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School board recap – April 2017

The full April 20, 2017 school board meeting was recorded via Facebook Live – watch the recording here. (The budget discussion begins at around 2:41 into the video.)

The April 20, 2017 regularly scheduled school board meeting began with a number of recognitions and presentations detailed here. Principal Uras Agee of Brainerd High School then gave an iZone update. He reviewed the Explorers program for early college and career skills building. Another career exploration program at Brainerd High is Go Build TN, which educates students on career opportunities and income potential for construction related jobs. Agee reviewed their continuous school improvement plan.

Public comment followed from several delegations:

1. Future Ready Librarians – Debbie Condry, Cristol Kapp, and Ann Rox presented on the work local librarians are doing around digital literacy.
2. Dan Liner from HCEA – He recognized teachers present at the meeting who support increased funding. “The status quo funding is simply not sufficient,” he stated. His call for increased funding focused on key areas of the requested additions: literacy coaches and materials and technology.
3. Representative of HC Principals Assoc. – The Association met recently seeking to identify three areas from which HCDE’s increased funds could be cut. He reports that the principals were not able to find one area they agreed could afford to be cut from the request. Top priorities for increase from principals’ perspective are technology, teacher pay, facility upgrades, professional development, ELL population support, and educating parents to best support kids.
4. Tyrese Jones, CCA student, spoke about the scholarship he has received and great education he’s benefitted from, but wanted to remind the board that not every student in the county has equitable access to the same quality of education that he has received. He called for an increase in funds to support all students in our community equitably.
5. Sara Boyd, another CCA student, spoke passionately about specific stories illustrating underfunding, including her English teacher having spent $1,000 of her personal money on classroom materials since August, as the school system only provides $100 per teacher, per year for supplies. “The stakes are too high for the budget to be this low,” she said. She also called for the board to approve increased funding.
6. Catherine Melissa – Local parent called for the board and county to prioritize education funding and asked for multi-year budget.

The March 16 meeting minutes were approved, as was the consent agenda.

As the board prepared to vote for the 2018 budget proposed by Dr. Kelly at the previous week’s finance committee meeting, board member Joe Smith offered comment on the requested budget increase of $33.5 million. He said he is “convinced increased funding is necessary,” and he called the list of programs those funds would support a needs list, not a wish list.

He motioned to table the vote to allow Dr. Kelly and his staff to return with a balanced budget and an addendum with the list of needed additions in prioritized tiers. Joe Wingate seconded the motion.

Board member Karitsa Jones said, “We’re not talking about boxes of product. We’re talking about lives. If we don’t start investing in them now, we’re going to lose a generation. I’m not voting to table this because I live in a district with kids who need everything on this list and more.”

Board Chairman Steve Highlander summarized, “We don’t have drastic wants, we have drastic needs.” He touched on lack of supplies funds, talented teachers leaving, priority schools “to deal with”, lack of workforce readiness.

Yes votes to table were cast by board members Robinson, Smith, Thurmond, Wingate, Highlander. The vote will resume at a special session next Thursday, April 27 at 5:00 p.m.

The meeting concluded with the board approving the board meeting schedule for 2017-18 (proposed by Dr. Kelly), approving a series of contracts amendments, and approving a community schools pilot program.

Digging in to HCDE’s Proposed Budget Increase

Understanding the schools’ request

Hamilton County Department of Education (HCDE) presented a general operating budget for the 2017-18 school year to the Board of Education finance committee last Thursday that totaled $397 million, a $33.5 million increase over the current year’s budget.

“Download full details” sample document for each focus area

Let’s dig into how the requested additional funds would be spent if granted. The requests are organized by HCDE’s six areas of strategic focus.

Each section has a link to documents issued by HCDE with more details like:

  • Why these investments?
  • Details on each request
  • Expected outcomes
  • What if these needs are NOT funded?

Strong Foundations: Literacy and Math

Total requested increase: $1,600,000

Additional funds request at a glance:

  • Added literacy support for priority and on-the-cusp schools ($900,000)
  • Expanding innovative and effective math instruction ($100,000)
  • Supporting schools with literacy materials ($500,000)
  • Kindergarten readiness support ($52,000)

See full details >

Engage Every Child. Every Day.

Total requested increase: $8,700,000

Additional funds request at a glance:

  • School technology upgrades and support ($7,600,000)
  • Robotics program continuation and expansion ($63,200)
  • Hands-on science and art pilots ($250,000)
  • Art and eLab teachers ($780,000)

See full details >

Future Ready: Prepare All Students for College & Career

Total requested increase: $1,900,000

Additional funds request at a glance:

  • Core funding for the new Chattanooga Polytechnic Academy ($586,000)
  • Expanding post-graduation options for high school students, including work-based learning and technical credentials for high-demand jobs ($1,300,000)

See full details >

Closing the Opportunity Gap

Total requested increase: $4,000,000

Additional funds request at a glance:

  • Support for our growing English Language Learner population ($677,000)
  • Strategic and differentiated support for priority and cusp schools ($1,500,000)
  • Additional support for student health services ($289,000)
  • Increased supports for students with special needs ($964,000)
  • Charter school enrollment increases ($474,000)
  • Replicate Graduate on Point program at additional schools ($150,000)

See full details >

Great Teachers, Great Leaders

Total requested increase: $14,500,000

Additional funds request at a glance:

  • Cost of living adjustment and step pay increase for all educators ($11,000,000)
  • Strengthening our pipeline to ensure a great leader in every school ($417,000)
  • Additional teaching positions for projected enrollment increases ($1,500,000)
  • Professional learning to support beginning teachers ($1,400,000)
  • Increase capacity to recruit and train top talent ($148,000)

See full details >

Building Our Values: Culture, Climate, and Communication

Total requested increase: $2,800,000

Additional funds request at a glance:

  • School-based telephone support for communication and safety ($500,000)
  • Increase in block grants to allow more site-based decisions ($1,000,000)
  • Increases in custodial and transportation services ($1,300,000)

See full details >

UnifiEd’s take

The requested increase in funds has been tied to expected student outcomes, a first for HCDE and a step UnifiEd has called for as part of the Pact for Public Education. We are very pleased at this big step toward the goal and hope HCDE administration will expand on this approach by tying the full budget to outcomes in the future.

The Pact also calls for a multi-year operating budget. Dr. Kirk Kelly, interim superintendent, told the Board at the April 13 finance committee meeting that he would be presenting a multi-year budget “soon.” We commend the commitment to this Pact goal and look forward to seeing it presented!

Still unaddressed is a long-term plan for building and expanding schools, as well as addressing the massive backlog of maintenance issues. UnifiEd calls for HCDE and the county to work together to create and fund a multi-year capital plan that creates efficiencies and opportunities for equitable access to quality education for every student in Hamilton County.

Take action!

Our school funding campaign hub gives you all the tools to take action in support of increased funding for our schools.

  • “Find your elected officials” feature: Select your neighborhood to see who your school board member, county commissioner, and county mayor are, plus their contact info.
  • Tools to contact your county officials: Download a letter to sign and mail, get a phone script for making a call, or get suggested text for an email.

