01-31-2012 School Board Workshop
MISSION: TO SERVE EVERY STUDENT WITH EXCELLENCE AS THE STANDARD
The School Board of Brevard County, Florida met for a Board Workshop on Tuesday, January 31, 2012, at the Educational Services Facility, 2700 Judge Fran Jamieson Way, Viera, Florida. Notice of the meeting was advertised in The Eagle newspaper on Thursday, January 26, 2012. The affidavit of publication with a copy of the ad attached is filed in the Affidavit File in the Board Office.
1. Opening Excercises
Chairman Dr. Barbara Murray called the School Board workshop of January 31, 2012 to order at 9:04 a.m.
Chairman Murray mentioned to the staff and the viewing audience the reason for calling the workshop was to tie up loose ends without extending the school board meeting.
2. Roll Call
Members Present: Dr. Michael Krupp, Dr. Barbara Murray, Amy Kneessy, Karen Henderson, Karen Henderson
Pledge of Allegiance
3. Pledge of Allegiance
Chairman Barbara Murray led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Order of Business
4. Corridor Bussing
Dr. Krupp brought up the expense of corridor bussing especially during this time of short budgets and shortfall of tax revenue. He mentioned that it is an area that the Board needs to strongly look at and determine whether or not the district can continue to afford it.
Dr. Murray requested a verification on the amount that the district is currently spending on corridor bussing. Dr. Binggeli stated it is approximately 1.2 million.
After discussing what the surrounding counties have done with their corridor bussing program, each Board Member explained their personal viewpoint as it relates to corridor bussing.
Ms. Kneessy brought up the concern about being fair and equitable. She spoke about the schools that are ranked in the top ten in the state are our choice schools. Ms. Kneessy mentioned the families transporting their students and the traffic congestion that it would create.
Mr. Ziegler stated that he could not support cutting corridor bussing until that expense was cutting deeply into the classroom. He suggested asking all the families that are on the waiting list if bus service was a factor for their student attending that school. Mr. Ziegler requested placing that information on the application so that we could gage the interest of the applicants to determine whether the school has an enrollment issue.
Ms. Henderson disagreed that there would be a problem with enrollment at some of the schools, if corridor bussing was eliminated, due to the large number of students on the waiting list. She stated that families which are currently attending these choice programs are already being told that they have choice bussing now but may not continue in the future due to the potential budget cuts. Ms. Henderson agreed with adding the question on the application.
Dr. Murray stated that the question mentioned previously, should be on the application so the district has documented proof in writing that there is awareness of eliminating corridor bussing, if the Board ever has to make that decision. She also stated that she agreed with a little of what everyone said but stated that she is concerned on the impact that eliminating corridor bussing would have on redistricting.
Ms. Kneessy requested that transportation look at a reduction in corridor bussing instead of an all or nothing look into a reduced corridor bussing.
Dr. Binggeli stated that he is looking for direction from the Board since the current talk out of the legislature. He stated that there is 4 million the district is having to move from the operating budget to support our capital budget. Dr. Binggeli stated that we found out that a million will have to come out of the Board to FRS. He mentioned that it looks like we will have to be reducing the operating budget again and explained the three tier level cuts system as the district has used in the past several years. Tier One are the first items to be cut, Tier Two are items that we hope not to cut but if it is needed, and Tier Three is leave it alone unless we are in absolute collapse mode. Dr. Bingelli asked if the Board would each state which tier they would put corridor bussing as the budget deliberations begin.
The Board each gave the Superintendent direction on where they felt corridor bussing would fall in the tiered budget cutting system. Their responses are listed below:
Mr. Ziegler - 2, Ms. Kneessy - 2.5, Ms. Henderson - 2, Dr. Murray - 3, and Dr. Krupp - 2
Several Board Members stated that they would still need additional data to be comfortable in which tier corridor bussing would be placed.
5. Graduation Requirements
Ms. Kneessy opened this discussion by commenting that Brevard's graduation requirements far exceed the state requirements which she see as a good thing. Her concern is the cut scores, end of course exam, and the budget issues. She stated that one of the first things that she would like to look at is the requirement of having four social studies and four science credits. Ms. Kneessy suggested that the students have the four credits be a science or social studies.
Cyndi Van Meter, Associate Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction, clarified that in the upcoming Student Progression Plan, the fourth credit will become a science or a social studies until the districts financial situation improves.
