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School Board holds first meeting of October

The Madison County School Board met on Tuesday, October 6 at 6 p.m. Chairman Kenny Hall added two amendments to the agenda: 17a, which was a staff trip, and 19a, which involved discussion on an electronic flyer app called Peachjar. After the consent agenda and added items were approved, construction project updates were discussed first. Walker Vidak from Allstate Construction took to the podium and announced that the high school has many construction updates, including new parking spots, patched asphalt and the completion of signage. As a part of Amendment GNP3C, the site water, along with the water tanks on site also need to be worked on. The board approved Amendment GNP3C. Vidak reported that Phase II of construction of the high school in the south wing, cafeteria and kitchen have already been completed. Phase I, the north wing of the school, is anticipated to be completed by December 7. The roof framing is up, and the sheet metal will most likely be put up in the next week, according to Vidak. There were two staff trips up for discussion.

The first staff trip mentioned involved a grant writing workshop in Tallahassee. Two people will be attending that event. The next staff trip up for discussion was for four math teachers of MCHS to attend the North Florida Community College Math Summit on Friday, October 23. These staff trips were both approved. Superintendent Doug Brown announced that there were three student trips out of the county to be approved. The Pre-K and Kindergarten class of Pinetta Elementary will be attending a field trip to Suwannee Valley Agricultural Center on November 4. The third grade students of Lee will be going to the Madison Courthouse on December 8 to tour the facility, have a mock trial and participate in Light Up Madison. The last trip up for approval was the MCHS Senior Class trip to Orlando for the Annual Gradbash at Universal Studios on April 29, 2016. 75 students and 10 chaperones will be attending. The student trips were all approved. The next item on the agenda up for discussion was the Edgenuity Contract. Edgenuity, Inc. has developed a blended learning program agreement of a combination of online and face-to-face learning virtually, with teachers monitoring and teaching different courses through the internet. The cost of this would be $225 per semester course enrollment; if a student fails a class, the school loses $225 and has to spend money for the student to be taught this course again. Brown urged the board to approve these blended courses, stating that by taking blended courses, students will be “college ready” and that online learning is “the future of education.” Members of the board all agreed that if students were given blended courses, there needs to be elaborate and in-depth instructions to the parents so they can make sure to help their child stay on track with their assignments. The board approved this 4-1, with Kenny Hall voting against.

19a, the next item on the agenda, sparked much discussion. Brown announced that because paper flyers were not the most effective method of delivering news to parents, there would be another form of communication arising called Peachjar. Peachjar is a system that sends digital flyers used by the schools to parents through their smart phones or emails. These e-flyers must be approved by the district before being sent out and would allow the school to save money on paper and help the environment. The first year of the program is free granted that there are enough sponsors to fund the e-flyer deliveries, as there is a fee ranging from $12.50-$25 to have announcements delivered through Peachjar. “This will open the door to community engagement that we haven't seen before,” said Brown. Hagan was concerned that this would become the only form of communication and that parents would become “too comfortable” with Peachjar and neglect checking their students' backpacks for flyers. While Brown informed Hagan that this would not be the only form of communication, the board opposed Peachjar, 5-0. Karen Pickles commented that she opposed Peachjar due to “lack of information.” Next, Ida Walker took the stand and requested permission to advertise the 2015-2016 Student Progression Plan. Pickles and Alford asked Walker if revisions could be made to the plan; both board members felt that the 120+ paged document seemed redundant in some places. A workshop was held on Monday, October 12 at 6 p.m. to discuss these revisions. After the scheduled workshop date was approved, Felecia Moss announced the SIG updates. The first instructional review was successfully completed in Greenville on September 24. MCCS will be having their review on November 4. With no other questions, the board moved on to the next item on the agenda: the financial reports for months ending June 30, July 31 and August 31 of this year. This was tabled for the next meeting as Ray Griffin was absent. These financial reports, along with September's report, will be presented in the next meeting. Willie Williams presented the screened school volunteers, personnel changes and staffing table revisions.

All 24 of the screened school volunteers were all approved. Williams informed the board that there is one non-instructional position at MCCS, one at Madison DJJ and one at Pinetta Elementary. There is one employee at MCCS and one employee at Lee Elementary requesting leave. MCCS also has two interns and there were two substitutes up for approval. The board approved all of these personnel changes. Williams then moved on to the staffing table revisions for non-instructional staff. Madison County added two paraprofessionals, while Lee, Greenville and Pinetta all added one paraprofessional. These revisions were all approved by the board. Williams also asked the board for permission to advertise a part-time position for a cafeteria worker; the board approved this request. To finish off the meeting, Brown had many topics to discuss. He commented that the APTT meeting at MCCS had “ a nice turnout.” Test scores arrived for the county as well. “[There were a lot of] bright spots but [there are] still many areas to address,” said Brown. Greenville's test scores showed a lot of improvement, and Lee and Pinetta had scores almost totally above state average. MCCS EOC scores and Algebra I test scores and the Algebra II test scores for MCHS were all “exceptional.” Brown also told the board that the earliest time that grades for the school will be issued will be in January, but these grades will more than likely be issued in February or March. “We got some students in the county that [have made the] 98th percentile,” added Brown as he spoke more about testing scores. The town attorney concluded the meeting with an announcement that the district no longer owns the hospital. With no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 7:15 p.m. The next meeting will be held Tuesday, October 20 at 6 p.m.

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