ESCAMBIA COUNTY, FLORIDA
MINUTES, SEPTEMBER 13, 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. Norm Ross, Deputy Superintendent (represented Mr. Jim Paul)
I. CALL TO ORDER
Dr. DeWitt called the workshop to order at 9:07 a.m.
A. Open Discussion
Juvenile Justice Board
Dr. DeWitt noted that the Board had received a request for appointment of a Board Member to the Juvenile Justice Board. The Board collectively agreed to appoint Mr. Bergosh (who had volunteered to do so), to the Juvenile Justice Board. Dr. DeWitt stated that he would notify the Juvenile Justice Board of the appointment.
Elementary School Recess
Mr. Bergosh stated that a parent of a student at Blue Angels Elementary School had contacted him regarding elementary school recess. Mr. Bergosh explained that while all elementary schools have organized physical education classes, this parent felt that it would also be beneficial to have recess built into the curriculum (for all elementary schools) as well. The parent believed that if elementary school students were cooped up all day, and unable to release excess physical energy by way of recess, they would have difficulty learning. Mr. Bergosh noted that he had contacted the principal of Blue Angels Elementary School, who advised that teachers have discretion to take their kids outside whenever they deem it necessary. Dr. Jenkins stated that unless an in-depth study supported the idea of adding recess to the curriculum, he believed that it should remain at the teachers discretion. Mr. Paul Fetsko, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, explained that teachers are encouraged to allow time for recess, if it fits into the (school) day. He noted that teachers are sensitive to students need for recess and believed that it should remain at the teachers discretion, to find the right time in the school day to do so.
Recruitment and Hiring of Minority Teachers
[NOTE: The following comments were in response to criticism (via public meetings and the media) from several members of the community, regarding the recruitment and hiring of minority employees.] Mr. Bergosh stated that he was sensitive to this issue and had spoken with the Superintendent and Mr. Norm Ross, Deputy Superintendent, regarding his concerns. Dr. Jenkins noted that he too, had concerns about this issue and believed that the District could do a better job of explaining to the public why we dont have many minority teachers. He suggested that a recruitment team be established, that would be representative of the District, by consisting of majority and minority teachers and administrators. He also suggested that the District work with local agencies (i.e., Chamber of Commerce, credit unions) to develop incentives for new recruits, such as low-interest loans or reduced rent for a year. Mrs. Stidham stated that obviously what we are doing now is not working, so I think that (recruiting process) needs to be revamped. Dr. DeWitt noted that several members of the community had requested to meet with the Board and Superintendent to discuss this issue. The Board and Mr. Ross (representing Mr. Jim Paul) agreed to schedule a Special Workshop on September 17, 2002, at 5:00 p.m., for the purpose of discussing the recruitment and hiring of minority teachers. Mr. Ross (representing Mr. Jim Paul) stated that this issue was of high priority with the Superintendent and staff. He noted that the current recruiting process would be evaluated and a new action plan developed. Dr. Jenkins suggested that the recruitment of male teachers also be reviewed, noting that there was currently a shortage of both majority and minority male teachers.
The Board recognized Ms. Mary Caldwell, who expressed her concerns regarding an increase in student fighting (i.e., riots and gangs) at Pensacola High School, which she believed may have resulted from previous changes in school attendance zones. Mr. Ross (representing Mr. Jim Paul) acknowledged that there had been a recent increase in student fighting at Pensacola High School. He assured the Board that staff was working extremely hard to get control over what seems to be a rash of misconduct by a small population of students. He stated that increasing supervision at several school campuses would be helpful, but noted that to bring a campus such as Pensacola High School up to 70% with regards to supervision would require 80 additional individuals. Ms. Finkelstein believed that if Pensacola High School was in need of additional supervision assistance, if even for a limited amount of time, then the District needed to able to offer that assistance.
II. COMMENTS FROM SUPERINTENDENT
Mr. Ross (representing Mr. Jim Paul) listed the additions, deletions, amendments and corrections to the agenda.
III. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Minutes for all August meetings will be presented for Board approval.
IV. COMMITTEE/DEPARTMENTAL REPORTS
1. Report from Mike Burns, Legislative Consultant to the School Board
Mr. Burns gave the following report:
Small School Requirement (NOTE: Ms. Finkelstein had requested information on this legislation.) This particular legislation (Section 1013.43 of the K-20 Education Code) was passed during the last legislative session. This requirement does not apply to plans for new educational facilities already under architectural contract before July 1, 2003.
