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:


Chair:  Ms. Linda Finkelstein     

Vice Chair:  Mrs. Cary Stidham   


Board Members:   Mrs. Carissa Bergosh

Mr. Ronnie L. Clark

Dr. John DeWitt


School Board Attorney:  Mr. Francisco M. Negron, Jr.


Superintendent of Schools:   Mr. Jim Paul 





Ms. Finkelstein called the Regular Workshop to order at 9:00 a.m.


A. Open Discussion

1. Grading Criteria/Proposals for Students Performing Below Grade Level


[NOTE: This following discussion refers to the issue of an “elementary grading policy” which was previously discussed at the January 17, 2003 Regular WorkshopAt that time, it was the consensus of the Board, for elementary schools to continue with their current site-based grading policy for the remainder of the school year and for a district-wide policy to be developed in preparation for the next school year.]  Upon inquiry by Mrs. Stidham, Dr. Deborah Malishan, Director of Elementary Education, gave a brief update on the development of a district-wide “elementary grading policy.”  She stated that the Grading Committee that was originally established to review this issue, would need to continue discussions regarding the concerns expressed by the Board at the September 9, 2002 Special Meeting, when the initial district-wide “elementary grading policy” was presented.  She hoped to update the Board on Committee discussions at the April Regular Workshop and noted that the Committee desired to have “some resolution” by the beginning of the next school year.  Ms. Finkelstein advised Dr. Malishan that the issue of a district-wide “elementary grading policy” could be added as an item on an upcoming Special Meeting agenda, to allow for input from the Board.


2.  Citizens Advisory Committee Assignments


Ms. Finkelstein noted that as Chair, it was her responsibility to make assignments to the Citizens Advisory Committees (CAC) and questioned whether any Board Member was interested in being appointed to a CAC other than the one on which they were currently serving.  There being no requests for reassignments, Ms. Finkelstein stated that current CAC assignments would remain as is. 


Although not agenda items, the following issues were discussed:

Plans for Molino/Barrineau Park School

 Ms. Finkelstein requested that an item entitled “Plans for Molino/Barrineau Park School” be added to February 26, 2003 Special Meeting agenda, for a decision on whether the school would be designated as a K-5 or K-8.  She asked that each Board Member review the information provided by Mr. Ireland Brock, Director of Pupil Instructional Services, regarding the criteria for each designation, prior to the Special Meeting.


Concept of Zero-Based Budgeting/Concept of Site-Based Budgeting

Dr. DeWitt questioned whether the Board would be interested in pursuing the implementation of a ‘zero-based’ budgeting concept, noting that it was the “perfect time to begin implementation since the Board is currently working on both the strategic plan and the budget.”  He noted that the concept of ‘zero-based’ budgeting basically indicates that there should be a direct relationship between the strategic plan and the budget.  He stated that he could arrange for a presentation on the concept, by representatives of the University of West Florida.  The Superintendent stated that he “would have two questions” regarding the concept of ‘zero-based’ budgeting: Is it right for us? And if it were right, is it possible to do this year?”  Mrs. Barbara Linker, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Business Affairs, stated that while she was “open to hearing” the presentation, she believed it was “too late in the process” for the 2003-2004 budget year but could be considered for the 2004-2005 budget year.  Ms. Finkelstein stated that in addition to a presentation regarding the concept of ‘zero-based’ budgeting, she would also like a presentation on the concept of ‘site-based’ budgeting.  She believed that ‘site-based’ budgeting would provide for “accountability from schools.”  Upon consensus of the Board, Dr. DeWitt and Ms. Finkelstein stated that they would arrange for presentations regarding the concepts of ‘zero-based’ and ‘site-based’ budgeting at a future meeting.