Visit the campaign hub now >

Finally, turn out to support school funding! The school board will vote on HCDE’s proposed budget on Thursday, April 20 at 5:30 p.m. Whether you support HCDE’s proposed budget specifically, or more funding for our schools in general, be there to show the school board that our community values investment in education!

UnifiEd will be there with pizzas and posters to help you share your voice – let’s fund Hamilton County’s future! Board meeting info >

School Board Watch Blog – April 20

In this edition of UnifiEd’s School Board Watch Blog, we will take a look at the agenda for the April 20th regularly scheduled session of the Hamilton County School Board Meeting. The meeting will be held in the Hamilton County School Board Meeting Room at 3074 Hickory Valley Road and is set to begin at 5:30 PM. We will live tweet @UnifiEdHC, follow along at #HCSchools.

To see the entire agenda with supporting documents click here.

Hot Topics:

  • Turn Out for More School Funding! Join UnifiEd at 5:00pm before the school board meeting to support our schools in making more funding for education a priority. We will have posters available! 
  • Board approval is recommended for the FY 2018 Budget presentation to the County Commission. The proposed budget is as follows:     
    • General Purpose School Fund totaling $396,747,961.00
    • Federal Projects Fund totaling $26,109,427.00
    • Food Service Fund totaling $20,954,014.00
    • Self-funded Projects Fund totaling $6,039,657.00

Recognitions and Presentations:

  • David Cowan, Director of Career and Technical Education, is recognizing East Hamilton High School’s Virtual Enterprises International Program for receiving first and second place at the Midwest Regional Trade Fair Business Plan Competition..
  • Lakesha Carson, the Principal of East Lake Academy, and Jill Levine will recognize Erin Glenn, eighth grade American History teacher, as the winner of the Tennessee Council for the Social Studies Middle School Teacher of the Year Award.
  • The music teachers of Hamilton County schools will recognize the students from various programs who have achieved the title of Tennessee All-State Musician.
  • Jill Levine will announce Shellie Gibson from Smith Elementary, Kristin Burrus from CSAS, and Jessica Hubbuch from Howard High School, as Teachers of the Year. Ms. Burrus has been chosen as the Southeast Regional Middle School Tennessee Teacher of the Year.
  • HCDE is recognizing two educators, Erin Glenn from East Lake Academy and Kay Goodgame from Signal Mountain Middle/High, who have have recently achieved National Board Certification (NBC).
  • The Principal at Brainerd High School will give an iZone update to the school board.  

Field Trips

  • Soddy Daisy High School, Brainerd High School, the Howard School, Red Bank Middle School, Sale Creek Middle High School, CSLA, CCA, CSAS Upper, and Signal Mountain Middle High will send students to participate in competitions or tournaments.
  • CCA, CSAS Lower, Hixson High School, Hixson Middle, the Howard School, and Normal Park will send students to attend camps.
  • CSAS Upper will send students to visit the capitol at Washington, D.C.
  • CSLA will host a lock in on campus that will serve as an auction fundraiser.
  • Signal Mountain Middle High School and East Hamilton School will participate in music related field trips.
  • STEM School will travel to Boston to attend the 2017 MIT Eureka Fest.
  • Signal Mountain Middle High School will send students to travel to Germany to complete a cultural comparison project with the German-American Partnership program.

Bids and Contracts:

  • Board approval is requested for contract extensions for several maintenance projects. The board had previously awarded contracts for these described goods and services and right was reserved to extend the contracts for an additional twelve-month period. Funding Source: Operating/Maintenance and Capital Projects Budgets:
    • Contracts to Service Fire Extinguishers & Kitchen Hood Suppression Systems, Asbestos Abatement for School System, Air monitoring Services for Asbestos Projects, Furnish Labor & Materials for Electrical Projects, Annual Elevator Inspection, Repair & Preventative Maintenance Program, Furnish & Install VCT & Rubber Base, Furnish Heating Fuel, Furnish & Install Aluminum Walkway Covers & Canopies, Relocate Portable Classrooms, and Routine Roof Repairs & Replacement
  • Recommended approval is sought for:
    • A Request for Proposal to provide a Drug & Alcohol Testing program.
    • Contracts to furnish library books and Processing & Card Catalog Kits.
    • Purchase of air cooled chiller for Battle Academy, Brown Middle, and Woodmore Elementary.
    • HVAC Control Upgrades for Spring Creek Elementary School totalling $201,000.00 to Electronic Controls, Inc. with funds provided by 2016/17 Capital Projects Fund.
    • Bid renewals for the School Nutrition Program 2017-18.
    • School Annual Publishers for 2017-18.
    • Purchase of new vehicles totalling $193,313.95 with the funding from Maintenance General Funds.
    • Contract with Zonar Systems, Inc. for 69 GPS Tracking Systems to be installed in owner operated buses totalling $22, 083.41 from the Transportation budget. This will provide data on the path, speed, and location of these buses.  
    • Purchase of 75 Motorola Radios and charging devices from Motorola Solutions, Inc. Current radio systems will be obsolete in 2018. This will total $181,137.03 from the Transportation budget.
    • Working on repairing and replacing music/band equipment with Giant Steps, a local vendor for musical equipment repairs and parts, for school year 2017-18.
    • Emergency and early approval for commodity processing for the Hamilton County School Nutrition program.  
    • Emergency and early approval to contract with School Bus Consultants, LLC to assess existing contracts to establish requirements for contract compliance and oversight, develop a contractor accountability plan for all operators, and ensure adequate staffing to oversee contracts. This will total $15,500.00 from the Transportation Budget.   
    • The purchase of motor fuel from JAT Oil Company totalling $13,529.60 from the Warehouse Inventory Fund.       

Business and Finance:

  • Approval sought for two HCDE employees from the Information Technology Department to attend the International Society for Technology in Education Conference to learn and exchange information in field of educational technology. This will not exceed $10,000.00 coming from the General Fund Budget.
  • Approval sought for a contract with Public Education Foundation and the Principal Leadership Academy for training, mentorship, and support for Assistant Principals interested in moving into a Principal role. This will total $100,000.00 from the General Fund Budget.
  • HCDE has accepted a donation for $5,000.00 from Commissioner Discretionary bog funds for the installment and purchase of acoustic blankets for CCA.
  • The board will be asked to approve the charging of basic school fees to students for the FY 2017-2018. These fees will vary from school to school and between grades.
  • The board will receive the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for Hamilton County for the 2016 year as a matter of record for the minutes. This covers the financial statements for the Board of Education as well as the audit report which indicates the statements fairly presents the financial position of Hamilton County. This report is publically available on the Hamilton County website.
  • The board will receive the School Activity Fund Audit Report for Hamilton County Schools for the 2016 year as a matter of record for the minutes. The audit report indicates that the financial statements fairly present the financial position of the School Activity Funds in accordance with the accounting practices prescribed by the Tennessee Internal School Uniform Accounting Policy Manual. This report is publically available.   

