The DeKalb County Board of Education Tuesday night approved executive action to purchase portable classrooms to meet needs at DeKalb West and DCHS.
Director of Schools Mark Willoughby says each portable contains two classrooms with a restroom. One of the portables will be set up at DeKalb West School for the third grade to help relieve overcrowding. The other portable will be set up in the area behind the high school and middle school primarily to meet needs of some students, who have previously been served by contracted services outside the county. "We're going to start providing those services here in the county to meet the needs of those students."
Willoughby, during an interview with WJLE earlier in the day Tuesday, said growth in the enrollment among the lower grades at DeKalb West has become a concern, particularly the third grade. "In K- 3rd grade, 20 students is all you can have per class and we're actually a little bit over our numbers in the third grade. After you get out of the third grade we're in good shape at the West School, then the numbers (we're allowed to have) go up to 25 per class. They go up to 30 as you get up to 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. But we're crowding that 20 every way in the world right now in the third grade."
Willoughby says a portable at the West School will "give us some relief there".
According to Willoughby, some parents, in recent years, have enrolled their children at the West School because it is more convenient for them, even though they probably should be going to other schools in the county. " For some parents who are going to work at Lebanon or other places (in the mornings), that's a convenient place for their students to go to school and in the afternoons the grandparents or someone else is picking them up. Under our board policies, students should go to school where their bus routes go, even if parents take them, but with permission they can go to a different school if the parents provide transportation, if it doesn't cause overcrowding. In the situation at the West School, we're probably going to have to look at that more closely because if it (overcrowding) continues, we'll have to hire more teachers for that (at West School) when we have room at other places (schools).
The cost of the portables is $56,795 per building, but Director Willoughby says the money to buy them was included in the budget. "When we did the budget, we had anticipated $72,000 (per portable) and of the $350,000 we put in capital outlay, $150,000 was meant to go for the purchase of the two portables."
In other business, Director Willoughby updated the school board Tuesday night on personnel moves since the last meeting.
Those employed for the 2009-2010 school year since June are as follows:
Jonathan Fontanez, Supervisor of Instruction for grades 7-12. He will succeed Dr. Carol Hendrix in that position since she has retired.
Joe Cope, teacher at DCHS. He is also the new DCHS girls basketball coach
Amanda Mullinax, teacher at DeKalb West School
Todd Cantrell, teacher at DCHS
Tiffany Wheatley, transferred to a Smithville Elementary School CDC vacancy
Wendy Colvert, transferred to a SPED teacher position
In other business, the board voted to reccomend that Director Willoughby fill a health occupations teaching position from January until the end of the school year, so the person employed can qualify for health insurance benefits.
During the June meeting, at the request of Director Willoughby, the board voted to create a half time teaching position in health occupations at the high school in the proposed tentative budget for 2009-2010. Willoughby says the school system currently has a health occupations teacher but there is a need to expand the program. "In our health occupations (program), there has been an over abundance of requests for classes in the next school year." Willoughby says funds are available in the tentative budget for this positon.
The school board approved the 2009-2010 individual school budgets and fundraisers Tuesday night but Sixth District member, Bruce Parsley voted "no" because of his concern about young children selling products to help raise money for things that the school system should be providing. "My biggest thing is I don't think we need young kids, elementary aged kids, selling candies and magazines and stuff like that. It puts a big burden on five, six, and seven year old kids to keep up with that much money on a bus with high school kids. We just need to find another way besides having little kids out peddling candy and magazines."
Third District Board member Kenny Rhody says the board took steps a few years ago to limit the number of fundraisers that each group could have per year. "There's a whole lot less of it now than were was. It still seems extreme but there's so many different programs out there that these fundraisers benefit that I wasn't even aware of until we really got to reviewing it. It helps the kids in a lot of different ways that you just don't normally think about. I wish we could do something else."
First District member John David Foutch added " If you cut any of this out, you're going to have to cut some activities in the schools that the children are doing."
Director Willoughby. "We do not have money in the budget to make up the difference."
Second District member Charles Robinson:" Fundraisers teach children, in my opinion, to be a little bit more assertive in salesmanship. It's got some positive aspects to it."
Board member Parsley: "Nobody is sending their kid to the elementary school to learn how to be a salesman. There's nothing wrong with being a salesman. My father-in-law was a salesman for years, but that's not what people send their kids to school for, to learn how to sell. We just need to find a way to provide this money without having our kids out there peddling goods. I don't have a problem with clubs like high school groups, I'm talking about little kids selling stuff so that they've got enough of whatever in school. We need to provide that."
The board adopted three policy amendments on first reading including one that allows all full time employees one day paid absence per school year for the death of an immediate family member as defined in the policy, beginning with the 2009-2010 school year. Bereavement days are non-cumulative.
New language was inserted in the sick leave policy that allows full time support staff employees to use two of their earned/accumulated sick days per school year as personal days. No additional days will be earned. This actually took effect beginning with the 2008-09 school year.
Meanwhile, sealed bids are still being accepted for the sale of a new house, recently constructed by students in the DCHS Carpentry Class.
The original deadline for submitting sealed bids was Thursday, June 11th but no bids were received. The board, Tuesday night, for the second time voted to extend the deadline. Bidders have until next meeting date of Thursday, August 13th to submit a sealed bid.
The house, located at 140 Evergreen Lane, Smithville, has approximately 1,652 square feet of living area with an attached 528 square foot 2-car garage, master bedroom with master bath and walk-in closet, utility room with half bath, kitchen with eating area, and downstairs den area. The upstairs includes two bedrooms, sitting room, and full bath, 12 x 20 deck, 2 central heat and air gas units, gas hot water heater, 5' x 22' front porch, concrete driveway, hardwood flooring in the living room and den area, tile in the bathrooms and kitchen, and carpet in the bedrooms.
The minimum bid was $140,000, but the board voted Tuesday night to reduce the minimum bid to $135,000. Bids are to be mailed or delivered to the DeKalb County Board of Education,110 South Public Square, Smithville in a sealed envelope clearly marked as a "Bid" and will be received until 4:00 p.m. August 13th. The house can be viewed by appointment. Call the Board of Education to request a viewing at 615-597-4084.
The sealed bids will be opened at the next school board meeting at 7:00 p.m. on August 13th.