Early Childhood Summer School at Century Elementary School

(NOTE: The issue of “elementary summer school” was previously discussed at the January 17, 2003 Regular Workshop.)  Dr. DeWitt questioned whether any consideration had been given to offering, during the upcoming summer, a early childhood summer school program at Century Elementary School, for the purpose of preparing Century students to enter school with a higher level of readiness to learn.  He noted that “findings” had shown a severe deficit in the area of language development of students entering Century Elementary.  Dr. Deborah Malishan, Director of Elementary Education, stated that discussions had only addressed an “elementary summer school” program for selected elementary students who continue to exhibit substantial reading and math deficiencies, with a focus on third grade students who fall under the third grade mandatory retention legislation (third grade students not scoring at level two or above on the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test (FCAT) which would be administered in March).  Mr. Paul Fetsko, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, while not in disagreement as to the need for such a program, stated that the District did not have “the funds at this moment to do it, if it does not come through an outside source.”  He explained that funding from the Escambia County School Readiness Coalition or Title I could be used for such a program, however, funds from Title I had already been expended.  He stated that it might be possible to obtain an agreement from the Coalition to fund such a program.  Dr. DeWitt, who serves as the Board’s representative on the Coalition, stated that an agreement with the Coalition to fund such a program was a “possibility.” 


Flexibility Grant

(NOTE:  Motion to accept the Superintendent’s recommendation to submit an application for the “Flexibility Grant,” was approved at the January 13, 2003 Special Meeting.)  Upon inquiry by Dr. DeWitt, Mr. Paul Fetsko, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, stated that the District had submitted an application for the “Flexibility Grant” to the State and the State would now need to submit the application to the federal government for approval.


Policy Requiring the Involvement of the Purchasing Department throughout the Technology Procurement Process

 Mrs. Stidham noted that the update from the Audit Committee at the January 17, 2003 Regular Workshop, indicated the need for a policy to amplify the requirement of schools and offices purchasing Information Technology Resources to involve the Purchasing Department throughout the procurement process.  Upon inquiry by Mrs. Stidham, the Superintendent stated that he would present a policy recommendation regarding that issue at the March Regular Meeting.


Escambia High School Principal


(NOTE: The following discussion refers to a motion approved at the October 3, 2002 Special Meeting, to accept the Superintendent’s recommendation for the Administrative Appointment of Carl Leiterman, from Applied Technology Specialist, to Principal/Escambia High School, effective September 27, 2002.)  Mrs. Stidham noted that she continued to be questioned by the public regarding the credentials of Mr. Carl Leiterman, principal of Escambia High School.  She stated that she was “not saying that the person (Mr. Leiterman) is not qualified,” however, she “would like the issue of his credentials cleared for the record.”  Dr. Doug Garber, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resource Services, advised that Mr. Leiterman did meet all requirements in accordance with Board policy and the Board approved Human Resources Management Development (HRMD) Plan and stated that he would provide the Board with documentation verifying those credentials.  


Strategic Plan

Ms. Finkelstein stated that the Board had received a memorandum from Mrs. Sheree’ Cagle, Director of Comprehensive Planning, requesting “feedback” regarding the strategic plan.  Ms. Finkelstein asked that Board Members review the memorandum and then forward any “feedback” to Mrs. Cagle so that “she may forward with this project.”




The Superintendent listed the additions, deletions, amendments and corrections to the agenda. 


Due to time constraints, the following issue was moved forward on the agenda:


Notice of Intent to Adopt Amendment to School District Rule 6Gx17 – 7.02 – Student Dress (Item VII.A.b.1)

(NOTE: The issue of “student dress” was previously discussed at the January 21, 2003 Regular Meeting.)  The Superintendent stated that he had commissioned two committees to review the issue of student dress and to assist in the drafting of district-level dress codes: one that would focus on elementary schools and another that would focus on middle and high schools (secondary).  He stated that he would present a recommendation regarding district-level dress codes at the April Regular Meeting.  He requested that each Board Member submit one nominee for each committee (elementary and secondary).


Although not an agenda item, the following issue was discussed:


Proposed Additions or Revisions to School District Rules

Ms. Finkelstein and Dr. DeWitt both expressed a desire to move the section “Proposed Additions or Revisions to School District Rules” (currently under “New Business”) forward on Regular Meeting agendas, as the first item after “Adoption of the Agenda.”  They believed that doing so, would prevent individuals wishing to speak during public hearings on proposed rules, from having to wait until the end of the agenda to speak.  Mr. Negron believed that was a good idea and advised that the Board that they would need to officially amend their agenda proceedings noting that they already had an approved order of business. 




Minutes for all January meetings will be presented for approval.



