ESCAMBIA COUNTY, FLORIDA
MINUTES, JANUARY 13, 2003
The School Board of Escambia County, Florida, convened in Special Meeting at 11:00 a.m., in the Board Room, at the Dr. Vernon McDaniel Building, 215 West Garden Street, Pensacola, Florida, with the following present:
Chair: Ms. Linda Finkelstein
Vice Chair: Mr. Gary L. Bergosh
Board Members: Mrs. Cary Stidham
Mr. Ronnie L. Clark
Dr. John DeWitt
School Board Attorney: Mr. Francisco M. Negron, Jr.
Superintendent of Schools: Mr. Jim Paul
I. CALL TO ORDER
Ms. Finkelstein called the Special Meeting to order at 11:00 a.m.
II. ADOPTION OF AGENDA
On motion by Dr. DeWitt, seconded by Mr. Bergosh, adoption of the agenda was unanimously approved.
III. ITEMS FROM THE BOARD
(Supplementary Minute Book, Exhibit A)
1. Master Board Program
[NOTE: The following discussion refers to an invitation from the Florida School Board Association (FSBA), for the Board Members (and the Superintendent) to participate in the 2003 Master Board Program.] Motion was made by Dr. DeWitt, seconded by Mr. Clark, for the Board to participate in the 2003 Master Board Program. Mrs. Stidham noted that the Intent to Participate form (included in the backup documentation) indicated that a majority of the Board Members, as well as the Superintendent must participate in the Program. Upon inquiry by Mrs. Stidham, the Superintendent stated that he would be available to participate in the Program. Dr. DeWitt noted that the Intent to Participate form also indicated a choice of two sessions for the Program: April 14-15, 2003 and April 24-25, 2003. The Board collectively agreed to participate (if motion to participate was approved) in the April 14-15, 2003 training session and to change the date of the April Regular Meeting from April 15, 2003 to April 17, 2003. Motion was unanimously approved.
IV. ITEMS FROM THE SUPERINTENDENT
(Supplementary Minute Book, Exhibit B)
1. Flexibility Grant
The Superintendent noted that the District had been offered an opportunity to participate in the Flexibility Grant, which was only being offered to a select few school districts in the State. Mr. Paul Fetsko, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, gave a brief overview of the Flexibility Grant. He stated that should the State fail to meet requirements of No Child Left Behind legislation, the federal government could direct the State, to direct school districts on how certain funds (i.e., Title II, Part A; Title II, Part D; Title IV, Part A; and Title V, Part A) must be spent, in order to meet those requirements. He noted that by participating in this particular grant, the District would be given immunity from being directed by the State on how to spend such funds. He explained that participation in this grant, was basically a preventative at this point, noting that the flexibility would be available if needed. He noted that this grant would allow the District to take certain funds and consolidate them if needed, to meet the requirements of No Child Left Behind legislation. Upon inquiry by Mrs. Stidham, Mr. Fetsko stated that the amounts listed in the backup documentation indicated not how the District is proposing to spend the funds, but rather the current allocation of those funds (i.e. Title II, Part A; Title II, Part D; Title IV, Part A; and Title V, Part A). He stated that how the District may have to redirect those funds, is unclear at the moment, but the figures could be amended if the need arises. Upon inquiry by Mr. Bergosh, Mr. Fetsko stated that the only down side to participating in the Flexibility Grant was that it was actually of more benefit to the State, than to the District. Mr. Bergosh questioned, if we are not successful (with regard to No Child Left Behind) and we participate in this (Flexibility Grant), then can the federal government come in and tell us how to do it (how to spend certain funds)? Mr. Fetsko stated that the federal government could come in at any point, regardless of whether the District participates in this particular grant or not. Ms. Finkelstein questioned whether the State Flexibility Five-Year Performance Agreement (included in the backup documentation) had been submitted to Mr. Negron for review. Mr. Fetsko stated that to his knowledge, the Agreement had not been submitted to Mr. Negron for review, noting that it was a matter of timing, as the federal government requires the Agreement to be submitted to the State by January 17, 2003. Ms. Finkelstein stated that as with any agreement, she would be more comfortable if Mr. Negron had an opportunity to review it (the Agreement) before the Board made a decision.
