The Durham Public Schools Board of Education held its regular monthly meeting on Thursday, December 15, 2011, at 6:30 p.m. in the Fuller Administration Building, 511 Cleveland Street, Durham, North Carolina.
Board members present: Minnie Forte-Brown, Chair; Heidi Carter, Vice Chair; Natalie Beyer; Leigh Bordley; Nancy Cox; and Omega Curtis Parker. Pastor Fredrick Davis was absent.
Administrators present: Dr. Eric J. Becoats, Superintendent; Dr. Lewis Ferebee, Chief of Staff; and Eunice Sanders, Assistant Superintendent of Support Services
Attorney present: Ann Majestic
Call to Order/Moment of Silence
Chairman Forte-Brown called the meeting to order and extended a warm welcome to everyone. She read the following statement:
Tonight’s agenda promises to be rich in information that will support and enhance our vision statement. Standing committees of the board will present information and reports that will keep you informed on what the district is doing to ensure that our vision of success for every child is realized.
The Board invites public comment at the beginning of the board meeting and before each agenda item. Board members will carefully listen to and consider the comments from the public but the board does not engage in a discussion with speakers.
Thank you for taking this time to join us. We’re glad to have you with us.
A moment of silence was observed.
Chairperson Forte-Brown stated that Pastor Davis was invited to join President Obama at the White House; therefore, he was unable to attend tonight’s board meeting.
Be Our Guest
Ms. Bordley recognized and welcomed the parents of Sandy Ridge Elementary School, E. K. Powe Elementary School, Bethesda Elementary School, Eno Valley Elementary School, Shepard Middle School, Hillside High School, and City of Medicine Academy. She invited all parents present to come forward to meet the board members and walk the red carpet in recognition of their support and involvement with Durham Public Schools (DPS).
Superintendent Becoats made the following introductions:
Duke University’s DPS Students of the Week—This program spotlights students who distinguish themselves with character and integrity. The following students were featured over the past month in The Herald-Sun: Rachel McGirt, Jordan High School; Mari Dew, Githens Middle School; Jermaine Massey, Jordan High School; Tabitha Gaddy, Durham School of the Arts (DSA); and Kayla Brown, Carrington Middle School.
School principals were on hand to introduce and share comments about their students. Parents were recognized and all were invited to walk the red carpet.
Finance Department Earns High Honors: Durham Public Schools has been awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) and the Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting by the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO) for its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). These certificates are the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting. The CAFR met the high standards of both programs that include demonstrating a constructive "spirit of full disclosure" to clearly communicate its financial story, motivating potential users and user groups to read the CAFR as well as measuring the integrity and technical competence of the finance staff.
Chief Financial Officer, Carolyn Olivarez, accepted the award and recognized specific staff members who were instrumental in achieving this award. She thanked the entire finance department for working together as a team.
Superintendent Becoats provided the following updates:
- On November 21st, Dr. Becoats concluded a series of meetings with teachers throughout the district when he met with high school teachers at Riverside High School. In communication with the Durham Association of Educators, Administration will follow-up with correspondence to all teachers about the themes that were discussed and some actions to be taken. Additional meetings will be scheduled for next semester to continue ongoing conversation with teachers throughout the district.
- On November 30th, the first Budget Advisory Committee meeting was held. Information will be posted on the website to keep everyone informed during the budget process.
- On December 7th, Dr. Becoats and Dr. Julie Spencer visited middle schools. Dr. Becoats highlighted the visit to Lowe’s Grove Middle School which has started iPad integration. Dr. Becoats shared that it was phenomenal to see students engaged and interacting with teachers – good things are happening as a result of implementing this initiative …. Hats off to Principal Kirkpatrick.
- On December 8th, Administration shared DPS’ technology standards with all principals. Dr. Becoats stated that a study of every school has been conducted to highlight where they are in relation to the standard. The baseline audit indicated that $9 million dollars was needed to support this effort. Administration will provide to the board a recommendation on how to fund this initiative. Dr. Becoats stated that Administration expects to meet the technology standards in every school no later than January 2013.