1.  Update on Superintendent’s Council for Teacher Recruitment and Retention


At the request of the Superintendent, Mr. Roger Goldberg, member of both the Community Task Force on Diversity and the Superintendent’s Council for Teacher Recruitment and Retention, gave a brief update on the Superintendent’s Council on Recruitment and Retention.  He stated that at their last two meetings, the Council had began a review of the recommendations made by the Task Force on Diversity (at the December 17, 2002 Regular Meeting).  He provided the Board with a handout outlining the recommendations made by the Task Force and the Council’s response as to the status of each recommendation.  He stated that the Council had found that many of the recommendations made by the Task Force were in fact, processes already in use within the District, which may just need “some fine tuning in order to be more responsive to the problems that have been identified.”  He stated that the Council would continue the process of reviewing those recommendations at their next meeting. 


Due to time constraints, the following items were moved forward on the agenda:


Notice of Intent to Advertise the Name of the New K-8 Elementary School in Molino “Dogwood Elementary” (Item VII.A.a.3)


Mr. Dale Cooey, principal of Barrineau Park Elementary and Molino Elementary, gave a brief review of the process and timeline used in selecting a name for the new K-8 elementary school in Molino.  He stated that on October 21, 2002, flyers were placed in community meeting places and businesses, notifying the community that all stakeholders could submit names for the new K-8 school during the week of October 28, 2002 through November 1, 2002.  The joint School Advisory Councils from Barrineau Park Elementary and Molino Elementary and staffs from both schools met to reduce the list of names from 89 to 3 (Dogwood Elementary; Molino Park Elementary; and Countryside Elementary).  On November 13, 2002, students and staffs from both schools selected “Dogwood Elementary” as the name of the new K-8 school in Molino, Florida.



Evaluation of Curricula Tools – Cary Stidham (Item VII.B.1)


      (NOTE: The following discussion refers to an incident that occurred in November 2002, whereas a decision by the Superintendent and his staff halted a Ransom Middle School seventh-grade class reading project, involving the racially charged Mark Twain classic, “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” due to a parent complaint.)  Mrs. Stidham noted that there was a policy included in the Educational Media Services Handbook that addressed school media materials and those materials which are not textbooks, but rather “supplements” for use in the classroom.  (NOTE: Since “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” was not included on the State-adopted textbook list, it would fall under the category of being a “supplementary material.”)  She stated that the policy also included guidelines for “challenged materials,” specifically outlining a procedure whereby an individual (i.e., parent, community member) could register concerns about specific curriculum.  Those concerns would then be examined by a committee made up of professional educators, to determine the appropriateness of the “challenged materials.”  She noted that if followed, the procedure as outlined, would “remove the ability of one individual (i.e., parent, community member) to drive the curriculum for an entire school district.”  Mrs. Stidham stated that she was aware that the teacher involved in this particular incident had failed to ask the principal’s permission before beginning the reading project, however, she was concerned that the project was halted without following the “challenged materials” process.  Ms. Paula Gleason, Media Services Coordinator, explained that there was a process that should have been followed, as far as initial evaluation of those materials before they were used in the classroom.  She noted that there should have been a documented evaluation form, “signed off” by the principal, indicating awareness that those materials were being used in the classroom.  She stated that “this was the beginning of the problem, as that was not done.” Mrs. Stidham questioned whether the thought was that since the initial evaluation of those materials did not occur, then that would mean that the District did not have to follow the remainder of the policy regarding “challenged materials” before halting the reading project.  Mrs. Gleason explained that “under ordinary circumstances, when there has been a challenge, there would have been a material that had been evaluated and selected.”  She noted that “in this particular case that had not occurred and so we would not have been defending a material that had been evaluated, selected and approved in that school.”  Mrs. Stidham noted that the teacher involved in this particular incident, was concerned that she had not been given the opportunity to give her side of the story.  Mrs. Stidham provided the Board and Superintendent with a copy of a letter written by the teacher which she also read aloud:  “On November 26, 2002, I was informed that the novel, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” could no longer be read in my classroom due to a parent’s complaint.  I understand that there can be differing opinions on what constitutes appropriate reading material for grade levels, however, I was shocked that a classic American novel would be disallowed.  I realize that there is controversy in the novel, but there is controversy in every great work of literature. If we as educators and parents, refuse to teach our children about our history then we have failed to empower them by letting them know how much our society has changed.  If we allow limits on teachers’ abilities to teach, then we undermine every student’s education.  No one from the District office ever spoke to me prior to make the decision to pull the novel in November or before speaking to the media in January.  As a matter of fact, no one from the District even took the time to inform me that the news media was investigating or reporting on the decisionI heard later that a reporter received an anonymous email but I have never been shown a copy of that mail.  Not only was I told nothing officially, I have heard different and conflicting versions of district policy through the grapevine.  I was deeply offended by the actions and words of non-support from the Superintendent and his staff.  There was never a classroom incident as implied by comments made by school district employees.  This implication was offensive, as it implied that a student or students, behaved hatefully towards a fellow classmate.  The spokespersons also failed to mention that permission slips were sent home with students, two weeks prior to beginning the novel.  The entire episode has been demoralizing and humiliating.  It would be nice to be able to feel that every employee of the District is working together towards a common goal of educating children.  Instead, it seems as though decision makers are now scrambling to defend a decision and yet their handling of this decision with a single-minded emphasis on proving themselves right regardless on the impact of others.   The Superintendent responded to the letter by noting that “many of the things brought about in the letter are just categorically either not true, or driven by an awful lot of emotion.”  Upon inquiry by Mrs. Stidham, the Superintendent stated that he did not believe that the current policy needed to be refined.  He believed that the policy was “crystal clear,” in that teachers had the right to use books of their choice, including “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” as long as their principal agreed.  He noted that in this particular incident, “the process to get there was not followed,” in that the teacher had not completed an evaluation form or asked for the principal’s permission before assigning the book in the first place.  Therefore, there was no need to follow the rest of the process that calls for a committee to review complaints and determine their merit. 