The Board recognized Mr. Bob Husbands, Executive Director of Escambia NEA UniServe, who expressed his concerns with the No Child Left Behind legislation, noting that it has some pretty stringent opportunities for districts to move, relocate and/or hold staff. He noted that if necessary, he would notice the Board regarding any bargaining issues associated with this particular grant. Motion was made by Mr. Bergosh, seconded by Mrs. Stidham, to accept the Superintendents recommendation to submit an application for the Flexibility Grant. Mr. Bergosh questioned whether Mr. Negron should be allowed an opportunity to review the Agreement before the vote was taken. Motion was made by Mrs. Stidham, seconded by Mr. Clark, to table this item (Flexibility Grant) until reviewed by Mr. Negron. Motion to table was unanimously approved. [NOTE: The following discussion took place at the conclusion of discussion on Item IV.2, Teacher Academy at Woodham High School.) After his review of the Agreement, Mr. Negron noted several concerns regarding statutory references, exclusion of a penalty provision for early withdraw and possible bargaining impact. In response to concerns cited by Mr. Negron and Dr. DeWitt, Mr. Fetsko advised that the complete grant application, which had not been provided (as backup documentation), included a clause that allows the District the option to withdraw from Flexibility Grant participation. Motion to accept the Superintendents recommendation to submit an application for the Flexibility Grant. was approved unanimously.
2. Teacher Academy at Woodham High School
[NOTE: This issue was previously discussed at the December 12, 2002 Regular Workshop.] The following proposal was presented by the Superintendent (in the backup documentation) regarding a Teacher Academy at Woodham High School:
The tentative cost for implementation of the Teacher Academy at Woodham High School for the 2003-2004 school year will be broken down by teacher and transportation cost. The start up cost for the spring of 2003 will be $8,000 to pay for one long-term substitute to provide release time for Woodham staff to recruit and bring the program into fruition. The teacher cost for the 2003-2004 academic year will be $42,000 to pay for one teacher/coordinator to handle the operation and recruitment for the program as well as develop practicums for students and work with PJC and UWF. Transportation cost for the 2003-2004 school year will be approximately $385.71 per student per year. This is an estimate of the cost, Mr. Shawn Dennis, Director of Transportation will need additional time to fully develop the cost of trunk routing based on the number of students who participate in the program. Using this figure, 20 students participating in the program, the first year will cost 20 X $385.71 = $7,514.20.
Upon inquiry by Mrs. Stidham, Dr. Alan Scott, Director of Secondary Education, stated that the teacher/coordinator would have most of the teaching load the first year with one to two free periods to help coordinate some of the activities (of the Teacher Academy). He noted that if student participation in the Academy did increase, there may at that point, be a need for a dedicated coordinator (rather than teacher/coordinator). He noted however, that a portion of the funds that the Academy would bring back into the District could be used towards offsetting the cost of that individual (coordinator). Upon inquiry by Mr. Bergosh, Dr. Scott explained that the Academy would consist of three tracks: 1) the Academy program; 2) the Academy Honors program; and 3) the Associate of Arts (A.A.) program. Upon inquiry by Mr. Bergosh, Mr. Bill Slayton, principal of Woodham High School, stated that he had no speculations on how many students would participate the first year. He noted however, that his goal was to be in the schools before this month is over, hard recruiting for students who are showing an interest in the education area. Mrs. Stidham expressed her concern with transportation costs, noting that though we have tried to cut back (on transportation costs throughout the District), we keep turning around and adding something else that ends up bringing the cost back up. The Superintendent stated that there was no doubt that the Academy would be a cost for the District, but noted that there was possibilities that some rather large grants will be made available and we are in the process of pursuing that. Upon inquiry by Dr. DeWitt, Dr. Scott stated that he would not say that there is an artificial quota, but noted that we do not need to allow any magnet program (such as the Academy) to overdraw from any one attendance zone. He stated that he was very sensitive to schools that submit a very large number of students to any magnet program and would personally see to it that there is not a significant impact on any one school.