- The next media briefing is scheduled for Wednesday, December 21, 2011.
- In January 2011, the DPS Strategic Plan was launched. On January 25, 2012, the State of the Schools – Seeing is Believing is scheduled at 5:30 p.m. at the Riverside High School auditorium. Dr. Becoats stated that it was important to articulate what has been accomplished over the course of last year.
- Dr. Becoats recognized Mr. Jeff Nash, interim chief communications officer, and Ms. Julie Marshall, communications coordinator. Dr. Becoats thanked Mr. Nash for his leadership and support during the transition period to name a chief communications officer of Public Affairs.
In closing, Dr. Becoats read the following:
Sixty years ago, the sitting Board of Education for the Durham City Schools found itself in federal district court defending against a lawsuit filed by a group of influential black citizens. The case of Blue v. Durham Schools had been brought forth in 1949 in order to equalize the funding that the sitting Board of Education was providing for white and black schools.
One of your own current school board members was among the original plaintiffs in the lawsuit when it was filed in 1949. The list of plaintiffs shows that Omega Curtis (now Parker) was among the historic plaintiffs who helped to change the face of education and civil rights in Durham and across the South in the pre-Brown era of “separate-but-equal.”
Dr. Becoats invited everyone to attend the commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of Blue v. Durham on Sunday, December 18, 2011, at 3:00 p.m. at the Haiti Heritage Center located at 804 Old Fayetteville Street.
Dr. Becoats recognized board member, Ms. Omega Curtis Parker.
Agenda Review and Approval
On a motion made by Ms. Carter, second by Ms. Parker; the agenda was unanimously approved as presented.
General Public Comment: None
- E.K. Powe Elementary School – Bids for Renovation
- Proposed Board Policy 5420 – Teacher Evaluations and Improvement Plans – Second Reading
- School Improvement Grant – Lenovo Lease for Hillside High School
- A Resolution Calling Upon the US Government and President Obama to Bring Our War Dollars Home and Reorder Our Priorities Now
Chairman Forte-Brown noted that all Consent Agenda items were thoroughly discussed in committee.
On a motion by Ms. Bordley, second by Ms. Carter; the Consent Agenda was unanimously approved.
Reports of the Board of Education
- 2012 National School Boards Association (NSBA) Resolutions and Amendments
Public Comment: None
Chairperson Forte-Brown presented this item for information.
Chairperson Forte-Brown serves as vice chair of the Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE). CUBE represents 121 school districts nationwide and is an affiliate of the National School Boards Association (NSBA). CUBE addresses the programmatic, fiscal, and governance challenges of urban public education. CUBE has put forth four resolutions which will be submitted to the NSBA for approval:
- Support for Federal Efforts to Reduce Poverty
- Comprehensive Tobacco-Free Schools
- Sustain Support for the DREAM Act
- 2012 National Elections
Chairperson Forte-Brown stated that she and Natalie Beyer, the board’s federal liaison, will travel to Washington, DC in February to meet with legislators to promote these resolutions.
Chairperson Forte-Brown read each resolution and provided rationale.
Reports of the Committees
- Administrative Services, Natalie Beyer, Chair
- Redistricting for Board of Education Elections
Public Comment: None
Mr. Hugh Osteen and Attorney Deborah Stagner presented this item for action.
Ms. Stagner stated that upon review of the 2010 census data, it was determined that the population of the districts of the Board of Education were out of balance and needed to be redrawn as mandated by federal and state law.
Ms. Stagner explained that two redistricting plans – Alternative 1 and Alternative 2 – were developed for the board’s consideration. Both plans will bring the districts into balance and satisfy legal requirements. She noted that there was opportunity for public input, but none was received.
Ms. Stagner briefly discussed the proposed plans. Maps and background information had been provided to the board. Key points:
- Both plans move Precinct 21 from District 4 to District 1.