Budget Amendments

  • The following budget amendments for Federal Grants and Self-Funded Programs for FY 2017 are recommended for approval:
    • Maintenance Recyclables Self-Funded Program, with a net increase of $13,029
    • Character Education Self-Funded Program, with transfers between line item Supplies for Regular Instruction to Hardware/Software Licences totally $1.389.00.
  • Board approval is needed to amend the FY17 General Purpose Operating Budget for the attached transfers within the Transportation and Instructional School Supplies accounts.
  • Approval is recommended to appropriate the unassigned fund balance of $5,324,000 for funds roofing projects at Hunter Middle School, Lookout Valley Middle/High Vocational, Soddy Middle, Tyner High Vocational and Auditorium, and Wallace Smith Elementary, installation of HVAC Controls at Wolftever Elementary, and the completion of the district wide telephone installation and 50 intercom or paging systems at schools for additional school safety.  

Curriculum and Instruction:

  • The Textbook Adoption Committee selected high quality instructional resources for use in Hamilton County classrooms and are recommending the approval of a list of textbooks totalling $284,166.40.
  • Approval is sought to submit the secondary education special courses applications to the State Department of Education for the 2017-18 school year.

Campus Support:

  • Soddy Daisy High School and community would like to transfer the name of the Gymnasium at the old school to the current existing high school. The name was approved by the School Board previously. The name is in honor of Ernest “Big Boy” Eldridge, who was a major influence on hundreds of student athletes in the northern Hamilton County area.
  • Lee McDade will recommend a 2017-2018 tuition rate of $3,305 for out-of-county students (in-state of Tennessee) and $8,570 for out-of-state students. Tuition is based on the revenues that are not received since the student resides either out-of-county or out-of state. Out-of-county proposed tuition increased by $13 or 0.39% compared to last year, while the out-of-state proposed tuition increased by $258 or 3.10%. Additionally, it is recommended that out-of-county or state exceptional education students be evaluated for admission on a case-by-case basis.
  • A presentation will be given for HCDE’s 3rd Quarter Bullying Report for the 2016-17 school year. There were a total of 203 reported confirmed cases of bullying.   
  • Policies:

 

  • Board Policy 4.210 Credit Recovery-2nd and Final Reading: This policy states that the director of schools shall ensure that credit recovery facilitators receive training regarding course organization, online instruction management and related technology. Credit recovery teachers shall comply with all State Board of Education certification requirements. Students will be eligible for credit recovery if they get written consent from a parent/guardian or previously taken an initial, non‐credit recovery section of the proposed course and received a grade of at least 50%.
  • Board Policy 4.211 Work Based Learning Program-2nd and Final Reading: This policy states that students shall have access to a system of structured work-based learning (WBL) experiences that allow them to apply classroom theories to practical problems as well as explore career options.  The director of schools shall develop administrative procedures to govern the efficient administration of the WLB program. Such procedures shall include, among other things, a process for evaluation and assessment of the program to ensure that it is of high quality and meets the needs of students.
  • Board Policy 4.606 Graduation Requirements-2nd and Final Reading: Graduation requirements are being updated to say that before high school graduation, every student must achieve the specified units of credit, take the required end of course exams, have satisfactory records of attendance and conduct, take the ACT or SAT in the 11th grade, and successfully complete a United States civics test. In addition requirements for early or special education graduation are detailed in the new policy.
  • Board Policy 4.607 Graduation Activities-2nd and Final Reading: Policy has been updated to now say that participation in the graduation ceremony is optional and students who participate must not behave in a disruptive manner. Additionally.  ceremonies and all activities included shall not be religious in nature. The content of any students’ speeches shall not reflect the endorsement, sponsorship, position, or expression of the school, employees, or the board. Additionally principals shall ensure that students graduating with distinction, state honors, or voluntarily completed at least 10 hours of community service each semester are recognized at graduation.
  • Board Policy 5.117 Procedures for Granting Tenure-2nd and Final Reading: A revision is being made to procedure granting tenure. Now the superintendent will recommend persons eligible for tenure at a board meeting with enough time to give notice of non-renewal to each teacher or educator not granted tenure within five (5) business days following the last instructional day of the school year.
  • Board Policy 6.205 Student Assignments-2nd and Final Reading: Students, including those in kindergarten, shall attend the school to which they are assigned. Principals shall be responsible for assigning students to classrooms based on records. Additionally, principals shall separate an alleged victim of child sexual abuse from an alleged perpetrator if the abuse allegedly occurred while the child was under the supervision or care of the school.
  • Board Policy 6.415 Student Suicide Prevention-2nd and Final Reading: All school certified staff must attend a suicide identification and prevention education training. This policy corresponds with and supports other federal, state and local efforts to provide youth with prevention education, early identification and intervention, and access to all local resources to promote health and prevent personal harm or injury.
  • Board Policy 6.505 Students in Foster Care-2nd and Final Reading: The Hamilton County School System shall provide all students in foster care, to include those awaiting foster care placement, with a free and appropriate public education. This policy include provisions for placement, enrollment, and transportation of foster students to schools.

Administrative Matters:

    • Lee McDade and the Transportation Supervisor are requesting the approval of independent bus driver contracts, contracts from HCDE employees who are independent contractors, and the contract with Durham Bus Services for the 2017-18 school year. These contracts have been reviewed.
    • For the month of March, a total for $16,978.50 in legal fees was paid to the firms Leitner, Williams, Dooley & Napolitan PLLC and Markel, von Kessler, & Cox.

 

  • Board Policy 6.503 Homeless Students-1st Reading: In order to be more comprehensive and comply with the Every Child Succeeds Act, the current policy on Homeless Students is being revised. These revisions include that homeless students will be automatically enrolled in school even if they are not able to produce records normally required for enrollment, placement in a school shall be determined based on student interest but also preference is given to a student’s school of origin (school they were enrolled in when last holding a residence), and schools shall keep records on homeless students.

 

  • Interim Superintendent Kirk Kelly will present a suggested schedule of sessions for the remainder of 2017.  

Important Dates and Events

  • May 19th and 20th, 2017→ Graduation Ceremonies at the Tivoli and the Memorial Auditorium
  • May 8th-20th, 2017→ Graduation Ceremonies at McKenzie Arena
  • May 25th, 2017→ Half Day for Students
  • May 26th, 2017→ Last Day of School/Report Cards (Buses will not run)

School Guide Video Launch Block Party a Smashing Success!

School Guide Video Launch Block Party a Smashing Success!

Community members who love Hamilton Schools turned out in droves at UnifiEd’s offices last Saturday, April 1 for a block party to celebrate the premier of the first 28 videos in the Public School Guide video series. Updates to every school’s Public School Guide were launched this weekend with 2017 data, and the first round of completed school videos were added to their respective Guides to help tell the unique story of each school beyond stats and test scores. Video production continues across the county, and each school will have their own video showcasing the great things happening in their classrooms over the next year.

“The first generation of our school guides provided information on all Hamilton County public schools including demographics, test scores, and classroom offerings. They did a great job of providing quantitative data, but we know numbers don’t tell the full story of these schools,” says Jonas Barriere, UnifiEd Executive Director. “The video project is a way of telling stories and highlighting achievements in our schools in a way that statistics don’t capture.”

