Miami — The members of the Miami School Board were busy Monday night with a number of items on the agenda, which they breezed through in good time. A full crowd of teachers was present at the meeting, hoping to speak on budget issues. However, the agenda only allowed for a vote on setting dates for upcoming budget work sessions, which will be Feb. 25, March 4, and March 18.
A 90-minute executive session toward the end of the meeting resulted in the approval of a superintendent’s contract for Sherry Dorathy, who has been serving as the acting superintendent since Jan. 26, when Mr. Don Nelson officially submitted his resignation to the board. Dorathy has been the interim superintendent for the past year. The executive session items discussed by the board included a superintendent’s contract for SY 2012-13 and another contract for SY 2013-2016.
The board approved the first item, giving Dorathy a $19,000 pay increase in her salary, for a total of $100,154, starting retrospectively from Jan. 26 when she took over the position. The requested three-year contract was not approved at this time. Board members said they would address the item at a later date. Five other personnel items were discussed in the executive session, three which were approved, one which was disregarded due to a change in the situation, and the fifth being tabled due to insufficient information.
During the Call to the Audience portion of the meeting, a 4th grade teacher stood up and addressed the board regarding the need for support from administrators when it comes to creating a “culture of achievement” in MUSD and “increasing rigor” in the curriculum. The teacher started by saying, “I am in no way making excuses for poor teacher performances,” however she felt that “administrators get paid much more than teachers; their duties should go beyond ‘babysitting’ and cafeteria duty.”
She stressed that as just as teachers are held accountable based on student performance, so should administrators be held accountable for supporting teachers in their endeavors to create a more rigorous learning environment. And when parents complain because of child’s performance, the administrator should not cave in to the parent’s complaint, but rather support teachers who are trying to move students ahead. Furthermore, the teacher requested that the administrators hold students accountable for their behavior. And finally, the teacher asked that class time be honored and the many interruptions, whether announcements over the loud speaker or calling students out of class, be stopped. She emphasized the need to establish routines school-wide to avoid such disruptions that hamper effective learning in the classroom.
Administrative reports were filled with positive news. Parents of students at Miami Jr./Sr. High School have or will soon receive letters explaining the “D” grade which the school was given for the 2011-12 school year. Principal Robert Bueche said it was important “that parents understand and are aware” of what this means rather than “sweeping it under the rug.”
David Pastor told the board that due to the cold weather, students at Las Lomas are able to watch movies inside prior to the official start of the school day. This has inevitably led to an increase in the number of breakfasts being served, which is a positive development.
IT Director Sean McDonald was happy to announce to the board that the school district had successfully made the transition to online records for all its students. “This is something we’ve wanted to do for years but just didn’t have the technology,” he said. Now teachers can track a student’s progress in each class online. McDonald said the next phase will be a system that allows parents to access their child’s online files, enabling them to check the student’s attendance throughout the day as well as check grades in each subject.
Under old business, the board was able to come to an agreement on the long-discussed topic of a hearing officer. The board decided to establish a policy creating a Hearing Board, consisting of two board members and an administrator to handle student hearings in a timely manner should a board quorum not be to meet. The item passed unanimously.
Under news business, Cecile Hudson of the Youth Partnership made a short presentation on Abstinence Education classes, asking board approval for the classes to be taught to 7th and 8th graders during their social studies classes. The program consists of eight lessons which cover everything from STDs, teen pregnancy, as well as the emotional risks of becoming sexually active at a young age. Hudson stressed, “This is not a sex-ed class! We talk about risks involved.” Parents would need to sign a permission slip before students are allowed to attend. The item passed unanimously.
Also under new business, the board heard about changes to the high school’s athletic code for players and coaches. Some of the changes were discussed, but the board had a lot of further input they would like to be implemented in the new code. Board member Debbie Allen expressed the need for a “consistent approach” and “defined guidelines” that are uniform for all sports and teams.
Paul Licano added, “A lot of us went through coaches like Coach Vargas and Coach Anthony.” These coaches instilled a strict code of ethics in their players who went on to pass those same ethics on to their players. However, new coaches coming in may not promote those same ethics, which could be of a concern. Licano therefore stressed the need for additional training, calling the basic AIA online courses “cheesy.”
The item was tabled.