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Board Meeting Report - August 2, 2022

Our Board of Education held its latest public meeting last night, and the meeting opened with a statement from the Board. The statement was delivered by Board President Melissa Ford and provided an update regarding our superintendent. Here is the statement:

“Before we move ahead with our agenda tonight, the board would like to share a brief update regarding our superintendent. We have heard from so many of you, and we are grateful that you share our concern for the well-being of our schools, our employees, and, most importantly, our students. We know you have questions, and while we do not have a resolution tonight, as a Board, we feel it is important to share as much as possible while respecting the rights and dignity of all our employees and also following our Board Statement of Ethics.

That Statement of Ethics, which we review every year, requires that we don’t disclose the details of closed meeting discussions regarding confidential personnel matters. However, I can share that Dr. Gadson’s contract requires that we participate in mediation of any disputes, that Superintendent Gadson has requested mediation, and that the Board plans to participate in that process in good faith. We are committed to transparency, and if there ever were to be a termination of either of our two direct employees’ contracts, that would be done in an open and public meeting.

As we remain focused on having a successful school year for our students and staff, I want to reaffirm to our district families and to our community that the Board has full faith and confidence in our district and school administrators, our educators, and staff, and we will be ready for our students to return to school on August 30th. Our students are our number one priority, and you have our commitment that this personnel matter will not impact our students’ day-to-day educational experience. Thank you to our school leaders and employees for making sure we remain focused on serving our students and providing them with the best education possible.  

To our employees, we know that you are getting questions and that this is a distraction from the important work you do each day to serve our students. Thank you for your work on behalf of our students and your dedication to a successful start to the school year. I am confident our students are in good hands.”

Other items of Board business:

  • The Board approved the Consent Agenda, which included the selection of design firms to conduct feasibility studies for rebuilding Highland High School and West High School. The feasibility studies will help us determine what it would take to rebuild these two schools, how much it might cost, etc. Engaging a firm to do a feasibility study is not a guarantee that these schools will be rebuilt, but it’s an important step in helping us make sure our facilities are best meeting students’ needs.
  • At 7 p.m., the Board conducted a Truth in Taxation Hearing, during which the Board approved the proposed tax rate for the 2022-23 school year. The slight tax increase means city residents will pay an extra $2.20 per year in property taxes for each $100,000 in assessed value on their homes.
  • Next, came a report about Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in any educational program that receives federal funding. The report reviewed the number of sports teams at each high school, the number of participants and facilities for each sport, and the expenditures for each sport.

There were five issues on the Discussion Agenda. All five were moved to Action and approved unanimously by the Board.

  • The new Classified Common Agreement combines agreements from five different classified employee groups into one.
  • Updates were made to the SLASA Written Understanding, which applies to our school and district administrators.
  • The Board agreed to hire an additional temporary McKenney-Vento Specialist to improve services for our students experiencing homelessness.
  • In an Organizational Change, the director of Child Nutrition and Transportation will now report directly to the Executive Director of Auxiliary Services.
  • The Board approved a proposal to start the procurement process for hiring Bond Counsel to guide the district through the process of a potential bond election in November 2023. This may become necessary if the district moves forward with rebuilding Highland High School and West High School.