The block party drew approximately 400 teachers, families, students, administrators, school board members, and members of the community to celebrate our schools. “The turnout demonstrated to me that people who are involved in public education are eager to celebrate our schools and the PEOPLE inside them,” says Abby Garrison, Executive Director of video project partner Causeway. The organization granted funds to Katie Smith, a Battle Academy parent, to create a school video series.

“The whole reason we chose Katie as a winner of the Causeway Challenge was because she wanted to tell a story about what’s really happening inside the school’s walls, and all the heart and the innovative programming and the uniqueness of each school.” Garrison adds, “I’ve always thought Chattanooga was a glass half-full kind of city, with an inherent yet gritty optimism. And to me, the video project embodies that.”

The grown-ups at the block party spent time interacting with the Public School Guide on tablets in the office lobby, comparing and contrasting student body make-up, academic achievement, and class offerings among schools. They were encouraged to leave thank-you notes to teachers, share written feedback on posters about what makes a great teacher, and what our students deserve.

The most thought- and discussion-provoking station explained the difference between equality and equity in our schools, and asked attendees to envision equity in our schools. They wrote Post-it note responses to what that would look like for our community and then added their sticky-note voice to an interactive art exhibit spelling out “I love HC Schools” on a wall facing McCallie Ave.

Meanwhile the kids were outside getting their faces painted, decorating giant Jenga blocks, making sidewalk chalk art, playing cornhole, and getting messy with popcorn and ice cream. Many of the students featured in the school videos attended with their families to get a first glimpse at their cinematic debuts.

Explore the Public School Guide here >

Watch the school videos on YouTube here >

 

Event gallery

School Board Watch Blog: March 2017

In this edition of UnifiEd’s School Board Watch Blog, we will take a look at the agenda for the March 16th regularly scheduled session of the Hamilton County School Board Meeting. The meeting will be held in the Hamilton County School Board Meeting Room at 3074 Hickory Valley Road and is set to begin at 5:30 PM. We will live tweet @UnifiEdHC, follow along at #HCSchools.

To see the entire agenda with supporting documents click here.

Hot Topics:

  • iZone and Strategic Plan Update: Interim Superintendent Kirk Kelly will give an iZone update at the start of the school board meeting. Beginning last year, HCDE created a Strategic Plan draft for the 2017 year and Dr. Kelly will also give an update on its progress. This plan had a detailed focus on better supporting iZone schools.

Recognitions and Presentations:

  • Student School Board Member D’Andre Anderson will give a presentation on the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council (SSAC) participation in two conferences this school year. He will show a video and provide a summary of the highlights of the 15th Annual Student SPEAK Out Conference and TSBA SCOPE Conference.
  • The principal at Lookout Valley Elementary School will recognize the Robojackets Robot Team who won first place in the Project Presentation in the Regional Competitions, first place for the Champion’s Award in the Super Regional Competition, second place for the Champion’s Award in the Georgia State Tournament, and will attend the World Competition in May.

Delegations:

  • The Band Director at Signal Mountain Middle/High School will be representing Hamilton County performing arts teachers to address the board regarding securing funding and support for Performing Arts in Hamilton County Schools. While performing arts classes require money for instruments, equipment, music, props, lighting, audio equipment, transportation, uniforms, costumes and assistant instructors, Hamilton County does not currently provide any funding for these programs.

Field Trips

  • CCA will send students to the Tennessee YMCA Youth in Government Tri-Star Conference.
  • Collegiate High will send students to attend the Southern Regional Honors Council Conference.
  • Soddy Daisy High School will participate in the JROTC field trip.
  • Lookout Valley Middle/High School and Signal Mountain Middle/High School students will travel to Washington, D.C. for a capital tour and study of American history.
  • Soddy Daisy High School Student Council will participate in the 2017 TASC Convention.
  • CCA musical theatre, acting, and vocal students will travel to New York City for professional exposure and master classes with Broadway professionals.
  • Signal Mountain Middle/High School, East Hamilton Middle/High School, Ooltewah High School, and Sale Creek Middle/High School will participate in sports related field trips.
  • Soddy Daisy High School Forensics Team will compete in the National Qualifier Forensics Tournament, Smoky Mountain Forensics Invitational, and the District Forensics Tournament.
  • Ooltewah High School will send chorus students to perform at Dollywood Amusement Park.
  • Soddy Daisy High School will participate in the TSSAA State Wrestling Tournament.
  • East Hamilton School will participate in a music related field trip.
  • Signal Mountain Middle/High and CCA will participate in a music related field trips.
  • Normal Park Museum Magnet Upper School, CSAS Lower, and East Lake Academy will send student to conduct field study at 4H Centers.
  • Soddy Daisy High School band students will participate in the TN Tech Honor Band.

Bids:

  • Board approval is requested for the Knox County Procurement Division to award Presentation Solutions, Inc. for printing systems and supplies including installation, setup and, initial on-site training.
  • The Cooperative Purchasing Network (TCPN) recently merged with the National Intergovernmental Purchasing Alliance Company (National IPA).The combined merger will aim to provide a more robust contract portfolio to education institutions and government entities and it is recommended that HCDE authorize the school system to continue participation with the merged entities National IPA/TCPN since it received good service from TCPN before the merger.
  • It is recommended that HCDE authorize the school system to participate in the Goodbuy Cooperative Purchasing Program to allow qualified members to purchase goods and services in an efficient, cost effective, and competitive procurement method. Any agreements may be terminated by program members at any time with written notice to Goodbuy.
  • Lee McDade is requesting approval of the amendment to the tabulation sheet for furnishing and installing cooking equipment for various schools. A mistake was made on the original tabulation sheet the Gas Combi Oven, Double Stack, Convotherm Model C4 ED 6.20GS awarded to Strategic Equipment, LLC. The tabulation sheet showed a strategic unit price of $26,467.17, but the correct unit price should be $28,467.17.
  • Approval is sought to purchase texts and resources from Pioneer Valley Books in excess of $10,000 to better support early literacy instruction. Funding for these purchases will be provided through the General Purpose account and Federal Programs.
  • Emergency approval is sought for the partial re-roofing of the Orchard Knob Middle School 6th grade wing. The existing roof has extensive leaks and is beyond repair and the replacement needs to occur as soon as possible. The recommendation is to accept Porter Roofing for the amount of $165,400.00.
  • It is recommended that fuel and gasoline for the school system is purchased from Sweetwater Valley Oil Company totalling $13,932.00.

Business and Finance:

  • Approval is being sought for teachers and administrators to attend the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD Empower 17) conference in Anaheim California to learn and exchange information in curriculum and instruction. Administrators may be participating in this conference, in addition to teachers, which would make the attendance for HCDE collectively exceed $10,000.00.  Funding sources for this request might include, but are not limited to, Federal Title I, and Federal Title II.
  • The Principal at Orchard Knob Middle School is seeking to enter into a contract with Dr. Shirley Kilgore to aid in professional development for staff. This would be a total of $4,500.00 from their school based School Improvement Grant budget.
  • Approval is being sought for Teachers, Administrators, and other staff members to attend the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in San Antonio Texas to learn and exchange information in the field of educational technology. The potential addition of administrators and other staff members participating in this conference would make the attendance for HCDE collectively exceed $10,000.00.  Funding sources for this request might include, but are not limited to, General Purpose, Federal Title I, and Federal Title II.

