ESCAMBIA COUNTY, FLORIDA
MINUTES, OCTOBER 21, 2002
The School Board of Escambia County, Florida, convened in Workshop Meeting at 1:30 p.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. Norm Ross, Deputy Superintendent (represented Mr. Jim Paul)
I. CALL TO ORDER
Dr. DeWitt called the Regular Workshop to order at 1:40 p.m.
A. Open Discussion
1. Procedures for Handling Formal Hearing Requests Gary L. Bergosh
2. Proposed Additions to Students Rights and Responsibilities Handbook Gary L. Bergosh
(NOTE: The following recommendations were made in response to an incident involving a Pensacola High School student, who was recommended for expulsion after finding a bag of pills on campus. The student claimed that she was afraid to turn the bag of pills in to the school administration because of the Districts zero tolerance policy and intended to dispose of the bag but was caught before she could. The District recommended expulsion but the students parents appealed for a formal hearing. The student was later reinstated by an independent hearing officer, who recommended at most, a 10-day suspension.) While Mr. Bergosh believed that the process worked in the Pensacola High School incident, he suggested that the Board consider adding a safe harbor provision in the Students Rights and Responsibilities Handbook. He explained that the safe harbor provision would specify that if students who find drugs on campus or accidentally bring their prescription medication on campus, turn the drugs in to an administrator or teacher, then the automatic expulsion provision would not apply.
Mr. Bergosh also noted a section in the Students Rights and Responsibilities Handbook, (under Zero Tolerance) which stated The unlawful use, possession or sale of controlled substance . . . He suggested that the word distribute also be included in that statement. Dr. Jenkins questioned whether the Board should take a second look at the zero tolerance concept.
Mr. Bergosh believed that the Board should also consider an expedited hearing officer procedure, whereas if a student is expelled, then it goes straight to the Superintendent within a seven (7) day time frame, a hearing officer is appointed and the hearing has to occur within fourteen (14) days and we (the Board) would not have to approve that (formal hearing request). Mrs. Stidham noted that the reason why it (formal hearing request) comes to us (the Board) for approval is because the Board could hear the case instead. She noted that because students are entitled (by law) to a formal hearing, the Board could not deny them that request anyway and therefore, the Board could choose a procedure in which the case goes directly to a hearing officer. She suggested that the expedited hearing officer procedure be included on the agenda for the November Organizational Meeting. Mr. Bergosh stated that with the assistance of Mr. Negron, he would develop policies regarding these issues and present them (for advertisement approval) at the November Regular Meeting.
Minority Recruitment and Retention
(NOTE: The following request refers to discussion from the October 3, 2002 Special Meeting, where the Superintendent stated that he would personally assume the responsibility of drafting and overseeing the implementation of the Districts recruitment and retention plan.)
Mr. Bergosh requested a monthly report regarding the Districts recruitment and retention plan. Ms. Finkelstein believed that a monthly report was imperative and should begin as soon as possible, even in the organizing process, so that the public has a clear understanding of where we are going with this and is part of that process. Upon inquiry by Mr. Ross, Mr. Bergosh stated that he would appreciate a monthly report by both the Superintendent and Dr. Jenkins (for the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) for Human Resources and Minority Recruitment/Retention), as they would provide two perspectives.
Beulah Academy of Science, Inc.
Upon inquiry by Dr. DeWitt, Mr. Ross stated that allegations regarding Beulah Academy of Science, Inc. were currently under investigation by the appropriate law enforcement agency. He stated that to date, no information as to the outcome of that investigation had been received, other than notification that there had been an arrest of a former teacher. Mr. Bergosh questioned whether the District could conduct an administrative investigation before the completion of the criminal investigation was completed. Mr. Negron confirmed that it was not necessary for the District to wait until the criminal investigation was complete before conducting an administrative investigation. Mr. Ross stated that a response on this issue would be provided to the Board as soon as possible.
