosh
(NOTE: This item was also discussed earlier in the minutes.)
Mr. Bergosh stated that while there had been concerns expressed regarding the entanglement of the District with religion he did not believe that there would be any entanglement, if no laws were violated. Upon inquiry by Mr. Bergosh, Mr. Negron stated that with regard to this particular program, I would not recommend anything that you do, but deny it based on its unconstitutional nature. He did not believe that there was anything that could be done with the proposed event, as presented, to make it a constitutional endeavor. He believed that religion is clearly entangled with this program, they will have a captive audience, it will be during school time and noted that all of those elements lead to, in my opinion, an unconstitutional entanglement with religion. Mrs. Stidham questioned how it is a captive audience when you cannot make them go. Mr. Negron explained that legally defined, it would be a captive audience because the students are allowed to attend the event during school hours. Mr. Bergosh stated that he was supportive of this event, as long as all speakers involved in the event, would sign the necessary form, to ensure that their presentations address non-violence issues only, with no mention of faith. Dr. Jenkins stated that while he did support the concept of The Ultimate PEP Rally, he was concerned that the students would be a captive audience if allowed to participate during school hours, and suggested that the event be held after school hours. The Superintendent questioned whether the proposal for the The Ultimate PEP Rally could be rewritten and re-submitted to the Board at a later date. Mr. Negron reiterated his comments regarding the issue of entanglement. Mr. Bergosh believed that the proposal could be rewritten without any issue of entanglement.
C. Items from the Superintendent
No discussion was held.
D. Items from the General Counsel
No items were submitted.
There being no further business, the Regular Workshop adjourned at 11:55 a.m.