2. Report from Mike Adkins, Audit Committee
Mr. Adkins noted that Ms. Alita Hudson, University of West Florida was recently appointed to the Audit Committee. He stated that the Committed had approved a follow-up report on the Saturday School Program at Weis Elementary School. He advised that there were significant concerns regarding the issue of extra pay received by employees for the Saturday School Program, and the potential for duplicate salary payments approved by different funding sources. He noted that while the follow-up report dealt only with Weis Elementary School, the Committee believed that the potential for abuse of extra pay provisions existed on a district-wide basis. Mr. Adkins stated that the District did have policies designed to educate employees on the completion of time sheets in accordance with Florida Statutes and employees were notified regarding those administrative procedures. However, based on the findings at Weis Elementary School, the Committee felt that the internal controls could be insufficient to ensure compliance with those procedures on a district-wide basis. He stated that the extra pay issue had been added to the work plan to be reviewed district-wide. He advised that the Committee would continue to work with the Superintendent and the Internal Auditing Department to finalize the work plan and would report to the Board at the October Regular Workshop.
Due to time constraints, the following item was moved forward on the agenda:
Annual Agreement: Professional Services R & J Associates, Inc. (Item V.D.10)
(NOTE: This item was a request for approval, for the second year of a three-year annual agreement for consulting services to evaluate, assess the effectiveness and recommend changes to the magnet school program at Brentwood Elementary and Middle Schools.) Dr. DeWitt stated that he would not support approval of this item, as the contractor providing the consulting services had not fulfilled timelines specified in the agreement (during the first year of the three-year annual agreement). He noted that a report prepared by the contractor, which contained several mistakes, had been sent to Washington D.C., a month late and without review and/or approval by the Board.
The Board recognized Ms. Regina Lipnick, Magnet Coordinator for Brentwood Elementary, who explained that before Brentwood Elementary became a magnet school, there had been a drop in student attendance. She advised that since becoming a magnet school, the student attendance at Brentwood Elementary had increased and that there were now over 400 students on a waiting list. She believed that the expertise provided by this particular contractor, was one of the key factors in the growth and popularity of Brentwood Elementary. While she acknowledged that timelines specified in the agreement were not previously adhered to, she noted that reporting was only a minute part of the valuable assistance and expertise provided by the contractor. In response to concerns expressed, Mr. John Dombroskie, Senior Purchasing Agent, confirmed that the agreement did include a clause, which stated that final payment could withheld until all deliverable items have been submitted in a form satisfactory to the District."
V. CONSENT AGENDA
A. Curriculum and Instruction
10. The School District of Escambia County, Florida Elementary and Secondary Assessment and Remediation Plan]
(NOTE: This item was originally presented at the September 9, 2002 however, at the request of the Superintendent, it was deleted from the agenda.)
Upon inquiry by Ms. Finkelstein, Mr. Paul Fetsko, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, stated that this was a plan that was required by the State.
6. Financial Status Report on Projects and Grants as of August 31, 2002
This item was discussed earlier in the meeting.
C. Human Resources Services
Although not questioning this particular item, several Board Members posed questions and expressed concerns regarding out-of-field:
Ms. Finkelstein questioned whether an English certification (rather than a reading certification) was adequate for teaching a reading course at the high school level. Ms. Teenie Wehmeier, Certification Manager, stated that it would depend on the course. She noted that in some cases, English certification was appropriate and some cases reading certification was required.
Mrs. Stidham stated that a teacher had contacted her regarding concerns that there were several coaches teaching out-of-field. She explained that the teacher believed that several coaches were teaching out-of-field because the courses that they (the coaches) are certified in did not have openings, and therefore, other teachers (with the appropriate certification for the course) were bumped out so these (coaches) could take their places. Ms. Wehmeier acknowledged that there were several coaches teaching out-of-field and possibly there was an annual contract teacher that was not asked back, but normally there is more to it than that. Dr. DeWitt had heard similar concerns that several decisions were based on the principals idea that we need to keep the coach, so well get rid of the other teachers and he (the coach) can teach out-of-field because we cant get rid of a coach. Mr. Ross (representing Mr. Jim Paul) noted that concerns expressed (to Mrs. Stidham and Dr. DeWitt) could be just pure speculation. He advised that this issue was a school-based staffing decision and asked that the Board allow the principals to address why a particular decision was made.