- Alternative 1 – Precinct 4 is moved from District 3 to District 2
- Alternative 2 – Precinct 40 is moved from District 3 to District 2
- Both alternatives leave all incumbent board members in the same districts.
To complete the process, the board must select an option and approve the resolution adopting it. This will be turned over to the Board of Elections in order to inform voters.
Ms. Bordley made a motion to approve Alternative 1; second by Vice Chair Carter. The motion was seconded by Ms. Bordley and passed unanimously.
Vice Chair Carter made a motion to adopt the Resolution Adopting New Election District Boundaries as depicted on maps entitled “DPS Board of Education Alternative 1” and as recommended by Administration. The motion was seconded by Ms. Bordley and passed unanimously.
B. 2010-2011 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report
Public Comment: None
Ms. Carolyn Olivarez presented this item for action. She stated that Mr. Leon Rives, CPA and partner in Rives and Associates Certified Public Accounting, presented the audited financial statements to the Administrative Services Committee on December 6. Mr. Rives also answered questions from the board members present at that meeting.
At the request of the committee, Ms. Olivarez summarized the information shared by Mr. Rives and provided highlights:
- The auditors’ opinion is an unqualified opinion which indicates a “clean” audit.
- There was also an unqualified opinion on internal controls and the audit conducted under strict A133 guidelines resulted in NO AUDIT FINDINGS and NO QUESTIONED COSTS out of almost $400 million.
- The report indicates a positive child nutrition result as well as a positive fund balance position. Unassigned fund balance in the local current expense fund is $12.8 million compared to 3 years ago when it was $800,000.
- The Administration worked closely with finance to aggressively seek additional funding and to control or defer costs to prepare the school system to weather the funding cliffs anticipated for this year, 2011-2012, and next year, 2012-2013. The Board of Education committed $6.4 million of fund balance for the 2011-12 school year and this is reflected in the financial statements as “committed fund balance.”
Ms. Olivarez requested the board to accept the audit report for 2010-201l which will allow Administration to submit it to the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) as well as the Association of School Business Officials (ASBO) for review for reward status next year.
Chairperson Forte-Brown emphasized the good news with regard to the fund balance and Vice Chair Carter thanked the finance department, noting that this is the first audit with no audit findings and no questioned costs.
Ms. Parker made a motion to accept the 2010-2011 Comprehensive Financial Report. Ms. Bordley seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
- Magnet Program and Student Assignment Proposal
Public Comment: Eleven speakers were allotted 3 minutes each.
- Jasmine Grays, Hillside High School senior, thanked the board for slowing down the magnet school process so that the community has more time to provide input into the process.
- Dorothy Nam, Hillside High School IB student, thanked the board for slowing down the magnet school process. Her concern was whether another IB school program could achieve success with diversity. She suggested that all proposals be shared with the entire community before building the new middle school.
- Davian McDonald, senior at Hillside, thanked the board on behalf of parents and students for slowing down the magnet school process. He suggested using school improvement teams as an instrument for informationgathering and exchange.
- Bryan Proffitt, Hillside teacher and chair of the School Improvement Team, explained why he thought the board should use the improvement teams in the decision-making process. He encouraged moving forward with more input from stakeholders.
- Marissa Schroot, ESL teacher at Holt Elementary, thanked the board for slowing down the decision-making process. She pointed out that the DPS Strategic Plan – One Vision One Durham illustrates the need to involve the community in helping to provide a quality education for all students. She encouraged keeping this in mind when decisions are made. She also suggested that future decisions that impact the community, students and teachers should include input from the school improvement teams.
- Kimberly Rodriguez, student at Riverside High School, thanked the board for slowing down the process and providing more time for input. She encouraged the board to consider using the school improvement teams, to improve and expand communication in Spanish and to think about the question: Is adding a new IB programme really promoting diversity? She also shared her comments in Spanish.