Budget Amendments

The following budget amendments for Federal Grants and Self-Funded Programs for FY 2017 are recommended for approval:

  • Title III, English Language Acquisition, with transfers between line items and a net increase of $3,404
  • Family Resource Center Grant, with transfers between line items
  • IDEA Preschool, with transfers between line items and a net increase of $9,917

Board approval is needed to amend the FY17 General Purpose Operating Budget for the transfers between accounts for health services, exceptional education, and information technology. Additionally, approval is needed to amend the FY17 School Nutrition budget for the transfers between accounts for healthcare, personnel, and equipment.

Administrative and Business Matters:

  • Board Policy 4.210 Credit Recovery-1st Reading: This policy states that the director of schools shall ensure that credit recovery facilitators receive training regarding course organization, online instruction management and related technology. Credit recovery teachers shall comply with all State Board of Education certification requirements. Students will be eligible for credit recovery if they get written consent from a parent/guardian or previously taken an initial, non‐credit recovery section of the proposed course and received a grade of at least 50%.
  • Board Policy 4.211 Work Based Learning Program-1st Reading: This policy states that students shall have access to a system of structured work-based learning (WBL) experiences that allow them to apply classroom theories to practical problems as well as explore career options.  The director of schools shall develop administrative procedures to govern the efficient administration of the WLB program. Such procedures shall include, among other things, a process for evaluation and assessment of the program to ensure that it is of high quality and meets the needs of students.
  • Board Policy 4.606 Graduation Requirements-1st Reading: Graduation requirements are being updated to say that before high school graduation, every student must achieve the specified units of credit, take the required end of course exams, have satisfactory records of attendance and conduct, take the ACT or SAT in the 11th grade, and successfully complete a United States civics test. In addition requirements for early or special education graduation are detailed in the new policy.
  • Board Policy 4.607 Graduation Activities-1st Reading: Policy has been updated to now say that graduation ceremonies and all activities included shall not be religious in nature. The content of any students’ speeches shall not reflect the endorsement, sponsorship, position, or expression of the school, employees, or the board. Additionally principals shall ensure that students graduating with distinction, state honors, or voluntarily completed at least 10 hours of community service each semester are recognized at graduation.
  • Board Policy 5.117 Procedures for Granting Tenure-1st Reading: A revision is being made to procedure granting tenure. Now the superintendent will recommend persons eligible for tenure at a board meeting with enough time to give notice of non-renewal to each teacher or educator not granted tenure within five (5) business days following the last instructional day of the school year.
  • Board Policy 6.205 Student Assignments-1st Reading: Students, including those in kindergarten, shall attend the school to which they are assigned. Principals shall be responsible for assigning students to classrooms based on records. Additionally, principals shall separate an alleged victim of child sexual abuse from an alleged perpetrator if the abuse allegedly occurred while the child was under the supervision or care of the school.
  • Board Policy 6.413 Prevention and Treatment of Sports Related Concussions-1st Reading: This policy makes arrangements for faculty, staff, athletic directors, and coaches (employed or volunteer) to manidorialy receive training on how to treat and prevent concussions. Additionally, it says a child showing symptoms of a concussion during an athletic activity must immediately be removed from the activity and analyzed by a licensed healthcare professional.
  • Board Policy 6.415 Student Suicide Prevention-1st Reading: All school certified staff must attend a suicide identification and prevention education training. This policy corresponds with and supports other federal, state and local efforts to provide youth with prevention education, early identification and intervention, and access to all local resources to promote health and prevent personal harm or injury.
  • Board Policy 6.505 Students in Foster Care-1st Reading: The Hamilton County School System shall provide all students in foster care, to include those awaiting foster care placement, with a free and appropriate public education. This policy include provisions for placement, enrollment, and transportation of foster students to schools.
  • Legal Services: For the month of February, $19,213.50 was spent on legal services from Leitner, Williams, Dooley & Napolitan PLLC.

Board Matters:

  • Approval sought for all teachers who satisfactorily completed their probationary period and met the evaluation score requirements in accordance with TCA to be awarded tenure.
  • Interim Superintendent, Dr. Kirk Kelly, is seeking approval for a continuation of a traditional summer four-day work week, which runs Monday through Thursday for 10 hours daily. This schedule would begin the week of May 29, and conclude with July 28 being the last Friday closure and would apply to Central Office employees and school-based administrators. The mandatory Friday closures across the district will result in an energy-based cost-savings (utility and fuel) of roughly $165,000.

Important Dates and Events

  • March 17th, 2017: Teach Professional Development, No Students
  • March 20th-24th, 2017: Spring Break
  • March 31st, 2017: Report Cards
  • April 5th, 2017: Kindergarten Registration
  • April 13th, 2017: Finance Committee Meeting
  • April 20th, 2017: School Board Meeting

 

School Board Recap: February 2017

Before the regularly scheduled school board session, a facilities meeting was called to discuss the title transfer of the East Ridge High School Athletics Complex to the City of East Ridge. Additionally, at the request of the County Commission, Lee McDade put together a list of facilities that needed investment and separated these needs into four categories: (1) Need for Facility, (2) Building Need, (3) Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing Need, and (4) Athletic. During the remaining time, the board discussed long-term sustainability projects, the use of building space for Pre-Kindergarten, transportation, class size growth, and the importance of engaging with the County Commission on budget priorities and planning.  

The regular session began with several presentations including a story about a young boy from Mexico and his dedication to learning, honoring the Spelling Bee winners from Orchard Knob Middle, recognizing a senior with 13 years of perfect attendance, and improvements being made at iZone schools. Additionally, a representative from Dalewood Elementary presented UnifiEd’s video highlighting their school and discussed the progresses that were being made.

The HCDE leadership team gave updates on the Strategic Plan around two work areas, “Great Teachers, Great Leaders” and “Engage Every Child, Every Day.” Within the Great Teachers report, they discussed the February launch of a teacher mentorship program, improvements to teacher professional development through a choice-based model, and stronger partnerships with UTC. Within the Engage Every Child report, there were examples given of schools that were personalizing learning, developing science labs with a focus on hands on learning, and creating computer science training opportunities for elementary schools.

HCDE announced that Volkswagen has released an RFP to put $1 million dollars into schools seeking to innovate and learn through design thinking processes. There will be 8 schools awarded in August and 7 the following year. After the consent agenda was approved, the board approved to change the phone system for HCDE, sell the East Ridge High Athletic Property to the city of East Ridge, and a proposal for the board to talk directly with bus drivers to continue the discussion around transportation.