Ms. Kneessy stated that with SSNP and the vocational programs, that the district is getting the best bang for the buck. She stated if there are single digit numbers of students in a program, that it may have to be included in the cuts, since the district is at a point that we will not be able to keep every program. Ms .Kneessy stated that she is not sure from the data that all of our programs are cost effective.
Dr. Krupp stated that he received an estimate of 2.6 million when dropping the credits to 24 for SSNP. He questioned why, with the budget situation being as it is, are we requiring our students to have two more credits then the Florida Department of Education requires.
Discussion ensued about cutting back credits, high schools students having a six period day and its effects on the electives, how the new state requirement of virtual school would effect these potential changes, planning periods and seven period day with one planning period.
The Board each gave the Superintendent direction on where they felt changing graduation requirements would fall in the tiered budget cutting system. Their responses are listed below:
Dr. Krupp - 3, Mr. Ziegler - 3, Ms. Kneessy - 2.5, Dr. Murray - 3, and Ms. Henderson - 3
It was noted that these numbers are not solid, since more data is needed to draw a final conclusion.
6. Internal Accounts vs. External Accounts
Dr. Krupp stated that his concern was having outside accounts with booster clubs because it predominately has been the problem more than internal accounts. He gave several examples from past experiences and suggested the district have a policy that any account, over a certain dollar amount, that will be generating funds in the name of the school, will have to be through the internal accounts through the school.
Dr. Murray stated that she does not wish to discourage our community for rallying behind our school. She requested that Harold Bistline, School Board Attorney, to address whether the Board has any control over requiring the booster clubs to have an internal account if the monies collected reach a certain threshhold.
Mr. Bistline stated that if a group is going to raise funds in the name of the school, the Board would have the authority to regulate, but whether you would want to is another matter. He stated that it could have a negative impact.
Dr. Murray stated that the norm is correct accounting practices. The norm is not abuse although there are enough cases that it raises some attention. She said the question that we have to ask ourselves whether it is worth alienating all these parent support groups.
Mr. Ziegler stated that depending on how it is structured, the goal would not be to hinder the parent groups but to help them to maintain control and accountability.
Dr. Murray requested a report be given to the Board on external/internal Accounting 101 so we know exactly what can be, what shouldn't be, what can't be, practices that the district has in place to ensure integrity, and what the other counties are doing.
Judy Preston, Associate Superintendent of Financial Services, reminded the Board that with additional responsibilities carries with it additional impact on all of the staff at the schools and at ESF.
Dr. Krupp felt that it would add more credibility to the fundraising groups. He stated that if the general public should know that every dollar that was solicited was going through a checks and balances and credibility.
Dr. Binggeli stated that there are different ways that you can give people credibility and comfort that the dollars that are raised are being spent appropriately. He explained when he was principal, the external accounts were audited externally.
Dr. Krupp stated that the audit was a good point.
Dr. Murray stated that the external audit might be the answer.
7. Data Accuracy
Ms. Henderson began the discussion by stating the concern of not having accurate data. She stated that while going through the redistricting, the schools were not identifying the students in the same way making it very difficult to make decisions without the accurate data. Ms. Henderson suggested that the district needs to work with our technology department because they understand the software and the data. She also pointed out all of the potential budget cuts are all data driven, having accurate data would be in the best interest of the students and the staff.
Ms. Kneessy mentioned that she does not have confidence in the data when making decisions. She noted that there is a theme with the Board that they still continue to question whether we are going in the right direction because the data that is given may or may not be accurate. Ms. Kneessy also noted that the Board is aware that people are handling two and three jobs, and if that is one of the reasons why the Board is getting inaccurate data, it has to be looked at as well. It is costing the district more in the long run?
Dr. Murray suggested that we match our potential budget cut tier list and match it up with the data that we currently have available and that which we do not have available.
Discussion ensued amongst the Board about what is needed and their expectations for the data being collected from the schools.
Dr. Murray requested that the staff take the cut list and make sure that we have a database for those potential cuts. Then the staff needs to meet and ask themselves, what kind of information we can draw from that data: have dialog early on with the School Board members.
Dr. Binggeli stated that the district is trying to address this concern with Race To The Top funds and some very hard working people to try to understand a system that works for us. He noted that it is the ad hoc questions that the Board is looking to get information from, and that is not always possible. The staff is doing their best to get the Board the quality data you need, when they need it.
