The Madison County School Board met Tuesday, Nov. 3 at 6 p.m. At the start of a meeting, a parent took to the podium for public input and informed the board that her eight-year-old son is in need of an emergency transfer, and that he originally attended school in Lee but was transferred to Madison County Central School because of transportation issues. The parent requested that her son be transferred to a different school due to the fact that he is being continuously bullied and his grades are dropping because of it. The mother also added that her son is very depressed and dreads going to school. Superintendent Doug Brown agreed to look into the issues, as he had further questions. The items for recommended consent were all approved except for Item #5 for the Student Improvement Plans and with the request to change Item #4, Joint Use Agreement with Madison Academy to Joint Use Agreement with James Madison Preparatory High School. Superintendent Brown presented one staff trip to the board for two staff members to attend HR/personnel training in St. Petersburg Nov. 17-19. The approximate cost of the trip would be $500. The board approved this staff trip 4-0.
There were no student trips, so Brown moved on to the next item on the agenda: district transfer requests. The request was for one student from Suwannee County to be transferred to Madison County. This was approved by the board. Brown went over the SIG update with the board next, mentioning many things that were noticed, celebrated and wondered about by the individual observers at Madison County Central. The observers had several good things to say about MCCS, mentioning that the classrooms they entered had great student-teacher relationships, successful project-based learning and much more. It was also noticed that 80 percent of the students enrolled in Algebra passed the Algebra end of course exam. Some of the observers wondered about the use of centers, level of rigor in the classrooms and uneven applications. One member of the public expressed her concern with the level of rigor in ties with the SIG update. Brown assured her that the question of the level of rigor within assignments at school is a state-wide issue. The item up for discussion next on the agenda was the supplemental hours for after-school tutoring at MCCS that would cost approximately $60,000, with $6,000 of the cost going towards transportation for extended school hours. Tutoring will be held 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
15 teachers, one administrator and one secretary position were up for review at the meeting. Board member VeEtta Hagan was concerned about the tutoring methods and informed Brown that the tutoring would need to be monitored, as in her opinion, worksheets are not an effective method for learning. Members of the board as well as members of the public questioned why there needed to be a secretary position and asked why the administrator could not work as a secretary. There was much debate about the secretary. Karen Pickles informed Brown that she wanted more clarification on the administration and secretary duties before approval; as a result, the 15 teacher positions were approved of 3-1, with Hagan voting against. The administration and secretary positions were tabled for the next meeting. Willie Williams took the floor and asked the board for permission to advertise a principal and assistant principal pool in case of retirement or an emergency. Training would be given if needed. The board approved this request 4-0. Screened school volunteers and non-instructional positions were all approved of. There were no staffing table revisions. The personnel changes were approved of with the exception of the reading coach at MCCS and a terminated employee; the board approved the changes 3-1, with Hagan voting against.
When Pickles asked the duties of a reading coach, a member of the public expressed her disappointment. “I've been retired for three years and I know what a reading coach is,” said the woman. “I am concerned with the District 4 representative.” Chairman Kenny Hall struck the gavel to bring the level of discussion down. With that, she exited the meeting. Brown presented construction project updates and showed photos of the roof and front construction of MCHS during the meeting. He also announced that Andrea Krell of MCHS was awarded for her outstanding work as an instructor and will be attending a conference in San Diego. Attorney Tom Reeves told the board that the charter school filed an appeal and a response is in the works. He also informed the board that Christine Johnson, a former board member who was accused of fraud during her term, was suing for lost wages even though the charges were dismissed after her term ended. Reeves added that the situation was at no fault of the board because Governor Scott was the one who dismissed Johnson, but the board may be liable for two sets of salaries. The issue would be discussed further before coming to a decision on how to respond. The next meeting will be held Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 6 p.m. Members of the public are invited to attend.