Dr. DeWitt noted that while the District should be sensitive to that issue, parental choice should be the primary factor. Upon inquiry by Dr. DeWitt, Mr. Slayton stated that he did not believe that there would be any problem meeting the guidelines for minority/majority ratios, but noted that he would work to be sensitive to that issue, but not in any way to exclude other students. Mr. Clark believed that the Academy was not only a great opportunity for students but also for the District, noting that we can home grown our own teachers, which he believed would be significant in that we can provide our own teacher shortages. Upon inquiry by Ms. Finkelstein, Mr. Shawn Dennis, Director of Transportation, noted that the disparity between regular routed transportation for students versus trunk routed transportation for students, was approximately $420 (regular) versus $385 (trunk) per student per year. Motion by Dr. DeWitt, seconded by Mr. Clark, to approve the Superintendents recommendation (as outlined in the proposal) for a Teacher Academy at Woodham High School, was unanimous.
(NOTE: Following the conclusion of discussion on this item, Teacher Academy at Woodham High School, the Board returned to Item IV.1 Flexibility Grant, for further discussion.]
3. Administrative Appointment
The Superintendent presented the following recommendation to the Board, for Administrative Appointment:
NAME FROM TO DATE
Donna Grantham Assistant Elem Principal/Hol Principal/Holm 01/07/03
Motion was made by Dr. DeWitt, seconded by Mrs. Stidham, to approve the Superintendents recommendation for the Administrative Appointment of Donna Grantham, from Assistant Principal/Holm Elementary School, to Principal/Holm Elementary School, effective January 7, 2003. Mr. Clark stated that he had heard from many constituents regarding this item. He noted that while they were not against the appointment of Mrs. Grantham as principal of Holm Elementary School, they were concerned with the process used for appointing principals. He stated that many constituents believed that there appeared to be a pattern regarding the appointment of principals, noting that when there was an opportunity for progression from an assistant principal to a principal rank, in positions where African-American individuals sat as assistant principal, there were other people who were brought in and put in those positions. He cited several instances where the assistant principal was passed over, for appointment as principal. He noted that with this particular item, the table is turned and there is promotion that is being passed forward from the assistant principal position (to the principal position). In response to concerns expressed by Mr. Clark, the Superintendent stated that while he realized that there may appear to be some sort of adverse pattern, there was not. He noted that while he would talk about why a person was chosen, he could not talk about why a person was not chosen, noting that to do so, he would have to reveal weaknesses with regard to a particular individual. He also noted that when several assistant principal positions became available, several African-American individuals had been moved into the pipeline. He advised that many administrative positions (school based and non-school based) would soon become vacant (and therefore, need to be filled) due to upcoming retirements, which would open up a whole host of opportunities for progression, and provide a grand opportunity to see a more diverse administrative staff. He reiterated that while it may appear to be a pattern to some, I can only say that in my mind it is not.
The Board recognized Mr. LeRoy Boyd, who expressed various concerns regarding the issue of administrative appointments.
At the request of Ms. Finkelstein, Mr. Negron advised: By law, the Superintendent is charged with the authority to make recommendations for personnel. The Board cannot modify those recommendations, for it (Board) only has the right to accept or reject those recommendations. However, the Board can reject recommendations for appointment by the Superintendent, if it (Board) has good cause, which means for instance, that the person is not qualified to hold the position. Motion was approved 4 to 1, with Mr. Clark voting No. Mr. Clark noted that he had registered a no vote as a matter of principal, and not against the appointment of Mrs. Grantham as principal. He believed that Mrs. Grantham was the person for that position and will do an excellent job. At the request of the Superintendent, Ms. Grantham came forward to be recognized by the Board.
There being no further business, the Special Meeting adjourned at 12:23 p.m.