Chairman Dr. Murray stated diplomatically to Dr. Binggeli that the Board really appreciates him defending his staff but when the Board makes a request, that request, we hope, will be taken seriously and immediate action will occur. She stated that she understands that we are in budget cuts and that there are limited people in departments but to do what the Board has asked and what Ms. Henderson has asked, as it relates to data accuracy, is in line with the Board's mission.
Mr. Ziegler voiced his concerns over using the FISH data and would like the district to develop our own measurements for our decision making purposes.
Ms. Henderson commented that the district is doing a great job on assessment data. She stated that she is talking bigger picture data because the Board is making the bigger picture long term district decisions.
8. Enforcement of Students Attending Schools
Ms. Kneessy brought the concerns of what she calls "boundary jumpers". She feels what the schools are asking for at registration as it relates to which students can and which students cannot attend certain schools is not tight enough. Ms. Kneessy would like to see a better process in place at registration to ensure proper placement. She mentioned having a hotline for people to call in to report others that are abusing the system and a requirement that everyone has to verify their address.
Dr. Beth Thedy, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services, stated that they have been working on new procedures as well as looking at all the documents that parents are having to fill out during registration. She also mentioned our current policy states that parents have to provide proof of residence upon initial entrance to Brevard Public Schools then at any other point, deemed necessary by the principal. Dr. Thedy informed the Board on the action that they are currently taking to rectify this concern.
Dr. Binggeli stated that it is very likely that we will be bringing back some potential recommendations that vary dramatically from the plan that the district has had in place.
Chairman Dr. Barbara Murray stated this Board is very good at standing by their own direction and standing by administrators when they are administering the Board's direction. She stated that worst thing that could happen to administration is when there is so much fallout from the community that the Board starts to roll over on the staff's recommendation. Dr. Murray mentioned to the Board that they will have to stand firm on this issue.
Dr. Krupp brought up the point of the out-of-areas and that there is only one person in Choice School department to ensure the data accuracy. He feels as though the locus of control has gone berserk because we have one person trying to do everything. Dr. Krupp stated that we might have to rethink about replacing some of the lost personnel.
9. Board Committees
Mr. Ziegler began the discussion on Board Committees. He stated that there are numerous committees of various sorts that gather to collect information and to give their opinion to the Board. Mr. Ziegler stated that he would like to know the various committees that bring data to the Board. He would like to know the make up of the committee, what their purpose is, who is on it, where they come from and what type of committee is it (Board, Superintendent or District). This would help us measure what type of information that the Board is receiving.
Ms. Henderson stated that she does not want to be a part of every committee. She mentioned when forming the committee that it would be helpful to have someone from the technology department on it that understands the data.
Ms. Kneessy cautioned the Board that we want oversight not micromanagement. She stated that although she would like to know the committees and their purpose, she is concerned about committees that are formed with people that already have a preconceived opinion before they even sit down to discuss the issue. Ms. Kneessy stated that a committee is only as effective as the committee members and would like to make sure that we have true representation. She wants to make sure that we have a broad range of individuals on committees so that we can have the best decisions. The Board does not want the same people and the same staff and the same parents on different committees.
Chairman Dr. Murray stated that direction from the Board is they would like to know when committees are developed, what is the purpose for the committee, composition of the committee, and qualification of the committee.
Dr. Binggeli asked for clarification on whether the Board wants to know about standing or ad hoc committees. The Board stated both. If it is a committee that it formed that the Board will need to make judgment on, the Board should know ahead of time about the committee.
10. Charter School Application Process
Mr. Ziegler started the communication about the approval and denial process of the Charter School Application process. He spoke about the district being limited by resources as the reason why we do not inform the charters of their deficiencies and give them time to correct their application. Mr. Ziegler restated a point that Dr. Krupp made about the School Choice department has a tremendous load. He feels as though we either need more resources in that department or disperse some of the responsibility such as out-of-area placement.
Dr. Binggeli stated that there are some school districts that bring their charter school applications directly to the board. He stated that we do presentations for anybody that is proposing an application. This presentation shows them what needs to be in the application and what the law requires. There are some charters that take advantage and some do not. Dr. Binggeli stated the approach serves the district well and provides the vigilance that this Board and this organization should have before we allow them to teach the children that we are obligated to serve.
Vicki Mace, Director of School Choice, pointed out that the application review team has great expertise from Finance, Curriculum & Instruction to Testing & Accountability. She stated that when the team gives detailed information to the charter applicant, in which they invested an enormous amount of time, and they ignore the recommendations, it is bothersome to the group.
