Thursday, January 16, 2014

LMSD Trustees Consider Construction/Repair and Student Performance

The Trustees of the Louisville Municipal School District met on January 14 in a regularly scheduled meeting. As the meeting began, a new board member, Sheila Hickman took the oath of office to fill the position of retiring school board member Claire Crowell.

Hickman hit the ground running with other board members as they met with architect, Joey Henderson who presented proposals for repair work at Eiland Middle School. The proposed project included replacing the wood flooring in the gym at Eiland, replacing the roof, adding a liner, painting and possibly adding air conditioning to the building. Henderson indicated that the repair project would likely cost between
$350,000-$400,000. Cost to air condition the building would depend upon the type of air conditioning. To fully air condition the building could cost as much as an additional $175,000-$200,000. Several board members expressed concern and dismay at the condition of the building currently. Most agreed that there was no facility in the district in as poor condition as the Eiland gym.

The architect also indicated that there is a good chance that the District would hear from FEMA in the next few weeks concerning a shelter/cafeteria project at the Nanih Waiya Attendance Center. The District and Winston County Emergency Management have been working on a grant for several months that would provide 90% of the funding for the structure. There is currently no tornado shelter in the school or in that area of the County. The receipt of the FEMA grant would be dependent upon the location in the Nanih Waiya community.

There was much discussion concerning these projects, how to bid them and the use of the funds in the District's capital improvement account. Superintendent McMullan said, “We certainly want to keep funds for a rainy day but it is not a good idea to keep $4 million in capital improvement funds while structures such as the Eiland gym are in such bad shape.”

Board member Bobby Moody said, “I think it’s criminal on somebody’s part to let a public facility get in such poor condition.” Moody was concerned about the piecemeal approach to construction and renovation and questioned what the Board would do if the District didn't get the FEMA grant for the Nanih Waiya shelter/cafeteria.

After much debate, the Board voted to pursue the project for gym repair at Eiland and to get bids on air-conditioning options which will be decided upon later - depending on cost.

The board heard from Curriculum Director Penny Hill with an update on STAR data testing of students for the year to date.  Hill indicated there was a new accountability model and expressed concerns about student’s proficiency in all schools, particularly in the middle school grades. Testing in reading and math showed that many classes were below a 50% proficiency level. Hill said, “While not every student can be proficient, all can show growth.”

The Board also approved new policies that were revised due to Mississippi Senate and Mississippi House Legislative changes last year.

The Board approved several staff recommendations. Staff changes were due to retirement. There were no new positions to fill.

The Board also discussed procedures for the election of board officers. The old policy was established when school board elections were in March. However with board elections now moved to November and new board members sworn in in January, Trustee Body Moody suggested that the Board go to a rotational system of appointing a school board president. After discussion, the Board agreed to take the matter under consideration and to place it on the agenda for next month’s meeting.

The Board dealt with financial matters, 16th section land issues and leases, established times for school visits by the School Board and set the next meeting for February 11 at 5:30pm prior to entering into an executive session for personnel issues and superintendent evaluation.