By Christina Fowler
In a five to four split, the State Board of Education voted on Friday to open up the Little Rock School District (LRSD) Personnel Policy Committee (PPC) to include representatives from each building within the district. This overturns a decision the board voted on in October to establish a PPC that includes three members of administration appointed by the district, and eight certified members voted for by LRSD staff.
“I really feel like to have one person specifically in each building, with a voice, to be able to come back to a district in a PPC meeting and share their feelings is really important. There are 30 buildings in Springdale and each building had a representative and it worked very well. I fell like the teachers felt every building had a voice. Every building has a different culture,” Kathy McFetridge, board member, who made the motion to expand the PPC said.
Prior to Friday’s meeting, LRSD moved forward with the October recommendation and the nomination round was completed by the third-party consultant with more than 250 applications submitted.
LRSD Superintendent Mike Poore raised concerns about modifying the process already in place to establish the LRSD PPC.
“The amount of interest has been positive in terms of people stepping up to say they would like to participate. If we amend the contract right now, you are looking at an additional expense and the reality we will not have a PPC in place to start in January, because we would have to go back and start the process all over again and reengage to do the elections in a whole different way,” Poore said.
Board members who voted in favor of the motion were Dr. Sarah Moore, Brett Williamson, Kathy McFetridge, Chad Pekron, and Diane Zook. Those against were Charisse Dean, Susan Chambers, Dr. Fitz Hill, and Ouida Newton.
The board decided to table items number 13 a and c from Thursday afternoon’s agenda. Instead, it will host a work session to further discuss and flesh-out details for the expansion of the Community Advisory Board and the draft Memorandum of Understanding, and vote on the items at the Board’s December meeting.
Board Member Chad Pekron said prior to public comment, “I thought it was unfortunate that it [the Memorandum of Understanding] came out when it did because this MOU is not what I had envisioned last month when I made my motion. When I made the motion to return the board to local control with an MOU, what I had in mind was a few, albeit obviously big-picture items, but other than that it truly would be local control.”
“What I see is an MOU with a few what I’ll call guardrails. I think at some point we have to give this district a clear set of ideas. We need to have a very clear, understandable set of exit criteria,” Pekron added.
On Thursday afternoon, the board also received updates on possible options for establishing nine LRSD board member zones and a timeline, as well as proposed changes to LRSD’s attendance zones.
Southern Arkansas University’s (SAU) Mulerider Learning Educators Advanced Practicum (LEAP) was provided the approval to expand their program to partner with Camden-Fairview, El Dorado, Lafayette and Paris School Districts. The program allows a partner district to apply for long-term substitute waivers to enable SAU student teachers to serve as long-term substitutes and/or para-professionals for the district during their final semester of student teaching prior to graduation.
“We have piloted the program in Magnolia with two teachers, and it has gone really well.” Neelie Dobbins, SAU Chair of Teacher Education. “Both candidates have been offered teaching positions to start in January.”
The board overturned the PLSB’s recommendation to revoke the teaching license of Haley Diane Widby after they found the complaint had to be dismissed due to a lack of timeliness as set forth in state law.
Final approval was given to the following rules:
- DESE Rules Governing Public School Choice
- DESE Rules Governing the Regulatory Basis for Accounting
- DESE Rules Governing the Arkansas Educational Support and Accountability Act
- DESE Rules Governing Test Security, Testing Violations, and Testing Improprieties
- DESE Rules Governing Class Size and Teaching Load
The following were approved for release for public comment pending Governor’s approval:
- DESE Rules Governing Kindergarten through 12th grade immunization requirements in Arkansas Public Schools
- DESE Rules Governing Student Discipline and School Safety
- DESE Rules Governing Special Education and Related Services, Sec. 11.00 Discipline Procedures
- DESE Rules Governing Special Education and Related Services, Sec. 18.00 Residential Placement
- Repeal of DESE Rules Governing Special Education and Related Services, Sec. 22.00 Home Schooling
- Repeal of DESE Rules Governing Special Education and Related Services, Sec. 23.00 Testing Assessment and Accountability Program/Academic Distress
- Repeal of DESE Rules Governing Special Education and Related Services, Sec. 27.00 Charter Schools
- Repeal of DESE Rules Governing Special Education and Related Services, Sec. 28.00 Uniform Grading Scales
In other business on Thursday:
- The board approved a resolution designating December 9 through 15, 2019 as Arkansas Computer Science Education Week. To view the resolution, click here.
- North Little Rock School District’s request for an Act 1240 waiver in order to expand its Opportunity Culture program was approved.
- Haas Hall Academy’s Diversity and Inclusion Report was approved upon the condition that the school provide measurable goals.
- All Charter Authorizing Panel decisions from their October 15th meeting were approved with no further review.
Morning agenda item number six, and consent agenda items four and five were pulled. Consent items numbers 4 and 5 will be reviewed at next month’s meeting. All other consent agenda items were approved.