Each board member prioritized Harrison Elementary, CSLA, and East Hamilton Middle High as schools needing new buildings. They also identified Snow Hill Elementary, Howard, Spring Creek Creek, Lookout Valley Middle High, Central High, and Hixson High as in need of additions. The meeting ended with Tiffany Robinson discussing the protest that day in the Latino community resulting from Federal level action. She emphasized that we need to remind these families that they belong, are part of our community, and that central staff is working hard to ensure they feel welcome.

School Board Watch Blog: February 2017

In this edition of UnifiEd’s School Board Watch Blog, we will take a look at the agenda for the February 16th regularly scheduled session of the Hamilton County School Board Meeting. The meeting will be held in the Hamilton County School Board Meeting Room at 3074 Hickory Valley Road and is set to begin at 5:30 PM. We will live tweet @UnifiEdHC, follow along at #HCSchools.

To see the entire agenda with supporting documents click here.

Hot Topics:

  • Board Policy 5.1041 Americans with Disabilities-First Reading: Due to federal law, there will an adoption in board policy regarding the American Disabilities Act (ADA) so that all employees specifically understand the ADA requirements. It details how employees can request for ADA Assistance.
  • iZone and Strategic Plan Update: Interim Superintendent Kirk Kelly will give an iZone update at the start of the school board meeting. Beginning last year, HCDE created a Strategic Plan draft for the 2017 year and Dr. Kelly will also give an update on its progress. This plan had a detailed focus on better supporting iZone schools.
  • Vote on the Title transfer of East Ridge High School Athletics Complex: An Interlocal Agreement has been made and entered into between the Hamilton County Board of Education and the City of East Ridge, Tennessee. HCDE agrees to transfer the title of the East Ridge High School Athletics Complex to the City of East Ridge for such time as the Board of Education operates East Ridge High School and East Ridge Middle School at their present locations.

Recognitions and Presentations:

  • The Principal of Orchard Knob and the iZone Director are requesting to honor the Orchard Knob Middle School Spelling Bee winners. In the District 4 Spelling Bee, student from OKMS placed 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, and we are excited to honor their incredible work and achievement.
  • The Principal of Lookout Valley Middle High will give a recognition of a student who maintained perfect attendance for all 12 years of his schooling.

Field Trips

  • Hixson High School will send students to students to attend Future Business Leaders of America State competition.
  • Lakeside Academy will participate in a science field trip at the Nature’s Classroom in Mentone, Alabama.
  • Signal Mountain High School, Lookout Valley Middle High, East Hamilton School, East Ridge High School, and Sale Creek High will send students to participate in the Tennessee YMCA Youth in Government Capital Conference and Tri-Star Conference.
  • East Hamilton Middle High School and Ooltewah High School will participate in the Special Olympics Winter Games.
  • Central High School will send students to Hendersonville to compete in a tournament.
  • CSAS Upper will send students to present research at the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.
  • East Hamilton School, Hixson High School, Ooltewah Middle School, and Signal Mountain Middle High will participate in sports related field trips
  • Hixson High School, Red Bank High School, and Sale Creek High School will send students enrolled in JROTC to participate in related field trips.
  • Sale Creek High School will participate in an Art related field trip.
  • Signal Mountain Middle High School will participate in the Science Bowl 2017.
  • Signal Mountain Middle High School will participate in arts and music related field trips.
  • Soddy Daisy High School will participate in the National Forensics Qualifier Tournament.
  • STEM School will send students to compete in a robotics competition.
  • Signal Mountain Middle High School will participate in the Model United Nations Conference.

Bids:

  • The Principal at Chattanooga Center for Creative Arts is requesting the purchase of 21 pianos for music classes and programming totalling $45,178.97 for cost of equipment and installation.
  • The Director of Exceptional Education is requesting that the board approve the amendment with Stellar Therapy, for the provision of speech and language services to Private and Home School students. This contract amendment is for the private school proportional services plan paid for from the IDEA, Part B Grant $ 291,341 and IDEA, Preschool Grant $7,804 not to exceed $299,145.00.
  • The Director of Exceptional Education is requesting that the board approve the amendment with Stellar Therapy for a staffing contract for the 2015-2016 SY. The amendment is needed to cover additional staffing needs to cover two leave of absences, and one full time unfilled SLP position that has been vacant all school year. The contract amendment is for an additional $76,000 for the 16-17 school year making the total contract not to exceed $2,065,972.00.
  • A request to the board is being made for the approval to utilize CARTA for transportation services and as an additional charter bus carrier for the remainder of school year 2016-17, and include the 2017-18 school year.
  • The Principal at Red Bank Elementary School is requesting the approval of the purchase of leveled reading books collections A through E with Pioneer Valley Press/Books for a total of $1,606.50 from their school based Federal Title I budget.
  • A request is being made for the contract purchase of Reading Plus for Hamilton County High Schools. This contract includes Reading Plus seat access for 18 district high schools and program access for 36 months. The total investment is $174,400. with an agreement between HCDE and McClellan Foundation both paying half the amount ($87,200), which will come out of their General Budget.

Business and Finance:

  • The Principal at Boyd-Buchanan High School is requesting the approval to attend the TAIS Global Education in the classroom and beyond to be held in Nashville TN totalling the amount of $701.25. Funding for this request will come from the school’s based Federal Title II budget.
  • Approval is being requested for up to 10 staff members from Signal Mountain Middle School to attend an upcoming International Baccalaureate workshop in Atlanta, Georgia. Because the school has implemented the Middle Years Program, teachers are required to receive continuous training in their subject area for certification. The Conference Attendance Request totals $18,314.20. This includes registration and travel expenses for the group. Funds are to be provided by the General Purpose Budget.
  • A+Educators will provide a Dive into Google Drive one day training workshop for all 25 teachers, 2 school administrators, and 3 paraprofessionals totalling $4,500.00.
  • Assistant Superintendent of Finance will present the monthly financial report comparing budget to actual through December, 2016.

Budget Amendments

The following budget amendments for Federal Grants and Self-Funded Programs for FY2017 are recommended for approval:

  • Title I, Improving Basic Programs, with transfers between line items and a net decrease of $46,093
  • Title II, Teacher & Principal Training & Recruitment, with transfers between line items and a net decrease of $7,268
  • 21st Century Community Learning Centers at Year 3 for East Lake Academy, with transfers between line items
  • Volkswagen Teacher Training & Development Self-Funded Program, totaling $1,717
  • Gigabit Community Fund Self-Funded Program, totaling $10,000
  • Supplemental Salaries Self-Funded Program, with a net increase of $27,798

Additionally, board approval is needed to amend the FY17 General Purpose Operating Budget for the transfers between accounts for staffing, human resources, and system-wide benefits.

Human Resources:

  • Approval sought for a one-year Sabbatical Leave request by current I-Zone Director, Sheryl Randolph. Approval would result in Ms. Randolph receiving 50% of her current  salary during this leave while working through her doctoral studies. Her position would need to be back-filled during this time.

