Miami — At the regular meeting of the Miami School Board on Monday, Jan. 13, board member Robert Mawson had some strong words for some teachers and staff members who he feels are sabotaging the district.
Mawson’s feelings came about after fellow board member Debbie Allen suggested holding a work session to focus on the upcoming budget and discuss what to do about declining student enrollment.
“I feel like there’s only so much we can do as a board,” Mawson said. “We’re not the staff members and teachers who tell parents to not send their kids here. We’re not the teachers who tell kids they don’t want them in our classrooms.
“If you don’t want to be here, go somewhere else. We need to bring the hammer down and make some decisions. The public is waiting for us to do that.”
Allen seemed to touch on some of the same subjects when she suggested holding a work session.
“There’s a lot of negativity coming from staff members to the parents,” Allen said. “We need our team leaders on board and we need to move forward. We need to have some candid conversations with our administrators.”
Allen was also concerned with the district’s declining enrollment.
“Why are we losing so many kids?” she asked. “It’s kind of staggering.”
At superintendent Sherry Dorathy’s suggestion, the board will meet twice a month for the time being. The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 28 at 6:30 p.m.
Reports to the board
In her report to the board, Dorathy announced that Kevin Carney, an independent contractor who also works for the Valley Unified School District, is performing a school climate operations assessment.
“He’s on our campuses visiting with students and teachers,” Dorathy said. “There will be a lot of data gathering to do once he’s done, and we should be able to identify some areas where we need to improve.”
She also told the board that there has been a reduction in student population. “We’re not sure of the financial impact; we need to see the 100-day report first,” she said.
Dorathy requested that the board members begin using their district email addresses.
“That way it’s easier for the public to contact you,” she said.
Business manager Lisa Marquez reported that the district’s recent financial audit, which cost $40,000, was “outstanding.” She commended Miami Jr./Sr. High School principal Rob Bueche’s secretaries, who she said did a “phenomenal job” working with the auditors.
Marquez also reported that a food service audit of the district is still ongoing. Mawson suggested possibly partnering with another school district to save money on the next food service contract.
Bueche was pleased with the first semester at the Jr./Sr. High School. He told the board that he’d like to get the percentage of students with at least one ‘F’ below 5 percent; about 9 percent of students failed a class in the first semester.
He added that the school has developed incentives for students to attend school, and has seen positive results thus far.
“We still have some work to do, but there’s a bright outlook for the second semester,” Bueche said.
Lee Kornegay principal Curtis Patching reported that enrollment is holding steady at 284. Forty-nine students had perfect attendance in the first semester.
The PTO continues to sell concessions at the Jr. High basketball games; the next PTO meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 29. Patching told the board about the upcoming Pennies for Patience fundraiser, and commended his school’s students for their hard work and success in the recent spelling bee.
Bejarano principal David Pastor lamented the multitude of maintenance issues in the district’s schools. At Lee Kornegay, “it’s cold in one room and hot in another … we also have a lot of lighting issues. There’s a lot of finger pointing going on. It’s become a nightmare.”
Pastor also said that the district needs to improve how it cools its servers.
Athletic director Nick Ferro told the board that they boys basketball team won in San Carlos for the first time in three years, and that the boys soccer team registered its first win of the season.
Good and bad news
Paul Licano, who was named board president for calendar year 2014 at the start of the meeting, said he recently did a walk-through of the high school and was not pleased with what he saw in the school office.
“There were students who were acting in a very insubordinate manner to the staff members,” Licano said. “Bad language, not responding to direction. It was absolutely outrageous. I don’t think some of these students realize we’re preparing them for the workforce. If you behave that way at a job, you’re fired.”
On a more positive note, Licano praised English teacher Rayla Mills. Kevin Carney, who’s performing a school climate operations assessment for the district, told Licano that Mills’ classroom is the best he’s ever seen.
“If you haven’t been in Mrs. Mills’ class, it’s amazing,” Licano said.