UNUM Provident Insurance
Mrs. Stidham stated that District employees had recently received a letter from UNUM Provident, which indicated that they (UNUM Provident) were the long-term care insurance provider through the District. She believed that this particular insurance provider might have been featured on a recent television news program for allegedly not honoring insurance claims due to financial problems. Mr. Joe Bernard, Director of Risk Management, stated that he had not received any complaints from District employees regarding this particular insurance provider, however, he would check into the situation as requested by Mrs. Stidham.
Vacant School District Buildings
Mrs. Stidham questioned whether it would be less expensive in the long run to demolish vacant buildings that were not longer useable by the District. She noted that by doing so, the District would not have to bear the expense of liability insurance. At the request of Mrs. Stidham, Mr. Ted Kirchharr, Assistant Superintendent for Operations, stated that he would research the costs associated with demolishing the vacant buildings.
Dr. DeWitt gave a brief update on the last meeting of the last meeting of the Committee on Legislative Platform (Florida School Boards Association). He stated that the Committee was currently developing a legislative platform and final vote would occur at the Committees December meeting. He noted that the main items for the platform included a uniform State calendar (proposed by the Tourism Council) and repeal of the John McKay Scholarships.
Update on Pre-K Coalition Issues
(NOTE: This issue was previously discussed at the September 13, 2002 Regular Workshop.) Dr. DeWitt noted that there were many children, eligible for pre-k services that were not being serviced due to a shortage of funds under the Pre-K Coalition. He noted that due to a decision made by the Coalition regarding funding requirements, the District was servicing only about half of the number of students as compared to previous years. He explained that after assessment, the Coalition identified forty-one (41) children that were determined ineligible and they instructed us to remove those children from our pre-k programs. Dr. DeWitt stated that he had requested that the Coalition and staff review each case individually and were able to identify thirty (30) children that qualified under other criteria and were able to remain in the pre-k programs. There are currently eleven (11) children who remain ineligible because they did not meet any criteria. He stated that before a letter was sent to the parents of those eleven (11) children, notifying them that they were no longer eligible, he would like to know if the Board could work something out so that those children may remain in the pre-k programs that they have been attending since the beginning of the school year (August). Mr. Paul Fetsko, Assistant Superintendent for Operations, eligibility requirements when circumstances change and those children are no longer eligible for Coalition funding then there is no funding source for those children (they are not funded through Title I or FTE) - there were approximately 200 children who were turned away before the school year began, for not meeting the same eligibility requirement that these eleven (11) do not meet believed that it was kind of discriminatory to hold certain populations at certain standards at a different point in time and then not in another. Mr. Wayne Odom, Director of Title I, explained that if were filling those eleven (11) seats with children for whom we get no reimbursement then those are seat that can not be occupied by children who will earn reimbursement for the District. Mrs. Stidham questioned whether this would be a perpetual problem, happening continuously throughout the school year. Mr. Odom stated that as time progressed, more students would be deemed ineligible and would be required to leave the program. Upon inquiry by Ms. Finkelstein, Mr. Odom explained that schools were instructed to grant tentative placement (pending final determination of eligibility) for children, who in their best judgement would meet eligibility requirements. After assessment, forty-one (41) children were determined ineligible. However, the Coalition reviewed each case individually and were able to identify qualify thirty (30) children that under other criteria and those children were able to remain in the pre-k programs. He noted that there are eleven (11) children remaining that do not qualify for eligibility on any basis. Ms. Finkelstein believed that it was important to make a decision that is best for those eleven (11) we are not dealing with the other 200 children. Upon inquiry by Ms. Finkelstein, Mr. Fetsko stated that the cost to the District, for those eleven (11) children to remain their current pre-k programs was approximately $35,800. Dr. DeWitt stated that he would add this item to the October Regular Meeting agenda.
II. COMMENTS FROM SUPERINTENDENT
Mr. Ross (representing Mr. Jim Paul) provided the Board with a listing of the additions, deletions, amendments and corrections to the agenda.
III. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Minutes for all September meetings will be presented for Board approval.
IV. COMMITTEE/DEPARTMENTAL REPORTS
1. Report from Mike Adkins, Audit Committee
Due to the absence of Mr. Adkins, no report from the Audit Committee was given.
2. Report from Mike Burns, Legislative Consultant to the School Board
Mr. Burns gave the following report:
Class Size Reduction Amendment Proposed constitutional amendment, which would reduce class sizes in Florida. Mr. Burns noted that if approved, this amendment would have an immense financial impact on the District.
Legislative Platform Mr. Burns requested that each Board Member submit their recommendations to him, so that he could compile a legislative platform for the upcoming Florida Delegation meeting in January. Once compiled, he suggested that the legislative platform be included on a future workshop agenda, for discussion purposes.
V. CONSENT AGENDA
A. Curriculum and Instruction
2. Dual Enrollment/District Inter-institutional Articulation Agreement between the District Board of Trustees of the Pensacola Junior College and the School Board of Escambia County, Florida
(NOTE: This issue was previously mentioned at the August 16, 2002 Regular Workshop.) At the request of Ms. Finkelstein, Dr. Alan Scott, Director of Secondary Education, gave an overview of this item. He explained that this articulation agreement, (which was the result of an effort by Legislators to help students early exit from high school), would expand the dual enrollment opportunities that are available to students. He stated that there was some question of academic rigor with regard to several issues (i.e., credits received, hours of instruction, honors weight, and double credits), which may give dual enrollment students an unfair advantage over other students [i.e., International Baccalaureate (IB) students, Advanced Placement (AP) students]. In addition to that, he noted that there were many other issues that would need to be addressed with the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) as they had not provided clear guidelines on how to handle this initiative. Dr. Scott stated that his greatest concern was that once parents buy into this, we (the District) are going to lose student enrollment. He explained that from a District perspective this could be hardship, as the District would lose FTE funding for students who choose the early exit option. However, from a student perspective, this will allow those students who wish to take advantage of this option, early exit from high school at the end of the junior year so they can go on to a junior or four-year university instead of spending their senior year in high school with us. Upon inquiry by Dr. DeWitt, Dr. Scott that that he would meet with representatives of the University of West Florida (UWF) to develop an articulation agreement similar to the one with Pensacola Junior College.
No discussion was held.
C. Human Resources Services
No discussion was held.
3. Annual Agreement Renewal: Professional Services R&J Business Associates, Inc.
(NOTE: This item was previously deleted from the September 17, 2002 Regular Meeting agenda.) Dr. DeWitt stated that there was no contract included in the supporting documentation for this item. Mr. John Dombroskie, Senior Purchasing Agent, stated that while the contract was not included in the supporting documentation, it was provided to the Board Office in a separate folder. In response to comments made by Dr. DeWitt, Mr. Dombroskie stated that a performance guarantee clause was included in the contract.
8. Lightspan Educational Software for Semmes Elementary School
Dr. DeWitt noted that there was no contract included in the supporting documentation for this item. Mrs. Stidham and Dr. DeWitt noted that this software was previously used by several schools in the District and requested documented results, as to the performance of this particular software. Mrs. Stidham stated that she would not support this item unless that documentation was provided, as she wanted to be sure that the software had actually benefited students.
10. Emergency Roof Repairs to Carpenter Shop Due to Storm Damage (Tropical Storm Hanna) Notification Only
11. Emergency Roof Repairs to Brown Barge Middle School Due to Storm Damage (Tropical Storm Hanna) Notification Only
Dr. DeWitt noted that there was question as to whether these items (which indicate notification only) would require Board approval. Mr. Negron stated that he would refer to appropriate rule, and would advise the Board prior to the October 22, 2002 regarding this issue.