Administrative and Business Matters

  • To combat issues with a dated phone system in HCDE, the board has approved the Metro Nashville Contract for internet services and voice services for ENA in April 2016. Education Network of America (ENA) provides a voice over IP (VoIP) solution for telephones and for paging. In the August 2016 board meeting, the HCDE board approved $2 million for these telecommunication improvements. Contract and funding is in place to cover this purchase and it is recommended to provide the ENA SmartVoice solution for the entire school district.
  • Lee McDade will provide the board with a transportation update.
  • For the month of January, HCDE paid $25,697.84 in legal fees to Leitner, Williams, Dooley & Napolitan PLLC.

Important Dates and Events

  • President’s Day-February 20, 2017 (non-paid Holiday for School Staff-12 month employees report-offices will be open)

 

School Board Recap: January 2017

Before the regularly scheduled school board meeting, the Finance Committee met to discuss different busing options available for Hamilton County in an effort to move forward with a new transportation plan. Christie Jordan, Assistant Superintendent for Finance, gave a presentation of the possible costs associated with moving to an in-house transportation system. According to Jordan’s estimates, if HCDE took over transportation in-house, it could save the district up to 1.9 million dollars a year in transportation costs; however, there would be initial start up costs of about 10 million dollars to purchase used buses for the school system. The other options discussed were to work with current independent bus owners and operators in the county or enter into a contract with another large service provider like Durham.  

The regular session began with recognitions for incredible gifted staff in Special Education. Karen Glenn then gave a report on bullying from the fall school semester. There were 122 confirmed cases of bullying and 122 safely plans provided. Glenn went on to describe some incredible anti-bullying initiatives now taking place including 311 middle school and 286 high school students engaged in school climate leadership trainings. A career and technology update was given to the board sharing student success stories from the partnership with Volkswagen, Mechatronics Academy and the upcoming program Polytechnic Academy.

Interim Superintendent Dr. Kirk Kelly, gave an update on iZone schools and highlighted ways in which the school system plans to further support these schools as outlined in the district’s strategic plan. Dr. Kelly and Jill Levine discussed many programs that are currently underway to better support our most vulnerable populations including: earlier recruitment efforts for high needs schools, mentorship programs for new teachers, innovative literacy programs, increased numbers of guidance counselors and behavior specialists, engaging summer school options, and grants for teachers who want to integrate hands on science and art curriculum in the classroom. Dr. Kelly will continue to update the board on iZone strategies at their strategic planning session this weekend.

In the delegation portion of the meeting, Dan Liner asked the board to write a resolution, joining Knox County and Oak Ridge City schools, to publicly state opposition for vouchers, citing that they were a diversion of funding for public education, not adequately oversighted, and allowed for public tax dollars to support a private entity. Kirsten Johnson then spoke on behalf of Harrison Elementary and their need for a new building. She urged the board members to tour the school and prioritize a new building after students and staff became dizzy and ill while working in conditions with high carbon monoxide levels due to inadequate CO2 detectors. Last, Michael Walton spoke to the board, inviting them to a Greenspaces event, focused on reducing utility costs through sustainable energy.

The consent agenda was unanimously approved. Notably, the board approved an agenda item to extend the ABM custodial contract only by 11 months, which will give the board and ABM time to make needed changes and come back with a proposal including increased pay for their employees and adequate supplies necessary to effectively carry out their job. The County Commission Bond Donation of $500,000 to replace Central High School’s track has been postponed pending discussion on county wide facility needs. The agreement for the East Ridge athletic fields contract has also been postponed until discussions can occur between the city and state regarding grant funding. Finally, the board ended the meeting with a continued discussion about transportation and busing. They will call a special session on Saturday, January 21, at 12pm to discuss bus routes, issues concerning independent owners and operators, and take a vote on an RFP for a bus service.

 

School Board Watch Blog: January 2017

In this edition of UnifiEd’s School Board Watch Blog, we will take a look at the agenda for the January 19th regularly scheduled session of the Hamilton County School Board Meeting. The meeting will be held in the Hamilton County School Board Meeting Room at 3074 Hickory Valley Road and is set to begin at 5:30 PM. We will live tweet @UnifiEdHC, follow along at #HCSchools.

To see the entire agenda with supporting documents click here.

Hot Topics:

  • 1st Semester Bullying Report: Dr. McDade and Karen Glenn will give a presentation on the Hamilton County bullying report for last semester. This report details how many confirmed cases of bullying were found and resulting disciplinary actions. In addition, they will go over goals to decrease bullying including targeting leadership trainings and bullying prevention efforts.
  • iZone Update: Interim Superintendent Kirk Kelly will give an iZone update. Beginning last year, HCDE created a Strategic Plan draft for the 2017 year. This plan had a detailed focus on better supporting iZone schools.

Field Trips

  • Hixson High School will send students to the TN Future Farmers of America State Convention.
  • Red Bank High School will have students compete in the Student Television Network Convention.
  • East Hamilton Middle High School and Ooltewah High School will send students to participate in the Special Olympics Winter Games.
  • Central High School and Soddy Daisy High School will participate in sports field trips.
  • Loftis Middle School will send students to Washington, D.C. for hands on learning of content related material.
  • Ooltewah High School, Soddy Daisy High School, and Red Bank High School will participate in music field trips.
  • Ooltewah High School will participate in a dance field trip.
  • Red Bank High School will send JROTC students to compete in the 7th BDE Academic/Rifle/Drill Championships.
  • Signal Mountain Middle High School will send the robotics team to compete in the High School Robotics Team Regional Competition.
  • Soddy Daisy High School will send the environmental club to compete in the NOSB Team Competition.

Bids:

  • Approval sought for the venders BRESCO, Strategic Equipment LLC, and MSA Digital to purchase equipment for the School Nutrition Program including cooking equipment, a freezer, and a copier printer.
  • Approval sought for the demolition of the Old East Lake Elementary School by Complete Demolition Services, LLC totaling $262,000.00 from the Capital Budget.
  • Approval to purchase new plumbing materials for Lakeside Academy from Wholesale Supply Group Inc. totalling $12,167.80 from the Capital Budget.
  • Attorney Scott Bennett and the Title IX legal consultant, Courtney Bullard, have recommended that all faculty and staff participate in required professional Title IX training. HCDE has obtained three quotes.  Partnership is not the least expensive; however, they best fit our needs and expectations for Title IX training. The on-line training will cost $37,500 for 6,250 employees and the funds will come from Human Resources.
  • The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office was recently awarded a federal COPS grant which allowed the funding for the placement of officers in local schools. As a condition of that grant, the Sheriff’s Office must have a MOU in place which will cover the entire grant period requiring an amendment to the original agreement between the Board of Education and the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office.

Recognitions and Presentations:

  • Recognitions will be made to several gifted teachers for their recent awards and accomplishments: Lindsey Glass, winner of the Jo Patterson Distinguished Service Award, Kelly Davis, winner of the Teacher of the Year Award, Lauren Lindsey, winner of the Horizon Award, Ty Campbell, teacher conference presenter in the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), Lorri Whitney, co-president of Tennessee Association for the Gifted (TAG), and Tara Strang, co-President of Tennessee Association for the Gifted (TAG) and presenter at the National Association for the Gifted (NAGC).
  • David Cowan will be giving an update the Volkswagen Mechatronics Akademie and Chattanooga Polytechnic Academy. Volkswagen America has allocated funds to establish a scholarship fund to support students in the Mechatronics Academy. The funds will be distributed through the Community Foundation and will be available to support cost not covered through the Dual Enrollment Grant. The Chattanooga Polytechnic Academy continues work group meeting, looking at funding possibilities, developing marketing materials, and discussing staffing.

