By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Board of Education President Tim Turner called the meeting to order following The Pledge of the Allegiance. Tucker County High School Principal Stephen Cosner was present to update the board on their newly derived cell phone policy, partially formulated by the Student Council and the staff. The students will be permitted to use their cell phones between class and at lunch, and classroom regulations will be decided by each teacher. Students who choose not to abide by the new policy will be referred to the office and it will be handled as either insubordination or misuse of technology. “The interesting part was seeing the kids work on this and seeing it really wasn’t easy and create something because everyone has an opinion”, stated Cosner. He also noted, after reviewing their student handbook, he would like to develop a committee consisting of teachers, students, and parents to make necessary revisions due to updates and clarifications needed since the last publication.
Board member Cathy Hebb questioned if this new policy has been put in writing. Cosner stated it is not at this time but will be done and included in the student handbook revisions, however the repercussions of insubordination and misuse of technology is in writing and understood. “The cell phones aren’t the only issue, there are several grey areas”, he said in referring to the handbook. Superintendent Alicia Lambert asked if the teachers were handling their classroom protocol in a similar fashion, to which he stated they too had a difficult time coming to a consensus and are each adopting different cell phone rules per classroom.
Lambert expressed concern, “For students I know a lot of times if the expectations aren’t the same across the board, what they can get away with in one room they can’t get away with in another room, and then they don’t understand why this teacher didn’t punish them for it but this one did”. Cosner agreed and felt the revisions to the handbook would address this. Cosner again agreed, however feels there needs to be more consistency and more work on the policy itself. “As a principal, I have a problem dictating classroom rules to teachers”, Cosner said. Jessica Wamsley added, “If you’re going to give the teachers the ability to write their own rules, as a staff you need to come up with a set of non-negotiables, the things we will not budge on”. Turner said, “I guess my concern is if there is no school policy, then you’re saying it’s a classroom policy by teacher, then you get substitutes in that work in multiple positions, and that’s just totally confusing”. The board as a whole requested a copy of the handbook be presented to them when the revisions have been made for their review and input. Tucker Valley Elementary Middle School Principal Teresa Brusak stepped forth and requested a copy as well saying it would assist them to mimic TCHS handbook to help prepare students for the high school as well.
Since last meeting, TVEMS has been developing a proposal as to how to spend the CSI money they will soon be receiving. Turner asked Brusak how the committees were functioning and progressing since the last report, to which she responded, “The committees have been organized, some of them did not meet, like while I was out sick some of them did not meet though I’m not sure why. And of course snow days and such make them not meet, but they’ve been meeting and each time a committee meets they have a leader and a secretary and the secretary is supposed to put out the minutes within a week to the rest of the staff so that they know what’s going on in those committees and so that they can share input with things they think should be happening”. Brusak also keeps copies of the minutes so she can track their progress. Turner admitted with the recent weather and school closures it has produced meeting issues, but wanted to grasp how Brusak feels about their progress toward productive goals. “Some are stronger than others, some we need to get them some more I guess maybe professional development or training on what our expectations are”, she responded. She gave some examples to the board as to how she feels she can assist with these groups on doing so, such as in their minutes not only list their intentions but who is going to carry those out. Turner asked about the community involvement committee; however, Brusak hasn’t received any notes as of the meeting. Vice Principal Kelly Thompson spoke up saying there is a kindness week program scheduled for the upcoming week that falls under the community involvement focal area.
Hebb brought up the fact that Brusak is reporting at every board meeting due to the fact TVEMS is categorized as a focus school. She said she understands this, however our schools have a lot of the same issues and a lot of good things going for them as well, therefore requests the three principals attend the first meeting of each month to share some of their struggles, areas of focus, along with what is going well for their schools. This is something Lambert will be reaching out to the other schools about working into the agenda. Turner again turned to Brusak and asked, “What happened great at your school last week?” Brusak proudly announced a plan has been developed for a student who has been having extreme difficulties in the classroom. The staff, child, and guardians have contributed to this plan they feel will help him succeed and was noted as seeming happy with the plan for the remainder of the year.
Under discussion items, dates were selected for the upcoming superintendent’s evaluation with a goal of completion by March 1. The emergency closing of schools protocol was reviewed and discussed how the geography of the county produces unique challenges in having set standards, and it was decided to leave the policy as is and to use good judgment.
For new business, the January 22 minutes, payment of bills, and out of state travel/field trip requests were all approved. Turner then read a resolution concerning the Omnibus Education Bill (SB 451) that stated: Therefore, be it resolved that the Tucker County Board of Education opposes any and all efforts to use public funds to education reform or make any changes that does not lead to higher student achievement for the most disadvantaged students; and be it further resolved that taxation and policy decisions which result in reduced revenues for public education and/or have a negative impact on our students and families must be avoided. Turner made the motion to adopt the resolution followed by Hebb.
Personnel was addressed and the following were approved: Removal of Nicole Poe as a substitute cook, and hiring Neil Kisamore as TCHS head baseball coach and Nathaniel Goldstein as TCHS assistant baseball coach. Executive session commenced and ended with no decisions made. After several meetings with architectural firms reviewing the work to be done at TVEMS, it was recommended to hire Williamson and Shriver for the SBA project. Chris Gross made the motion, seconded by Chopper Evans and agreed upon by all. Gross, who sat in on the interviews, commented, “They were all very impressive” and that Williamson and Shriver “were very specific to our project”. Gross continued his praises of the company and the entire board is happy to have them on this $4.2 million project. Brief discussion began in regards to the next, ten year SBA plan needs to be developed and the upcoming staffing decisions. The calendar of events was reviewed prior to meeting adjournment. The next meeting of the Tucker County Board of Education will be held Monday, February 18 at 4:30 p.m.