Ms. Marge Edwards, Language Arts Specialist, stated that she was in the process of forming a committee to draft an updated list of books that teachers can use, in addition to State adopted textbooks.  She noted that teachers would still have the option to use books that did not appear on the list, as long as the selections were evaluated and approved by the principal.  She believed that such as list might help to prevent an incident such as this particular one, from ever happening again.  She stated that she hoped to have the list in place by the end of April 2003.  



A.  Curriculum and Instruction

B.  Finance

8.  Budget Amendments

a)  Resolution 4: General Operating Fund


(NOTE: The following discussion refers to amendment (h) to the General Operating Fund.)  In response to the questions raised by several Board Members, Mrs. Laura Shaud, Director of Budgeting, gave a briefly explained the budget amendment requested to amend revenue and appropriations based on the Department of Education (DOE) 2002-2003 third FEFP calculation.  She noted that the amendment, in the amount of $2,581,361 represented the net decrease in FEFP funding.  She explained that a majority of the decrease (a total of $2,730,500) was applied to various FTE reserve categories, with the remaining FTE reserve of $148,546 and the $593 increase in Safe Schools transferred to unrestricted reserves.  The third FEFP calculation does include an increase in the Required Local Effort of $290,360.  At the request of several Board Members, Ms. Shaud stated that she would provide a more detailed explanation regarding this item, prior to the February 18, 2003 Regular Meeting. 


C.  Human Resources Services

5.   Employee Services

a.  Educational Equity Act Annual Update    


Mr. Elvin McCorvey, Coordinator – EEOC, advised that the Educational Equity Act Annual Update was normally submitted to the Board each year during the month of June, and following  Board approval, was then submitted to the State.  He noted that for the last three years, the Update had contained several incomplete items and that “last year the State told us not to submit the report again, until those items were complete.”  He explained that because those items were still incomplete, the report was not submitted to the Board during June 2002.  He advised however, that the State was now requesting that the District submit the report.  Mr. McCorvey explained that several of the incomplete items were simply due to the absence of “written policy” to address specific issues.  Dr. DeWitt questioned why those incomplete items had not been completed.  Mr. McCorvey stated that it was simply because the “people (Department Heads) responsible for those (items),” had not taken the necessary actions to complete those items.   Upon inquiry by Dr. DeWitt, Mr. Negron stated that Mr. McCorvey had provided him with a copy of the Update for review of several specific areas and explained that he would “like some time to give you (Board) my full response.”  The Superintendent stated that the item would be deleted from the agenda.


