The Pine Bluff School Board voted Wednesday night to table a decision to finalize personnel actions for the 2018-19 school year citing a need to revisit and gain clarity on the issue.
PBSD Superintendent Michael Robinson recommended that “all classified staff be rehired for the 2018-19 school year, with the exception of those that are a part of the reduction in force.”
Due to a decline in enrollment, board members voted at a prior meeting for a reduction in force measure and for a reorganization of personnel that would affect more than 40 employees. The district released a list last month of those affected by the RIF as far job reorganization duties, but school officials did not make clear if there would be layoffs.
In addition, the school board indicated at a prior meeting that the previous list was not in its final form and could be subject to change at a later date.
Robinson said that the personnel actions would be under the current salary schedule.
Board member Marinda Williams said there had been a concern about the board revisiting the salary schedule due to some discrepancies.
Jewellette Courtney, who sits on the Classified Personnel Policies Committee, explained to the board that they should revisit the current salary schedule for classified employees because it is not fair, and the changes that were made to the schedule benefits some while stagnating others.
Board member Andrea Roaf-Little offered Courtney an opportunity to explain the pay scale for classified employees to the board.
Courtney said that the CPPC had created and presented a graph and also provided an index for board members that showed the trends of pay with the changes made to the employees’ pay since they have been in the district. She said that Robinson has never discussed or shown the approved salary schedule with the CPPC to make sure the policies were followed in creating it.
She informed the board of the law regarding the CPPC’s role in the district, while also mentioning that the committee was formed by the State of Arkansas. The board will meet again Thursday regarding the salary schedule to ensure they are in compliance before approving personnel actions.
In other news, board member Henry Dabner requested to add the contract renewal of GCA Educational Services, the district’s janitorial service, to the agenda.
In previous meetings, the board had discussed terminating the company’s contract due to complaints received and communication issues.
Dabner said that no advertising has been done as far as job openings and no plan has been implemented regarding what would happen if the company’s contract is terminated.
Board members debated about the issue and decided that there is still time to advertise and hire employees before the 2018-19 school year begins.
According to a previous article in the Commercial, the service agreement says the contract began July 1, 2017, and shall end June 30, 2018. It was signed by Robinson on May 19, 2017, and by GCA Educational Services vice president of finance/chief financial officer Randy Twyman on May 18, 2017.
In other news, Arkansas Department of Education State Superintendent Michael Hernandez presented the board with information regarding the recent state report cards and the Every Student Succeeds Act.
He informed the board members of changes that have been made to the act and the state accountability report. Student improvement, graduation rates for high schools, school quality index, which includes attendance, reading levels, science achievement levels, on time credits, ACT scores, etc.
Hernandez presented a website, myschoolinfo.arkansas.gov, to the board members, which allows the public to search and compare public schools and districts from across the State of Arkansas.
He said that the website shows how schools are doing in different areas.
“You can look at a school or a district’s grades served, enrollment rates, and the current letter grades,” said Hernandez.
He said that the overall ESSA School Index which includes achievement, growth, graduation rate, and school quality index is also shown for each school verses what the state requires.
“The graphs show you where the school ranks in terms of all the high schools in the state,” he said.
In other news, Aliza Jones from the Arkansas Continuity of Operations Program presented the board with a disaster plan proposal. She stated that she has created and implemented plans for the past five years and each of them have been successful.
The PBSD has been audited consistently for not having the state required disaster plan in effect.
Jones emphasized the importance of employees in the district knowing what to do in case of a technological failure. She stated that she will work with district employees and teachers to create a simple and comprehensive plan that ensures the district will no longer be audited by the state.
Jones also offered to provide active shooter training to the district. She offered her services to the district at a cost of $3500.
Robinson recommended that the board approve the proposal. Board members need more clarification and will contact Jones once a decision is made.
In other news, the board voted to approve a summer four-day work week. The schedule will begin July 11th and end August 3rd with employees working 10-hour days, four days per week.
In other news, Robinson said that several meetings were held in which questions were asked regarding keeping or removing the uniform policy.
He said that after looking into the issue, the problem isn’t the uniform policy, it is the enforcement of the policy. He said that when the policy isn’t enforced, students begin to wear what they want.
“I recommend that the district keeps the uniform policy the way it is, but enforcing the policy,” Robinson said.
Board members voted to approve the policy.
In other news, Michael Nellums acknowledged the transportation department for their hard work, dedication and safety awareness. “Our buses have been driven for 10 years without causing an accident,” said Nellums.
Awards and recognition were given to Herman Mitchell, Latricia Porter, Rudy Withers, Angela Pearson, Nakia Gridley, Kat Williams, Cedric Bennett, Frank Reynolds, Robert Hester, and Audrea Owens, who was recognized as Employee of the Year.