ESCAMBIA COUNTY, FLORIDA
MINUTES, SEPTEMBER 17, 2002
The School Board of Escambia County, Florida, convened in a Special Workshop at 5:00 p.m., in Room 160, at the J.E. Hall Educational Services Center, 30 East Texar Drive, 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 Special Workshop to order at 5:00 p.m. He explained that this meeting had been scheduled in response to criticism (via public meetings and the media) from several members of the community, regarding the recruitment and hiring of minority employees.
II. DISCUSSION ON RECRUITMENT AND HIRING OF MINORITY EMPLOYEES
(Supplementary Minute Book, Exhibit A)
(NOTE: This issue was previously discussed at the September 17, 2002 Regular Workshop.) The Superintendent gave a brief update on the status of minority recruitment. He noted that the District had a higher percentage of minority (African-American) teachers than several of its peer districts do, but conceded that the number was still pitifully low. While he cited several reasons for the shortage of minority (African-American) teachers, he believed that the main reason was that the Districts pay was far lower than the State average. He stated that recruiting minority (African-American) teachers to the District was difficult, noting that other districts throughout the State could offer higher starting salaries. He noted that other districts were able to offer incentives for new recruits and believed that the District should develop incentives as well. He stated that he would develop an action plan regarding this issue and would present it to the Board at a future meeting.
Dr. Jenkins acknowledged that there was a problem with the recruitment and hiring of minority employees, but noted that the problem is universal. He suggested that a recruitment team be established, that would be representative of the District. He believed that the team should include both majority and minority teachers and administrators, and members of both Movement for Change (a local civil rights group) and the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). He agreed with the Superintendent, that it was difficult to recruit minority (African-American) teachers to the District because other districts throughout the State could offer higher starting salaries. He 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.
The Board recognized Benny Washington and LeRoy Boyd, who addressed various concerns regarding recruitment and hiring of minority employees.
The Special Workshop recessed at 5:45 p.m. [for a Special Meeting scheduled for 5:30 p.m.] and reconvened at 5:52 p.m., with all Board Members, Mr. Negron and the Superintendent present. Dr. DeWitt noted that the Regular Meeting was scheduled for 6:00 p.m., however, the consensus of the Board was to postpone the Regular Meeting until the conclusion of the Special Workshop.
The Board recognized Debra Thompson, who suggested that the District implement a dress code for teachers. (NOTE: This issue was not an agenda item.)
The Board recognized the following speakers who addressed various concerns regarding recruitment and hiring of minority employees: Jerry McIntosh, Khechara Nuriddin, Walter Gulley, Jr., and Belinda Donaldson.
The Board and Superintendent agreed to schedule a Special Meeting, to review and allow for community input, regarding the action plan (for recruitment and hiring of minority employees) that the Superintendent would develop. Mr. Bergosh stated that he would appreciate a presentation by Mr. Elvin McCorvey, Director of EEOC, (who was not present) at the Special Meeting, regarding this issue.
There being no further business, the Special Workshop adjourned at 6:20 p.m.