D.  Purchasing 

8.  Fluke Networks Professional Switch Vision Suite


Mr. Bill Bush, Director of Management Information Systems (MIS), explained that this “suite” would allow for “monitoring of the District Wide Area Network (WAN).”  He noted that it was “for the health of the entire District and how we communicate with schools.”  He explained that the “suite” would allow for the District to become more “proactive” by allowing staff to “actually see things before they go wrong.”


16.   Cafeteria Management and Accountability Software/Hardware


Mrs. Stidham noted that there was no contract included in the backup documentation for this item.  Upon inquiry by Mrs. Stidham, Mr. John Dombroskie, Director of Purchasing and Business Affairs, stated that the contract for this item had been submitted to Mr. Negron on February 6, 2003 for review.  (NOTE: The contract was submitted to Mr. Negron’s office after the agenda deadline for the February Regular Meeting.)  Mr. Dombroskie stated that there was a strict timeline for the project, as implementation needed to occur before the start of school in August 2003.  Mr. Negron stated that he was “only halfway through with review of the rather lengthy contract.”  He noted that this particular contract was not a “standard agreement” as it contained many items that he believed to be “one-sided” on the part of the company.  He stated that a complete review of the contract “could take some time.”  Mrs. Stidham questioned whether the item should be deleted from the agenda and added to the February 26, 2003 Special Meeting agenda.  Upon inquiry by Dr. DeWitt, Mr. Ted Kirchharr, Assistant Superintendent for Operations, stated that “reserve” funds from last year’s Food Service Fund and funds from the expected “reserve” for this year would be “more than sufficient to cover this purchase.”  Upon inquiry by Dr. DeWitt, Mr. Dombroskie stated that the method of procurement was quotation and negotiation, not bids.  He stated that a “group” interviewed and received presentations from three vendors and although this particular option was not the lowest priced, it did have greater “functionality.”


18. Change Notice #1 to Purchase Order #240608 (Aon Consulting Co.)           


(NOTE: This item was a request for Board authorization to issue Change Notice #1 to Purchase Order #240608, increasing the contract amount by $25,000, resulting in a new total expenditure of $75,000,to cover additional needs for consultant services for employee benefits.) 


Mrs. Stidham noted that historically, the District “had always budgeted $75,000” for consultant services for employee benefits and questioned why this fiscal year was “only budgeted for $50,000.”  She believed that if the services were budgeted for $50,000, then “that is what we should be spending.”  Dr. DeWitt also had concerns with “changing a contract by that much,” noting that he did not understand “how could we miss something by $25,000.”  Upon inquiry by Mrs. Stidham, Mr. Joe Bernard, Director of Risk Management, stated that the District was not receiving any “extra services,” but rather the exact same services that were received last year.  In response to the concerns expressed, Mrs. Barbara Linker, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Business Affairs, stated that she would research this particular item, to “see how much was actually budgeted for this year.”  She believed that the purchase order or the requisition for these services may have been issued for the wrong amount, but noted that “there would be no reason to believe that you would spend less this year, than you spent last year.”

34.   Change Notice #1 to Purchase Order #241568 (MEP Engineering Solutions, Inc.)


(NOTE: This item was a request for Board authorization to issue Change Notice #1 to Purchase Order #241568 to increase contract amount by $25,566.00 for professional engineering services.)  Upon inquiry by Dr. DeWitt, Mr. Ron Peacock, Director of Facilities Planning, explained that this particular contract with MEP Engineering Solutions, Inc., was for the Pine Forest High School Handling Unit Replacement.

E. Operations


No discussion was held.


F.  Student Transfers


No discussion was held.


G.  Internal Auditing

No items were submitted. 




No items were submitted.



A.   Proposed Additions of Revisions to School District Rules

a.  Permission to Advertise

3.   Notice of Intent to Advertise the Name of the New K-8 Elementary School in Molino “Dogwood Elementary”


This issue was discussed earlier in the meeting.


b. Permission to Adopt

1.   Notice of Intent to Adopt Amendment to School District Rule 6Gx17 – 7.02 – Student Dress


This issue was discussed earlier in the meeting.


B.  Items from the Board

1.  Evaluation of Curricula Tools – Cary Stidham


This issue was discussed earlier in the meeting. 

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 12:04 p.m.





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