Chairman Dr. Barbara Murray stated that we have an excellent process in place. We have training, we have opportunities in place, and we will guide them in writing the plans. She stated this reminds her of the student that never comes to class then wishes to have extra credit.
Harold Bistline, School Board Attorney, addressed the reason that we do not allow redoing the application within the same year. He stated that Ms. Mace and her team do an amazing job in the time frame alloted. Mr. Bistline also stated that the districts do not get a lot of support from the Florida Department of Education. He noted that there is a model application that DOE puts out which has required information in it. Some of the applications that Brevard has received is lacking the required information.
Mr. Bistline also requested that the Board look at a segment of what happened when Ms. Mace and himself went to Tallahassee for the Charter School appeals. He stated that Brevard did not have a chance. He stated that the Chairman chastised Brevard County before we even got on our feet for not being charter friendly and treating the applicants right. Mr. Bistline stated that he disputed all that was said against us.
Ms. Henderson commented that our current process serves us well along with those that are putting forth an application. She mentioned to Ms. Mace her confidence in her and her team and that they looked at the application thoroughly and given the it some serious thought. Ms. Henderson stated that she feels that out process is fine.
Ms. Kneessy stated that this Board does not always take the easy path especially when there is no support coming from Tallahassee or Washington. She stated that we are doing the right thing for the children and not for the charter business that wants to come in and make a fast buck.
Dr. Murray commented on the type of application is a reflection of the type of management style that they emulate. She stated that we would not accept that sloppy and incomplete type of work from our building principals; why would we accept it from a charter school? Dr. Murray stated that Ms. Mace does a good job and agreed with Mr. Ziegler that we need to revisit the resources in that office at some point.
Dr. Binggeli stated that we have already engaged in discussion of relieving her from some of her duties.
Mr. Ziegler stated that he did not agree that all the denials were based on a shoddy application. He stated that his biggest point was the resource limitation in Ms. Mace's office and what is the progression plan for her.
Dr. Murray stated that is beyond progression, it becomes a cross-training issue.
11. Board Meeting Space
Dr. Murray began the discussion as it relates to the Board meeting space. She stated that she was very disappointed to come in to find out that the Board had no space to meet with constituents. Dr. Murray noted that it was a done deal which had no Board input. Board Members have begun to voice concern over not having a meeting space because there are many times, especially during redistricting, that the community members wish to meet with us.
Dr. Murray spoke for the Board in stating that the School Board members want their space back, so get it done. She commented that is not a good place for the studio and their needs to be some collaboration with Facilities to return that room back to the Board.
Ms. Kneessy stated that was the final of where the School Boards value was at when they lost that space.
Dr. Binggeli asked for clarification whether the Board wished for any room in the building or the room that they had previously occupied. The Board were all in agreement that they wished to have the room they had previously occupied, which is adjacent to the Board's administrative assistant.
Ms. Kneessy also commented that she would like to have the sign in the front of the building moved because you cannot read the sign.
Discussion ensued as it related to the movement and cost of the sign. Ms. Henderson was concerned with the $2000. expense.
Dane Theodore, Associate Superintendent of Facilities, explained the reason for the high cost is the double sided sign with the concrete base.
Ms. Kneessy commented that it is important that our constituents know where it find us. The Board agreed for the signed to be changed with the exception of Ms. Henderson due to the cost factor.
12. Outliers - Policies
Chairman Dr. Murray stated this section of the workshop should not take that much time since they are items that have been left hanging.
Mr. Ziegler brought up the concern of our policies being redundant to state statute.
Dr. Murray asked the Board attorney what the value of having our own policies are when you get into administrative hearings and things of that nature.
Mr. Bistline stated that consultants (Neola) are advising the district that under the administrative procedure act, that they recommend you adopt the state law and implement it through a policy. He stated that there are certainly policies that should be in place so they are known by the people that work for you, your constituents and your parents. Mr. Bistline state there needs to be some discretion on which policies the district adopts and give the example of the importance of the Whistle blower policy. He stated that people are not going to look for the information in the state statute books.
Mr. Bistline stated that policies that affect the employees, what you expect of them, standards and students need to be in policy so they can look at them on the website.
After discussion about policies and how they are currently handled at staff level. The Board agreed that the district should maintain their current practices on handling new/revised policies brought forth from the Neola consultant.
13. Outliers - Drug Dog
Chairman Dr. Barbara Murray stated that early on Andrea Alford, Director of District Security, gave the Board a written report and we are waiting on a plan to implement.