[NOTE: The following comments refer to criticism (via public meetings and the media) from several members of the community, regarding the recruitment and hiring of minority employees.] Dr. Jenkins noted that in addition to concerns regarding the recruitment and hiring of minority employees, several members of the community had also raised concerns about how majority and minority teachers are handled when it comes to allowing them to teach out-of-field. Several members of the community believed that majority teachers were allowed to teach out-of-field with time to finish certification requirements, while minority teachers were rarely given that opportunity. Ms. Wehmeier stated that according to a recent study that she had conducted, there were 76 out-of-field teachers (district-wide) and twenty percent (20%) are minority. She did not believe that those number are that bad.
DeWitt, Gillis Bratt 07/30/02 (4th Year AC)
In response to several inquiries, Dr. DeWitt noted for the record, that he shared no relation to this individual.
2.Education Support Personnel
- Employee #8601-9620-181, School Bus Operator, Transportation Department, be suspended without pay for five (5) working days effective Wednesday, September 18, 2002, for misconduct.
In response to concerns expressed by Mrs. Stidham, Dr. Doug Garber, Director of Human Resource Services, stated that he would ask Mr. Shawn Dennis, Director of Transportation, to provide the Board with additional information regarding this item.
10. Annual Agreement: Professional Services R & J Associates, Inc.
This item was discussed earlier in the meeting.
15. Unauthorized Purchase of Books
Mr. Ross (representing Mr. Jim Paul) stated that Ms. Lesa Morgan, principal of West Florida High School of Advanced Technology, would provide an explanation to the Board regarding the unauthorized purchase of school agendas, prior to the September Regular Meeting.
18. Change Notice #5 to Purchase Order #234699 (A.E. New Jr., Inc.)
In response to concerns expressed by Dr. DeWitt, Mr. Ron Peacock, Director of Facilities Planning, agreed that this particular change notice was rather large in proportion to what we typically have. He explained that because there was quite a bit of money left in the budget, a change notice was now required to incorporate certain items that were originally requested, but not included because the architect over-estimated the bid. Mrs. Stidham questioned whether there was a way to include a penalty in the architects contract. She noted that because those certain items were not included in the original scope of the work, there could be a little bit more involved. She was concerned that it could have cost the District more money in the long run, then it would have if it was included in the original. Mr. Ted Kirchharr, Assistant Superintendent for Operations, questioned whether the Board would want to penalize an architect for designing a project, noting that from the architects perspective, he delivered significantly under the budget. Mr. Kirchharr noted that to see a change order of this magnitude because the project came in so much under budget, is a very isolated incident.
1. Facilities Planning
2. Crystal Ice House property acquisition
Mrs. Stidham stated that the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) for Facilities had concerns regarding the cost for maintaining and insuring the facility and questions regarding how the facility would be used. Mr. Ross (representing Mr. Jim Paul) stated that there were several possibilities that would need to be explored.
F. Student Transfers
No discussion was held.
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
a. Permission to Advertise
No items were submitted.
b. Permission to Adopt
No discussion was held.
B. Items from the Board
1. Update on Pre-K Coalition Issues John DeWitt
Dr. DeWitt gave a brief update on Pre-K Coalition Issues. He noted that were approximately 1,000 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 the District was only taking about half of what we had last year due to all the funding requirements and the need to charge $97.20. Upon inquiry by Dr. Jenkins, Mr. Wayne Odom, Director of Title I, explained that if a family qualifies for a subsidy (from the Coalition), then for a second child, the co-payment that the parent is required to pay is reduced to half. He noted that $97.20 figure was simply a school week (five days) times the daily reimbursement rate that the District would get for qualifying child. The state will pay the District $19.44 a day, for child qualifying for the subsidy. So when a parent is ineligible because their income exceeds the 150% of the federal poverty level or for some other reason, instead of just saying sorry so long, we say to them youre not eligible for the subsidy and we arent going to be reimbursed by the Coalition for your childs attendance therefore, if he remains it would cost you $97.20 a week. He noted that some parents are distressed because they see it as a public school program even though it is by Statute not, and shocked and disillusioned that they would have to send their child to a public school.
C. Items from the Superintendent
1. Administrative Guidelines for Acceptable Materials for Use in School Public Performances
No discussion was held.
D. Items from the General Counsel
No items were submitted
There being no further business, the Regular Workshop adjourned at 10:55 a.m.