- Kellyn Valladares, student at Riverside, thanked the board for slowing down the process. She commented that more time is needed for the school improvement teams to spread the word and allow more people to be involved.
- Courtney Prince thanked the board for slowing down the process. He felt that Lucas Middle School should be an IB school because of the great opportunities for success in life.
- Manny Rodriguez, junior at Hillside, thanked the board for slowing down the decision-making process. He felt that non-English speaking parents would be more involved if communication from the schools were in Spanish.
- Angela Jeter, DPS employee and parent of a WG Pearson Middle School student shared that as she and a social worker visited the school and the neighborhood, she thought about the plans being contemplated and proposed for WG Middle. She felt that closing the school would be another void for the community. She hoped that more information would be forthcoming so that parents can make a decision about alternatives and provide feedback to the principal.
- Steve Bumgardner shared his concernsabout opening Lucas Middle School. He felt the school should not be opened as a magnet school.
Chairperson Forte-Brown thanked all the speakers. She asked Dr. Becoats to present the latest proposal and answer questions that have been posed to Administration.
Dr. Becoats shared several areas of research that point to the fact that diversity does matter:
- The National School Boards Association, College Board and Education Counsel established a report entitled Achieving Educational Excellence for All: A Guide to Diversity-Related Policy Strategies for School Districts.
- The Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University published an article written by Professor William Darity that promoted strong curriculum programs for all students – not just some students – and shows how this benefits all students from an educational standpoint.
- A New York Times article written by Helen Ladd and Edward Fiske entitled Class Matters and Why Won’t We Admit It.
Dr. Becoats spoke in detail when addressing these questions: 1) What has Administration done to address equity? 2) What has Administration done in reference to middle school reform? 3) Timing – Why is it necessary to take action? He addressed each question individually and provided actions, programs, and reasons related to what the Administration has done to address each.
As requested, Dr. Becoats shared two e-mails he received today related to W.G. Pearson Middle School.
Dr. Becoats noted that answers were provided to the twenty-one questions submitted to Administration by the board.
Dr. Becoats shared the following Administration recommendations:
Lucas Middle School
Recommendation: Administration recommends Option A – Lucas Middle will open with a 70% base district and 30% IB. Dr. Becoats explained the rationale for the recommendation.
The board members had full discussion on this option and shared their thoughts and concerns on a variety of aspects regarding the IB programme including costs, resources, transportation issues, and the lottery process.
Dr. Becoats recognized the financial implications, but pointed out that the failure of the district to create diverse and innovative environments will continue to encourage parents to go to our competition.
Vice Chair Carter made a motion to approve Option B, seconded by Ms. Bordley.
Further discussion by the board included: Chairperson Forte-Brown explained why she could not support Option B. At Ms. Cox’s request, Donna Hudson, director of Student Assignment, explained the impact on Shepard Middle School. At Vice Chair Carter’s request, Dr. Becoats talked about the evidence that makes the IB programme worth the cost.
Chairperson Forte-Brown called for a vote. The motion to approve Option B passed 4-2. Chairperson Forte-Brown and Ms. Parker voted no.
Chairperson Forte-Brown stated that Lucas Middle School will open as a traditional middle school.
Chewning Middle School
Recommendation: Allow rising 8th grade students to remain at Chewning. Dr. Becoats explained the rationale.
Board discussion included an in-depth conversation about transfers into Carrington. The board determined that no action was necessary regarding suspending transfers into Carrington. Parameters are outlined in policy for use by the Administration in rendering transfer decisions as well as the board’s discretion to grant a transfer through the appeal process.
Ms. Bordley made a motion to accept the Administration’s recommendation to allow rising 8th graders to remain at Chewning; no new 6th graders will be accepted into Chewning; and rising 7th graders are assigned to their base school for the coming school year. The motion was seconded by Ms. Cox and passed unanimously.
Recommendation: Allow rising 7th and 8th graders to remain at W.G. Pearson. Dr. Becoats explained the rationale.
