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School Board Recap: July 2016

The school board meeting began with Dan Liner, president of the HCEA teachers union, announcing his excitement “about this meeting more than any other board meeting” because the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was finally going to a vote. The MOU was created by a committee of 13 individuals who represent the best interest of management, employees, students, and teachers.

The MOU was later ratified with an almost unanimous approval, with the exception of Dr. Greg Martin. Dr. Martin expressed concern over Insurance Section 9 which pays 60% of health insurance for 55 year old retirees who have worked for ten years at HCDE and 100% of the health insurance for teachers that have spent 30 years in the system. Dr. Martin stated “I just have a real problem with that aspect, because any other company, such as Volkswagen, would not give you insurance after only working for ten years.”

Highlights of the MOU include teacher’s individualized planning time, stipends (pending available funding) to teachers attending professional development, a 2% increase in teachers salary, a $250 teacher bonus around Thanksgiving, and a new Fringe Benefits section that gives teachers $20 per unused sick day to attract and retain teachers upon retirement if they announce their intention to retire by February 1 of the school year.

The Ooltewah girls soccer team then pleaded the board to find the funds for a girls soccer field. Ten years ago parents threatened a Title 9 lawsuit for not providing the girls team with a soccer field, whilst all the boys teams had one. The girls team now practices in the baseball field, and one community member voiced he felt that the team was “slowly becoming the black sheep of the community.” The soccer team is now being forced to reschedule three of their home games because of the painting schedule of the field they play on. The Lady Owls closed their request stating “we are only asking for equal opportunity.”  

The board went on to unanimously approve the minutes of the Special Called Session on April 14th, 2016 and on the Consent Agenda.

The July 21st session closed with the board voting on three superintendent search firms to interview within the next two weeks. The search firm finalists are Coleman Lew and Associates (6 votes), McPherson Jacobson L.L.C. (6 votes), and TSBA (4 votes).

School Board Watch Blog: August 2015

In this edition of UnifiEd’s School Board Watch, we’ll take a look at the agenda for the August 20th regular 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. The Board Meeting is set to begin at 5:30 PM. We will be there live tweeting, follow along on Twitter: @UnifiEdHC, #HCSchools.

Items of Interest:

  • Second and Final Reading of Board Policy 1.404: Appearances Before the Board: In December, UnifiEd launched a campaign for greater public participation and transparency in Hamilton County public schools. After campaigning for 6 months and building a strong community coalition, Hamilton County School Board voted to revise their Public Comment Policy. The revised policy will allow the public to address the Board by signing up to speak at least 30 minutes prior to the start of the meeting.

To see the entire agenda with supporting documents click HERE.

On the consent agenda* for Thursday’s Meeting the board is scheduled to approve:

Eduction and Leadership Support

  • Field Trips are scheduled for the following schools: Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences students are taking college tour trips; a Hamilton County Collegiate High School student is doing a leadership training; Signal Mountain Middle/High School, Ooltewah High School, and Red Bank High School are doing sports related trips.

Business and Finance

1. Bids

  • Contract between HCDE and STARS (Students Taking A Right Stand) – This contract totals $31,500 and will provide training and support in the following initiatives: bullying prevention support, peer mediation training, leadership training, alternative to full suspension, and kindness matters campaign.  This contract is contingent upon approval of the Safe Schools and Safe and Supportive Schools Grants as submitted to the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) for SY 2015-16.
  • Contract/Proposal with Agile Mind Educational Holding, Inc. – This contract will provide an Intensified Algebra program for Howard High School and East Ridge High School ESOL students. The $21,3000 of funding will be provided by the federally funded grant for immigrant students awarded to HCDE for the 2015-16 school year.
  • Contract with Reading Plus/Taylor Associates Communications – This contract will provide Bess T. Shepherd, East Side Elementary, and Sequoyah High School with Reading Plus technology totaling $15,375. This program creates personalized learning experiences by combining advances in reading research with a user-centered design to inspire and empower today’s learner (Funding Source: Federal Title I budget).
  • Purchase of Title I Compacts from Channing Bete Company – This contract will provide the following Title I compacts for a total of $23,332.85: Parents Rights in Education – A Guide to the No Child Left Behind Act, School Wide Title I Programs – How and Why They Work, and School Wide Parent Compacts.
  • Renewal of Support and Maintenance with Book Systems – This contract renewal will provide students and faculty with easy access to their school’s online library catalog and educationally appropriate websites totaling $35, 936 (Funding Source: Self-Funded Program).
  • Early Approval to expand the playground design at the East Brainerd Elementary School – The principal and PTA are requesting the early approval to expedite the material fabrication and expansion of the playground at East Brainerd Elementary School totaling $50,000 (Funding Source: County Commission & school donations).
  • Early Approval of the Tyson and Jennie-O/Food Sales East Commodity Processing Revisions – Due to issues with handling the dark meat of the Tyson commodity and Avian flue with the Jennie-O turkey product, the School Nutrition Program is requesting replacement food items for school lunches.
  • Contract Extension for Fencing – This contract will furnish and install fencing for the schools system through A-Affordable Fencing Co. for SY 2015-16 (Funding Source: Operating/Maintenance and Capital Projects Budgets).
  • Purchase of Steam Boiler for CSAS – HCDE will purchase a steam boiler from Hajoca Corporation for a total of $42,523.47 (Funding Source: Capital Projects Fund).