Business and Finance:

  • The Principal at The Howard School is requesting a total of $4,500.00 from their school based Title I budget to contract with Dr. Shirley Kilgore. The recommended consultant will provide professional development for the following areas: positive behavior intervention, support training with at-risk students, support PBIS and school safety, increase attendance and reduce suspension rate, and increase academic growth as outlined in their school improvement plan.
  • Christie N. Jordan, Assistant Superintendent of Finance, will give a presentation of the monthly financial report comparing actual year-to-date expenditures to the original adopted budget through November 2016.

Budget Amendments

The following budget amendments for Federal Grants and Self-Funded Programs for FY2017 are recommended for approval:

  • School Improvement Grant Cohort III for IZONE District, totalling $231,782.
  • School Improvement Grant Cohort III for IZONE Schools, totalling $1,007,532.
  • Focus Schools, totalling $108,461 for school improvement.
  • National Science Foundation Project Inspire, with a net increase of $32,309.
  • Perkins IV Reserve Vocational Self-Funded Program, totaling $24,909.
  • Benwood Foundation Self-Funded Program, with a net increase of $50,000.
  • Service Fund Self-Funded Program, totaling $3,000.      

Human Resources:

  • Approval sought for two new positions paid through Federal Programs and both until end-of-year only. These positions are a Dean of Students (Temporary with Benefits) for East Ridge High School and a Graduation Coach (Part-Time / No Benefits) for Howard High School.

Board Matters:

  • Accepted donation made by Commissioner Beck totalling $2,500 to purchase books for Hillcrest Elementary School.
  • The Maclellan Foundation donated a recreational vehicle that had been converted to a mobile computer lab. The iZone Department used this lab for their schools for over a year but no longer uses this vehicle, so they are requesting approval to deed the vehicle to the Bethlehem Center to use in the community.
  • Approval sought for textbook committees to work on selecting curriculum resources. The committees will work over the course of the next three months to to begin the work in January 2017.
  • A request for ratification of early approval to accept $500,000 of bond funds for the Central High School / Brown Middle School track. The County Commission added this to their agenda as well.

Administrative and Business Matters

  • Approval sought for the ABM Custodial Contract 11 month extension. It was discussed at the Finance Committee Meeting on January 11, 2017 to request ABM to extend their contract by 11 months in lieu of 2 years as stipulated in the contract and the ABM has agreed to this extension.
  • The board will review two students’ zero tolerance suspension appeal decision per request of the parents.
  • For the month of December, HCDE paid $23,311.00 in legal fees to Leitner, Williams, Dooley & Napolitan PLLC.

Important Dates and Events

  • January 30-March 10, 2017: Parent Teacher Conferences
  • February 9th 2017: School Board Agenda Work Session, Board Room, 5:00 pm
  • February 16th, 2017: Regularly Session Board Meeting, Board Room, 5:30 pm

 

A Year in Review

A BIG THANK YOU!

2016 was an exciting year for UnifiEd! With increased community involvement, positive changes in our school system, and some of our greatest successes to date, 2016 was truly a breakout year. Our team and the Hamilton County community worked very hard this past year to come together and demand change in our school system for the betterment of students, teachers, families, and all stakeholders. It is now clear how much impact can be made by raising the voice of our community. UnifiEd looks forward to seeing what incredible new things we can accomplish this coming year. But first, let’s take a look at the amazing accomplishments of UnifiEd in 2016:

Student Voice Team:

After finding discrepancies between the state and local bullying and harassment policies, our student-led team successfully campaigned for a better policy for HCDE. They led meetings with students across the county and presented their findings to the school board, who implemented the new bullying and harassment policy change. Our Student Voice Team went on to lead roundtable discussion in each Hamilton County high school and worked on equity driven student-led campaigns throughout these schools.

Superintendent Search Process:

This year, we saw a lot of changes in our local school government. UnifiEd led a campaign for accountability with the Superintendent by enabling hundreds of community members to reach out to their representatives after there were concerns about transparency and communication. We hosted 10 community conversations in each of the nine districts to ensure community voice was incorporated into the superintendent selection process. These discussions produced four community-led recommendations for public involvement in the superintendent search process, leading over 200 community members to contact their representatives in support of a comprehensive community engagement plan. Over 50 community members attended our rally at the school board meeting pressuring board members to adopt the four recommendations. School board members are now in communication with the search firm about including a robust community input plan throughout the candidate search process.

School Board Elections:

Since 4 districts were up for reelection this year, we created an online tool, designed a brochure, and hosted meetings in all districts to help Hamilton County residents become more informed on how to run for school board. As a result, all districts open for election were contested. We hosted School Board Debates with 100% candidate participation. 377 community members attended these debates and had the opportunity to ask candidates questions.

Community Schools

UnifiEd teamed up with Great Schools Partnership of Knox County to host a Community Schools Workshop providing residents with information on how to establish a community school model in their district. We then sent over 30 parents, teachers, and organizational leaders to Knox County community schools to collect best practice research to better understand how to implement this model here at home. After extensive research, we helped establish a community school council for Red Bank High School and sent a community leader to Arizona for the Community Schools Conference. Through our campaigning on this initiative, HCDE has now agreed to adopt and implement the community school model throughout Hamilton County schools.

Hamilton County Public School Guide:

After over a year of extensive research and data collection, UnifiEd released the Hamilton County Public School Guide, the first education data dashboard created in Hamilton County. This tool provides the community with information concerning all 79 of our public schools such as demographic data, test scores, college and career readiness, and how to contact local representatives. Efforts are currently underway to illustrate school climate across the county because we know test scores and data don’t always give us the full picture.

UnifiEducators Committee:

This year, UnifiEd hosted monthly meetings with local educators to identify key issues affecting teachers. This lead to an ESOL campaign to improve communication between HCDE and Spanish speaking parents and students. The UnifiEducators Committee continues to grow and we look forward to seeing their progress next year.

PACT Implementation:

Recently, HCDE has drafted a strategic plan. This plan calls for HCDE to adopt much of our PACT for Public Education! Their plan calls for the following Pact Points to be adopted:

1a- Implement a plan to recruit the best possible teachers for all schools in HCDE.

1b- Retain our teachers by having a robust county-wide mentorship plan, individualized professional development.

1d- Offer incentives to keep the best teachers in the highest need schools.

3b- Implement short and long-term goals for the school board using metrics based on student outcomes.

We want to thank everyone who has been engaged in our work this year – change is impossible without you. We made some incredible progress towards making our schools the best they can be. Students, teachers, and the community are at the heart of our work. We look forward to building on this momentum in 2017!