Ms. Alford stated that she has the final sweep implementation plan but was waiting until the criminal case, which is currently pending in the U.S. Supreme Court, has been decided, This is per Dr. Murray's direction.
Ms. Alford informed the Board that she will monitor the court cases so that when they are resolved we can move forward with utilizing the canines. Whether it is a sweep or just their presence on the high school campuses.
Mr. Bistline gave further explanation on the pending court case which should be decided by this summer.
Mr. Ziegler interjected that he is not sure that this applies because we, in his opinion, do not want to be catching and punishing kids just to convince them that they do not want to bring it to campus.
Dr. Murray stated that when students are caught, we will have to have them arrested. If the Board is going to implement this, we will have to be prepared to see it through all the way.
Ms. Alford noted that in a letter from the State' s Attorney Office, as a precautionary measure, recommended that the district does not implement this at this time, due to the pending criminal cases, because it could lead to an arrest.
Dr. Binggeli stated that it will lead to an arrest. He asked for clarification from the Board what their direction will be once the court cases are decided.
Discussion ensued amongst the Board as it relates to the sweeping the campuses with drug dogs and the types of drugs that the dogs can alert on. Mr. Bistline stated that Supreme Court should rule on this case by June.
The Board decided to hold off on a final decision until the court case is decided. At that time, the Board will discuss this matter and give direction on which way to proceed.
Chairman Dr. Barbara Murray thanked Ms. Alford for putting this information together but brought up the timeliness. She stated that we have an issue that the Board had to wait months to get any information when the Board requested the information within a month's time. Dr. Murray encouraged Dr. Binggeli to have his staff pay closer attention to the Board's timeline request.
14. Outliers - Communication Plan
Chairman Dr. Barbara Murray pointed out that when the Board makes requests for any documents and it drags on for months, and in the case of the Communication Plan, years. The issue is no longer the document itself, it becomes a total disregard towards a Board directive. The Board takes that very, very seriously at all levels. The Board received the Communication Plan in an email last night and a hard copy of the document as we arrived at the workshop.
Dr. Murray stated that Dr. Binggeli shared with the Board that he had met and discussed with Christine Davis, Director of District Communications, the direction that he wanted her to proceed. He is taking some responsibility for this, but two years is absolutely unexceptible. Dr. Murray suggested that the Board not even discuss the Communication Plan before they have a chance the read it. The Board was in full agreement.
Mr. Ziegler brought up another area that has not been resolved and lingering for over a year is student public records. He stated that it was presented at a School Board meeting by Ms. Davis but no definitive decisions have been made by the Board as to what they wish to restrict.
Ms. Davis stated she is putting together a report on what has changed in FERPA law. Dr. Murray said to get the report to the Board within thirty days.
Mr. Ziegler stated the information on student public records will need to be defined and get into print for the next school year. Ms. Davis stated that she will need to redefine and rewrite Policy 8330 and that she is working with Beth Thedy, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services.
15. Outliers - Deadline(s)
Mr. Ziegler stated that this was covered directly and indirectly throughout segments of the workshop.
16. Lacrosse Update
Dr. Beth Thedy stated that the purpose of this agenda item is the potential inability of forming a girls lacrosse team in at least one of our schools. She stated that she consulted with Mr. Bistline, gone through all of the Title IX requirements, spoken with the Department of Education, and an attorney for the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) Arm, who informed her that the district would be in compliance for a three pronged test for Title IX if a school could not get a girls lacrosse team together. If the school does all that is required to meet at least one prong then it is in compliance, this school will be on prong two.
Dr. Thedy stated that she is bringing this to the attention of the Board because the way the contract is being interpreted by some is that the school has to have a boys and a girls club or nothing at all.
Dr. Binggeli stated that this contract played out publicly and based on the recommendation that we received that the district does not wish to deny the boys their opportunity. He stated that we did not wish to move forward because of the verbiage in the contract.
Dr. Murray stated the intent was that you cannot fund a boys team without the girls team if the interest was there.
Mr. Bistline noted that he would take another look at the language in the contract for he also interpreted it as Dr. Murray stated previously.
Dr. Krupp would like the contract rewritten because he does not agree with changing a contract in midstream because of on OCR ruling. He also felt that it was very specific. If you don't have both, girls and boys team, you do not have any teams.
Mr. Bistline will reread the contract and make any clarifications if needed.
17. Closing Remarks
Chairman Dr. Barbara Murray thanked the Board for their participation and the good discussion.
Minutes: The School Board workshop was adjourned at 11:09 a.m.