1. Facilities Planning
1. Pensacola-Escambia County Governmental Authority (GCA) Property Conveyance
Mr. Ted Kirchharr, Assistant Superintendent for Operations, explained that this item was a request to waive the requirement that the Governmental Center Authority (GCA) provide title insurance on the proposed conveyance of property to the District by the GCA. Upon inquiry by Dr. DeWitt, Mr. Negron stated that whatever lease agreement that the Property Appraiser has with the GCA would continue however, the lease would be assigned to us for the duration of the lease period.
9. Spot Survey for Judy Andrews Pre-K Center
(NOTE: The following discussion refers to the Judy Andrews facility, which previously housed the Judy Andrews Pre-K program. As a result of prior Board action (from the March 4, 2002 Special Meeting) to move the Judy Andrews Pre-K program to an existing K-5 site, the facility was currently vacant.) Mrs. Stidham questioned how this facility would be used. Mr. Ted Kirchharr, Assistant Superintendent for Operations and Mr. Paul Fetsko, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, stated that there were several possibilities (i.e., leasing) that would need to be reviewed regarding the use of this facility.
1. Replacement Buses for Bus Fleet
In response to concerns expressed by Mrs. Stidham, Mr. Ted Kirchharr, Assistant Superintendent for Operations, stated that he would provide information on which vendors the replacement buses would be purchased from, prior to the October Regular Meeting.
Mr. Bergosh left the Regular Workshop at 3:12 p.m.
2. School Food Services
2. State of Florida Department of Health Child Care Food Program FY 2002-2003 Contract
Mrs. Stidham noted that this particular contract includes two (2) pages entitled Board of Directors Certification, which would require certification from the Board of compliance with all items listed. She noted that one item that the Board could not comply with, which stated Board Members do not vote on decisions regarding their own compensation or that of a related party. Ms. Edwinna Williams, Principal of Sidney Nelson Teen Parent Program, stated that she would contact the Florida Department of Health to request an adjustment to that particular statement and would provide an amended contract prior to the October Regular Meeting.
F. Student Transfers
Upon inquiry by Dr. DeWitt, Mr. Ireland Brock, Director of Pupil Instructional Services, stated that information was still being gathered and a report regarding student transfer policy recommendations would be forthcoming.
G. Internal Auditing
No discussion was held.
VI. UNFINISHED BUSINESS
No items were submitted.
VII. NEW BUSINESS
A. Proposed Additions of Revisions to School District Rules
1. Notice of Intent to Advertise Amendment to School District Rule 6Gx17-2.04(4) Recruitment and Selection of Administrative/Professional Personnel
(NOTE: This rule authorizes the Superintendent to recommend positions be filled with step placement not exceeding five (5) steps above the lowest step for the positions grade level.) Mrs. Stidham noted that five (5) steps were equivalent to ten percent (10%). She believed that if the grade level for a particular position was determined to be insufficient, then it would be appropriate for the Superintendent to recommend an increase in grade level for that position. She noted that the solution is in the grade level not the steps as they (the steps) are not there for additional salary, but rather for movement once an employee is in place. Dr. DeWitt noted a situation where an employee was moved to a higher grade level and because they were already on a high step at the previous grade level, the new grade level could be equal or less than what the employee was already receiving. He questioned whether that employee would be caught under the five (5) step rule. Mrs. Stidham stated that while that particular issue was not addressed in the rule amendment, it could be added. Dr. Doug Garber, Director or Human Resource Services, noted that were several Speech Pathologist currently on the Instructional Salary Schedule that would be moving over to the Administrative/Professional Salary Schedule. He explained that for an initial employee (Speech Pathologist) coming into the District it would be very equitable, but for employees (Speech Pathologists) with many years of experience moving over from the teachers salary schedule (Instructional Salary Schedule), it would not be fair to place them at entry level and limited to five (5) steps. Upon inquiry by Mrs. Stidham, Dr. Garber stated that this was an isolated issue, as the Speech Pathologists were the only group that were actually moving from the Instructional Salary Schedule to the Administrative/Professional Salary Schedule. He stated that he would provide information regarding this issue, prior to the October Regular Meeting. Mrs. Stidham noted that this issue (Speech Pathologists) involved only a small sector of employees and believed that adjustments could be made to accommodate them.