2. Conferences and Consultants

  • A Plus Educator’s, LLC – This will provide teachers from Notre Dame High School, St. Jude Catholic School, and Our Lady Perpetual Help with manageable guidance on aligning and selecting instructional resources based on Current TN State standards totaling $25,910 (Funding Source: Schoo; Based Federal Title II).
  • Mary Jenkins, Consultant – This contract will provide East Ridge Middle School teachers and administrators with a consultant to empower them to incorporate research-based instructional methods and best teaching practices totaling $14,000 (Funding Source: School Based Federal Title I).
  • Dr. Terry Stevenson – This consultant will identify Bible teachers, maintain and enhance the quality and effectiveness of Bible history educators, and improve the overall learning experience of students in these classes (Funding Source: Self-Funding Bible in the Schools Program).
  • Teachers Development Group – This program will empower Soddy Daisy Middle School teachers to incorporate research-based instructional methods and best teaching practices in Mathematics totaling $13,350 (Funding Source: School Based Federal Title I).

3. Financial Reports

  • Monthly financial report comparing proposed budget to actual expenditure through June 30, 2015

4. Budget Amendments

  • Federal and Self-funded: Line item transfers for School Improvement Grant iZone Schools, line item transfers and a net increase of $138,880 for Safe School Climate, ConnnectTN Internet totaling $200,000, IDEA Discretionary Supplemental Grant totaling $20,070, Safety Security Systems Self-Funded Program totaling $85,789, Community Donations-Schools Self- Funded Program totaling $23,565, CLASS (Coalition of Large School Systems) Self-Funded Program totaling $130,245, Benwood Foundation Self-Funded Program with an increase of $900.

Board Matters

  • Naming of a Portion of a School Facility: The school committee at East Hamilton School has voted to recommend the football stadium be named to honor former Hamilton County Commissioner Larry Henry.

Administrative/Business Matters 

1. Change to Classified TCRS Plan: The Hamilton County Commission adopted resolutions changing the retirement plan for County employees from the existing TCRS defined benefit plan to an alternate hybrid retirement plan for classified employees hired October 1, 2015 or later.

2. First Reading of the Following Board Policies:

  • Board Policy 6.600 Student Records –  Due to the new requirements for student records policies under the 2014 Data Accessibility, Transparent and Accountability Act, it is necessary to revise the current policy for student records to comply with the new requirements which limits access to student records for confidentiality reasons unless needed for ‘legitimate educational interest’.
  • Board Policy 6.601 Student Records Annual Notification of Rights – Due to the new requirements for student records policies under the 2014 Data Accessibility, Transparent and accountability Act, it is necessary to adopt a new board policy regarding student records annual notification of rights. This information will notify parents(s) of students and eligible students of each student’s privacy rights and will be given to the student’s parent(s) or the eligible student at the time of enrollment.
  • Board Policy 6.602 Student Records Inspection & Correction Procedure – Due to the new requirements for student records policies under the 2014 Data Accessibility, Transparent and Accountability Act, it is necessary to adopt a new board policy regarding student records inspection and correction procedures that will allow parent(s) of students to inspect, review and request corrections to the student’s education records upon written request.
  • Board Policy 6.604 Student Surveys, Analyses, and Evaluation – Due to the new requirements for student records policies under the 2014 Data Accessibility, Transparent and Accountability Act, it is necessary to adopt a new board policy regarding student surveys strictly prohibiting the collection of data regarding student political affiliation or voting history, religious practices, and firearm ownership.

**(Consent Agenda) These items are considered to be routine and non-controversial by the Board and will be approved by one motion. If any Board member objects to including an item on the consent agenda then that item shall become a separate action item for discussion.

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.

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