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Danville School Board – LIVE! (2/18/16)

SouthsideCentral was LIVE! at Thursday’s Danville School Board meeting. This article is now complete, and I hope you enjoy the recap.

Before the meeting, I publicly recognized Melissa Newton in front of the board for her assistance in factchecking some false data that had been posted on the Southside News & Views Facebook page.

We’re underway. Everyone is here tonight, with Terri Hall arriving a few minutes late.

Lori Cassada knows where the money is. Dolores Reynolds knows where the fashion style is, too.

Lori Cassada handles the financial reports.

Melissa Newton takes the podium and away she goes!

Melissa Newton is up next. She’s talking about the efforts to get Woodberry Hills get back to accredited status. She points out that the downslide of the school’s test scores happened during two principal changes, three academic officer changes and four different superintendents. Lori Cassada also said that four schools were also closed during the time period. The new administration and principal instituted changes, but they simply ran out of time to avoid the denied accreditation.

Parents are free to pull their children from Woodberry and put them in another city elementary school, but only one did that. After a month, those parents asked to go back to Woodberry. Stan Jones said less than five parents have made that choice since the accreditation was officially denied.

After a conversation with Melissa Newton, I was wrong on what I wrote above. Here’s the corrected version…

At the beginning of the year several families were offered the chance to go to a different school due to numbers and not to accreditation status. Currently, the system is not offering any moves. There is no policy at the division level or state level that says parents are guaranteed a move to a different school based upon accreditation ratings. The school system has had fewer than five parents ask about moving their children because of accreditation and they were told there was no policy to support the moves and that the division no longer has an opt-in program. That being said, the school system will respond to each of those situations as far as outcome individually. Newton has not yet gotten back to those parents with a final decision because she has to monitor class size limitations at every school by grade level.

Newton & Jones say that the mandated consultants toured Woodberry and found none of the problems that they would normally find in denied accreditation schools. Jones says that shows that the changes implemented already at the school are making an impact.

Newton is very passionate in her discussion and it’s amazing to watch. She’s got this “Dammit, we’re making progress but we still got the ‘denied accreditation’ label and it’s not fair to the school and the system” attitude and she’d be right on that (if she actually said that).

The official Memorandum of Understanding doesn’t have to be locked in until November 1st, but the staff is getting it ready now.

Everybody is making it clear that Woodberry is a good school and kids are learning well, contrary to what it sounds like when you just read the labels assigned by the state.

Robin Owens explains the disciplinary numbers.

Robin Owens goes over the disciplinary report. Out of school suspensions continue to drop as the superintendent’s initiatives are working. That includes behavior intervention teams and the sending of the worst offenders to Langston. Robin’s disciplinary report isn’t attached to the agenda yet, but I’ll publish it once it’s available.

Chairman Ed Polhamus notes that when the school board handled discipline appeals exclusively, he felt that the students never were able to “get” that the board wanted to really help them. That’s changed since the principals can do the hearings themselves, call in resources and investigate things like family issues.

George Washington High School principal Randy Stokes talks about how changes have affected student life at GW.

George Washington High School principal Randy Stokes talks about how the new GW strategies are working. He says that the administrators are now able to pull potential troublemakers to the side into offices and head off trouble.

Whoops. I step out to refill my water bottle and R&B reporter Trevor Metcalfe leaves without saying goodbye. It is 8PM and he has to get his article in before deadline, though.

We move to the Human Relations segment of the meeting and Juliet Jennings is quick with her personnel recommendations that sail through with a 7-0 vote. She then takes a seat and Kathy Osborne joins her for the next presentation. There’s a school system employee who does all of the maintenance on child nutrition equipment. I refuse to use the overblown phrase of “child nutrition” and will say “cafeteria”. Heh. That employee just retired last week after over 25 years of experience and they’re trying to hire his replacement…but there’s a problem. The starting pay for that position is only around $13.50 an hour and the human relations department is never going to find somebody who’s certified at that pay grade. Kathy Osborne explains that they want to raise the pay grade of that job to something that’s more attractive and the board agrees. Boom. Done.

Kathy Osborne explains that the system isn’t going to find a certified kitchen equipment mechanic for $13.50 an hour. Juliet Jennings is trying to hide behind Dolores Reynolds but we still see her!

Just for that, we sneak around to the other side of the room to get a different angle photo. Heh.

After that’s done, Andy Thacker makes his recommendations for awarding the contract for school psychological services and the board approves his recommendations.

Andy Thacker is the last person to present to the board tonight.

And that’s it. We’re done here. Let’s throw in a few bonus photos before we finish up…

Good seats were still very much available for this school board meeting. The final attendance count was one citizen, zero parents.

And we’ll end with this one just because we can…

This is Photoshop proof that SouthsideCentral hearts Juliet Jennings.

That’s it! Again! Thanks for reading the most comprehensive recap of Thursday’s Danville School Board meeting.

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