B. Items from the Board
1. Comparison of Application of Rules and Regulations (FHSAA/Administrative) as they Pertain to High School and Middle School Athletes Linda Finkelstein
Ms. Finkelstein referred to the following excerpts from the 2001-2002 Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) Handbook:
A student may participate in interscholastic athletic competition until reaching the age of 19 years 9 months, so far as age is concerned. (Section 11.6.1); 2)
A middle school student may participate in interscholastic athletic competition until reaching the age of 15 years 9 months, so far as age is concerned. (Section 11.6.3). (NOTE: The District does belong to the FHSAA for high school athletics, but does not for middle school athletics.)
Ms. Finkelstein stated that currently, District (Administrative) rules specify that any middle school student who reaches the age of 15 during their eighth (8th) grade year cannot participate in middle school athletics. She questioned whether it was fair to have a child may have been retained at some point in their educational time, not to be able to participate in athletics for their eight (8th) grade year, but go ahead and play in high school. Mr. Manny Harageones, Subject Area Specialist - Physical Education, Health, Wellness, Driver Education and Athletics, provided a handout to the Board, which outlined a comparison of FHSAA middle school athletic eligibility requirements and those of the District (Administrative). He noted the District (Administrative) age eligibility requirement, which specifies that a middle school student may participate in basketball, swimming, track and field, and cheerleading as long as he/she does not turn 15 during the school year. He explained that the age eligibility requirement was developed by middle school principals, with rationale being that eligibility is designed to promote academic achievement and to encourage students to advance with their graduating class. He noted that participation in a scholastic athletic competition is a privilege that students must earn through academic achievement. Ms. Roxanne Martin, Teacher on Special Assignment - Physical Education, Health, Wellness, Driver Education and Athletics, gave a brief review as to why the District does not belong the FHSAA middle school athletics, citing reasons such as membership fees, fines, eligibility requirements, and lack of flexibility with scheduling and official athletic rules. Mr. Harageones noted that this issue was discussed at the last middle school principals meeting. He advised that middle school principals unanimously support leaving it (current process) like it is. Ms. Finkelstein clarified that her intent was simply to question whether the current process was truly an equitable way to treat kids in middle school, and not to suggest that District should join the FHSAA for middle school athletics.
Dr. Jenkins left the Regular Workshop at 3:50 p.m.
1. Update on Pre-K Coalition Issues John DeWitt
This item was discussed earlier in the meeting.
C. Items from the Superintendent
No discussion was held.
D. Items from the General Counsel
No discussion was held.
Although not an agenda item, the following issue was discussed:
[NOTE: This issue was previously addressed at the August 20, 2002 Regular Meeting (Item VII.C.6)] Mr. Paul Fetsko, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, stated that a committee [members from Purchasing, Operations, Instructional Technology and Management Information Systems (MIS)] had reviewed the status of the eAgenda initiative, discussed the results of the RFP issued in this regard, and suggested an action plan for the District to begin limited implementation. The following was the suggested limited implementation course of action: 1) use existing GroupWise system to begin the electronic transfer of agenda items; 2) purchase Adobe Acrobat software for the creation of PDF files by selected staff and support personnel; 3) train selected staff on the software process for submission of agenda items; 4) schedule demonstration(s) of RFP respondents proposals; 5) make the agenda available on the District website for public review; and 6) after presentations and trial implementation, review the process, software and hardware for further implementation and/or direction for the eAgenda initiative. He noted that this limited implementation proposal would give appropriate stakeholders a low-cost (estimated $2,500) opportunity to explore the efficiency of this initiative to be able to make a more informed decision related to expansion of this communication solution.
There being no further business, the Regular Workshop adjourned at 4:00 p.m.