PISD school board met last Thursday

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The Pampa Independent School District Board of Trustees met last Thursday for a regularly-scheduled meeting.

After the formalities, the Board recognized students and staff, and were also recognized themselves, during Spotlight on Excellence.

The consent agenda consisted of one item, the previous meeting’s minutes, and then the commissioners approved a class size waiver.

In the discussion/action items, the housekeeping items of monthly financial reports, quarterly financial and investment report and the budget amendment were also all approved.

The Board received a presentation from associate superintendent of human resources/administrative services Dr. Nathan Maxwell concerning the early resignation and notice incentive program.

The plan, which was approved, will change the amount of money awarded to those who notify the District early that they plan to retire/leave the district. The amount is now $250 to the first 20 people.

Larkin said it’s usually those who know they will retire, go on maternity leave, etc.

“It’s just so we can know early and start planning, interviewing and hiring high-quality teachers to those positions,” superintendent Tanya Larkin said. 

Larkin added the reduced amount of money awarded in the program is so they can turn the funds into a loyalty and longevity program for the staff who stays with the District.

The Board continued their discussion regarding the local policy on student discipline and corporal punishment.

“The Board was presented with the last set of data from several different reports and surveys from the area, student focus groups and debates on pros/cons,” Larkin said. “They are just taking some more time to look over some of the research and information. They requested a little bit more data on a state level.”

Larkin said the community of students, parents and teachers in the discussion as it is a hot-button topic.

“It’s one of those issues that people definitely have strong opinions about, and what we’re seeing is our community and parents are pretty split 50-50 on whether they agree with the concept of corporal punishment,” Larkin said. “The Board is just trying to make the best decision. But it’s one of those policies where no matter what it will never instituted without parent permission on an individual basis.”

The Board tabled any action on this item.

The Board received a presentation and approved the Results Driven Accountability Improvement Plans.

“This is really a new system off of an old system,” Larkin said. “We have different kinds of accountability systems (federal, states, etc.). But this is a system that looks at programs like our Career-Technical program, our federal Every Student Succeeds Act program, our special education program and our bi-lingual/ESL programs.”

The program looks at every specific students progress in each individual program. Larkin said the District has continued to improve in all of those areas and on this Results Driven Accountability Improvement Plan program.

Heading into reports, the Board received a presentation from social worker Suzanne Pingel’s annual report.

The report highlighted the issues facing the District and highlighted several programs in place including Shattered Dreams, Snack Pak 4 Kids and the outreach programs to help students with back-to-school supplies.

But Larkin said the District are also focusing on the vaping epidemic affecting teens across the nation.

“Vaping is a growing concern across the nation with young people,” Larkin said. “Pingel shared with the Board the various ways the District is educating students on the dangers of vaping and interventions.”

There is a student group at Pampa High School working on peer-to-peer lessons with vaping and mental health.

The Board received the facilities report, another quarterly report where the District shares it’s plans for summer projects.

“The projects this summer will primarily be looking at some gym floors that we have cycle (gym floor replacement recently) going on and some parking lots that we will be doing some things on,” Larkin said. “But we have two big systems we’re doing research on and that involves roofs. We have several roofs that are over 35 years old that are going to be coming to a point where we will have to do something significant.”

In regards to the baseball and softball projects, the awnings for the softball field is tentatively scheduled to be up right after spring break. The baseball bleacher project is still in the preliminary stages of planning.

The Board heard a report for the Bright Bytes Technology Survey which is conducted twice a year. Teachers kindergarten through 12th grade are surveyed and students third grade through 12th grade are surveyed.

“It really asks a bunch of questions about what technology they have available to them at home and school, how they are using that technology at home and school and how they are using that technology to learn content and create content; not just entertainment,” Larkin said. “We’ve done this for six years and we’ve continued to make strides. This is the first year we’ve had a dip, and part of that is some education we need to do.”

Larkin said the teachers indicated they didn’t realize they could take their Pampa ISD-issued laptops home and the District needs to communicate that better. But overall, the District is doing better than the State. 

“We are above the State in those areas and I am proud we are leading the charge for that work,” Larkin said. “You’re never done progressing in regards to technology so it’s a constant, progressive work looking into the future. But also monitoring what changes need to be made for professional development, education/information for parents, students and teachers.”

The Board approved a plan last month for the inter-local transportation agreements with surrounding districts and while the other school boards also approved the plan, now it’s on the superintendents to work out the details.

Luis Nava gave an update on the Panhandle Area Association of School Boards grassroots training report, who meet three or four times a year to discuss issues relevant to the state and local level.

Among the information items was the enrollment report, which indicates Pampa is down 15 students from this time last year after having several months in a row where the District saw slight increases.

For more information on Pampa ISD visit www.pampaisd.net.

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