Board discussion included the advantages/disadvantages of closing Pearson and moving the students to Chewning, allowing Pearson students to attend any middle school they choose, keeping Pearson open for one or two years, and allowing 6th graders into Pearson.
Vice Chair Carter moved to accept Administration’s recommendation to allow rising 7th and 8th graders to remain at W.G. Pearson – to be reviewed in a year for feasibility. Ms. Beyer seconded the motion which passed unanimously.
Recommendation: Students entering in the IB Middle Years Programme in Grade 9 must meet all DPS Gateway Promotion Standards for Grade 8 as well as score a Level III on math and reading end-of-grade tests; must have earned at least a B average in Algebra I and received high school credit; must have received credit for Level I of a world language with at least a B average; must have fewer that five unexcused absences in the previous school year; must have no out-of-school suspensions in the previous year.
Students who continue in the IB Middle Years Programme must attend a summer IB academy and complete all summer assignments; must pass all IB Middle Years program courses and complete all community service hours; must also complete the personal project; must attend summer and Saturday academies and complete all summer assignments; must not have frequent or serious disciplinary incidents, excessive absences or tardies.
Board discussion focused on the entrance criteria: Chairperson Forte-Brown talked about her opposition to deny entrance due to absences, suspensions and grade requirements. Ms. Cox agreed citing her experience with the AVID program. Ms. Beyer also had concerns about the grade requirements.
Vice Chair Carter stated that she could agree with eliminating absences and suspensions, but felt the board should adopt the majority of the criteria to stay true to the IB Programme. She felt that students could be discouraged or set up for failure if they are not proficient in math and reading prior to beginning this rigorous program.
Ms. Beyer made a motion that with full discussion, the board encourages Administration to tweak these into guidelines that our counseling staff and parents can use to communicate better with the incoming Hillside family. Ms. Bordley seconded the motion which passed unanimously.
Vice Chair Carter made a motion requesting Administration to bring a proposal to committee for entrance criteria. With no second, Vice Chair Carter replaced the motion with a request that Administration bring a proposal for entrance criteria to the committee for consideration. Dr. Becoats stated that due to time constraints, this could not take place until the 2013-14 school year.
- Support Services Committee, Omega Curtis Parker, Chair
- Revised Policy 4100 – Student Attendance – Second Reading
Public Comment: None
Committee Chairperson Parker presented Revised Policies 4100 and 4103 for approval on second reading.
Chairperson Forte-Brown noted that both policies were thoroughly discussed in committee.
On a motion by Vice Chair Carter, second by Ms. Parker, Revised Policy 4100 – Student Attendance – Second Reading was unanimously approved.
B. Revised Policy 4103 – Tardiness – Second Reading
Public Comment: None
On a motion by Vice Chair Carter, second by Ms. Bordley, Revised Policy 4103 – Tardiness – Second Reading was unanimously approved.
Chairperson Forte-Brown called for a motion to convene in closed session to consider confidential personnel matters under NCGS 143-318.11(a)(6) and 115C-319 and to consult with the board attorney to preserve the attorney-client privilege as provided in NCGS 318.11(a)(3) and to receive advice with respect to the lawsuit captioned Voyager Academy et al. v. Durham Public Schools Board of Education, 11 CVS 3732.
Ms. Beyer made a motion to convene in closed session for the purposes stated. Ms. Cox seconded. The motion passed unanimously. The board convened in closed session at approximately 10:19 pm.
The board reconvened in open session at 10:40 p.m.
Administration recommended board approval of the December 15, 2011 Personnel Report to include the Substitute Teachers List.
On a motion by Ms. Cox to accept the Superintendent’s recommendation and second by Ms. Beyer, the motion passed unanimously.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at approximately 10:41 p.m.
Minnie M. Forte Brown, Chair
Durham Public Schools Board of Education
Dr. Eric J. Becoats, Superintendent
Durham Public Schools