DVD, 'Cool Schools' honor highlights meeting

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The highlight of the January School Board meeting was the presentation of a DVD of Channel 4's "Cool Schools" broadcast to each board member. Jakeera Simmons and Dan Whitaker came to the board meeting from Marshall County High School to show highlights of the broadcast. MCHS teacher Kim Anderson told board members that the students were up at and school by 3:30 a.m., waiting for the doors to open.

Anderson reported that WSMV's Aaron Solomon said, "We've never had a crowd like this at a school!"

Colin Beatty, president of the Marshall County Education Association reported to the board that the teachers had ratified the work contract by a vote of 184-2. Beatty also reminded everyone of the countywide spelling bee on Tuesday, Feb. 10.

Larissa Delk, food services director, told the board that the number of children getting free and reduced-price meals was going up all over the county. "It's amazing how much it has grown," she said.

Delk informed the board that if the number of children getting free or reduced-price lunches at any one school exceeded a certain percentage, then the government required that school to provide breakfast as well. Forrest School now falls into this category, and Delk said, "We would love to do breakfast there; my staff is ready and willing," but she explained that they couldn't serve breakfast at Forrest now, due to scheduling problems, since the school day there starts extra early.

"I think it's something that can be worked on." Delk said.

She answered some of the board's questions about school meals, and described how she and her department encouraged every student who was eligible to take advantage of the free and reduced-price meals.

The board approved a motion to sign a waiver saying that they realize breakfast should be served at Forrest, but asking that they not be obliged to do it this school year.

Suzanne Ingram, the technology director, announced that, thanks to a federal grant obtained by Linda Williams-Lee, they had just finished installing a new interactive communication system, Community Safe, at the schools. The purpose of this system is to promote communication between school and home. Community Safe allows each school to contact every home within a matter of minutes to inform parents or guardians of upcoming events, weather emergencies, and crisis situations if they arise.

Ingram reported that the teachers were excited about the possibilities and said, "I think it's really going to be a good thing. I'm excited and grateful to the Federal programs for doing this for our school system."

The subject of a "retreat" for school board members was brought up again. The Tennessee School Boards Association recommends, "Each school board should participate in an annual retreat which includes some time for planning, self assessment and board development activities."

"Do we want to do one here?" asked chairwoman Ann Tears. "Or do we want to join the TSBA retreat in March?"

"It's better here to avoid travel cost," said Kristen Gold.

"I'm sure there are alternatives (to going away for a retreat)," Mark Wilkerson said. "We're all open to conversation," he continued. "We should be able to some up with a decent plan pretty quickly - four hours should do it."

The board members agreed to communicate with one another by e-mail and come up with a mutually acceptable date for a retreat in late February.