At last month’s Tabernacle Board of Education meeting, several parents criticized the district for not having consistent, board-approved plans designed sooner for those students not taking the PARCC test.
After comparing their situation to other similar resolutions, the board came up with a unique solution regarding supervision of students during PARCC testing for those whose parents refused participation in state testing.
“This is a Tabernacle homegrown resolution that captures most of the comments of our parents and our community members, and it reflects the opinion of all the board members relative to what we believe is important,” Board President Michael Lee said.
The board recognizes parents have the right to make decisions for their child, including — but not limited to — the refusal that their child not take one or more of the state Department of Education standardized tests.
The board will not condone any negative or punitive treatment, explicit or implicit disciplinary action or impact on a student’s course grade, deportment or attendance of any student solely because the student’s parent refused participation in standardized testing.
These students will be assigned to a separate, quiet study area for the duration of each day’s test session only. School administrators and staff will not provide instruction or alternate assignments during the testing session.
A separate concern that was addressed during the meeting was the declining enrollment numbers in the district. The diminishing number of students is starting at the kindergarten level and having a domino effect on the rest of the district.
Tabernacle Elementary School has an enrollment of 410 students, and Olson Middle School has an enrollment of 362 students. As of March 21, there were 772 total students.
“Though these numbers are relatively stable, there is still a downward trend,” Lee said.
There have also been problems with teachers leaving.
“We were told there would be no personnel changes for this upcoming school year, and we are now approving a supervisor of special services/learning disability teacher-consultant at an annual salary of $95,000,” resident Megan Chamberlain said.
The board plans to examine exit meetings more closely and pay closer attention to what the teacher’s experience was like that led them to leave.
Another resolution that was discussed at last week’s meeting was in regard to the pension and health benefits reform.
The board urges the state Legislature and governor to ensure that the employers’ cost for teacher pensions and post-retirement medical benefits — financial obligations created by the state — are not transferred to local school districts.
“The feedback that the board received was that there are elements of this that, though it was moved and board members had the opportunity to consider it, we may be continuing to have questions relative to in the future,” Lee said.
The board president decided to withdraw this resolution and put a hold on it at this point.
“I would like to have legal assistance and understand the true essence of this,” Lee said. “What the board wanted to see happen was a statement made back toward our governor that we do not want the physical responsibilities to fall back on the taxpayers for this process.”
This resolution will be brought forward at an appropriate, later time, he said.
In other news:
• The retirement of Todd Creely, learning disability teacher-consultant, will be effective as of July 1.
• A contract was approved for school bus and van repairs as per the April 16 bid opening. Houpert Truck Service was selected for the 2014–2015 and 2015–2016 school years. The bid was awarded to the vendor with the lowest regular hourly rate at $65.
• The Tabernacle PTA meeting on May 8 in the Tabernacle Elementary School all-purpose room from 5:30–9 p.m. for the purpose of 3rd grade Fun Night was not approved because the Safe and Sound group has already scheduled the room that evening.
• Olson Middle School will be allowing the use of its parking lot and bathroom facilities to the Urban Promise Pedal for Promise cycling event on May 9 from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Five hundred people are expected to attend, so it will also be supplying porta-potties.