Center ISD Board of Trustees Recognize Debate Team; Adjust Local Policies

August 11, 2020 - Matthew Mettauer, School Board President, opened the Center ISD School Board meeting August 11, 2020, by reading aloud a question from an unnamed individual who had concerns over the school opening during the pandemic.

"I was just wondering, our students are going back to school, our teachers are going back to school, our bus drivers are picking these students up and taking them to and from school without proper sanitation, but yet, the board is meeting video conference. Why can't you meet face-to-face if you're sending all of your teachers and students face-to-face? That does not make sense to me."

Dr. Brian Morris, Superintendent, addressed the concern by stating the buses would be disinfected and fogged twice a day, or more, if the amount of trips in a day exceeds two.

Dr. Morris said he spoke with Allison Harbison, Shelby County Judge. "Her comment was, as long as we could do social distancing that she felt it would be fine for us to go back into face-to-face meetings," said Morris.

He suggested the next school board meeting could be held face-to-face and no longer be broadcast.

The board recognized the Center High School Debate Team and their coach, Douglas Moore spoke to the board about their recent achievements. He described for the board, the team participated in National Speech & Debate Association Nationals and 38th in the nation was their final ranking.

"This is the fourth year in a row that we've had somebody qualify for nationals. This was Jack Callon's second time to qualify for nationals, he qualified last year, Mark [Perkins] is rarified air in that he has been a four time national qualifier."

According to Moore, Jack Callen Watlington and his partner Kristen Orsak were District Champions in UIL over Cross Examination Debate, which Moore commented was the third year for CHS Debate to, "kick Carthage's butt." They weren't able to attend state due to COVID-19.

"Mark [Perkins] medaled in state for the second time. This year he went to state in Congressional Debate and placed fourth, that finished up in June," said Moore.

Moore remarked this was the seventh or eight year in a row CHS Debate has had at least one medal in state UIL.

"Very proud of the both of them (Mark Perkins and Jack Callen Watlington), for nationals they had to redo their whole show and had to be socially distance recorded on Zoom," said Moore.

The pair worked for a couple weeks on the project. Moore explained the credit is all theirs as the writing, cutting and blocking all involved was theirs.

Mettauer commented they are proud of Perkins and Watlington, as well as the whole program. Perkins addressed the board with a speech giving thanks and appreciation for the opportunity to participate and excel in debate.

"I appreciate Dr. Morris and the board for not only recognizing us today, but for giving me the chance to speak. It's kind of like old times, I'm in a suit, I'm on a timer and I'm speaking in front of scary adults, no offense Mr. Mettauer. Have you ever found yourself reading a proverb, or a scripture, or a line from a good book and the truth of the words fits with you so well that it kind of leaves you stunned that you found it? My words were, the heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a persuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you and offers you meaning, joy or passion.

"That was debate for me and that's why I'm glad that I get a little chance to thank the people who allowed that to be a discovery. To my CHS partners, I'm sorry Jack Callen for the migraines that I gave you, but thank you and all of them for showing me the blessings of teamwork. To Mrs. Franklin, our second duo coach, for not only expecting but fomenting greatness, and thank you for teaching me what the word foment means. To Mrs. [Sydney] Brookshire, and Mr. [Chris] Watlington and all the UIL academic coaches for their endless support. To the board for not only financial aid, but for having the bravery to actually allow these events to take place because not all boards do. 

"To Mr. Moore, the person I look up to most who's still alive, the person who's been my hero when I needed him and even when I didn't know I needed him. Rule number 84 of debate, 'you'll never have enough time to say everything,' and though I have a lot to say I won't say it because I'm sure that the future of CHS Debate will have plenty to say."

Perkins continued, saying he is eager over the new events center with expectations for it to be a great door opener for UIL Academics and debate. He looks forward to the theatre department having greater ability to create with new equipment providing lighting, space, and sound, as well as more space for the community.

To give a visual example of his accomplishments, Perkins presented a box containing his medals from different events and he elaborated on how they are not the full demonstration of those accomplishments.

"I talked a little bit about how much I respect Mr. Moore, but I could never really express how deep that respect goes," said Perkins. "It was made very clear to me from the beginning to very end that it's never about how heavy this box becomes. This was his most priceless lesson. In the end, this is just copper and thread. The real value in this program comes from the people we meet, the losses and victories that shape you and the voice that you cultivate. So I would like to thank Center High School and the board for allowing me to have those things, and I hope that we continue to allow those things for other students."

Dr. Morris confirmed with Perkins, the Center High School graduate will be attending Stephen F. Austin State University and Watlington will be a senior this year. He congratulated them both and stated they have made Center High School very proud and stated he is a great supporter of UIL Academics and their value.

Dr. Morris gave recognition to Jesse Ruiz, Amanda Curby, Gail Cagle, and Shelly Norvell for being instrumental in helping get F.L. Moffett cafeteria cleaned out and set up for campus employees to be able to meet in a social distanced environment.

The board considered revisions to local policies EI, FEC and FFAA.

Dr. Morris explained the proposed revisions.

"EI Local, we had choices this year when chapter 37 came out through TASB with all of the policy stuff," said Dr. Morris. "One of the options that we have on here is whether or not to issue certificates of completion to students who have completed all of their school work but not yet completed the STAAR examinations, the EOC test."

The school district's policy from the past year was not to give certificates of completion to those students, but to allow them to walk in the graduation ceremony. The recommendation of the school administration to the school board was to change EI Local to read that the district shall issue certificate of course work completion to a student who fails to meet state requirements.

"If they pass all of their classes for 13 years and the only thing keeping them from getting a diploma is a test, then we want to give them a certificate of completion," said Dr. Morris. "They've completed everything that we've asked them to do."

Dr. Morris explained FEC Local, methods for regaining credit or for awarding a final grade. Texas has a 90% rule the student must be in class 90% of the time the class is offered in order to receive credit for that class.

"Sometimes things happen, kids get sick, parents get sick, kids move from district to district to district and they're not able to meet that 90% rule," said Dr. Morris.

The administration recommended to the school board a way to regain credit for those students whose attendance has dropped below 90%.

"When a students attendance drops below 90%, but remains at at least 75% of the days that the class is offered, the student may earn credit for the class or final grade by completing a plan approved by the principal," said Dr. Morris.

He explained the plan must provide for the student to meet the instructional requirements of the class as determined by the principal. If the student fails to succesfully complete the plan, or when the student's attendance drops below 75% of the days of classes offered the student, parent, or representative may request a reward of credit by final grade or by submitting a written petition to the appropriate attendance committee.

The plan would be to help those dealing with extenuating circumstances that prevent them from meeting the requirements, such as sickness or moving. 

"Of course we're going to push attendance, our district attendance goal is 97%," said Dr. Morris.

According to Dr. Morris, FFAA is a simple change to TB screening. All students entering district schools for the first time from another state, or another country in any grade shall provide evidence of having received tuberculosis screening in accordance with regional and county health department guidelines.

The previous policy only included other countries and not other states.

A motion carried by the board to approve all three policy changes.

Dr. Morris reported the last wing of F.L. Moffett is to have new floors being installed next week, and teachers are able to get into their classrooms at this time.

"It looks like, unless something crazy happens between now and the 24th, we will have kids in classrooms ready to go," said Dr. Morris.

Flooring on B Hall is being installed now and flooring in the gym bringing F.L. Moffett closer to completion. Air conditioning units were being installed today on the roof.

Turf has been completed on the football field and the track is being striped. The foundation is being addressed in the Middle School project behind the new wing at the old Intermediate School, and a great deal of dirt has been hauled in for that projefct.

A bond payment is due and is $700,000, which Dr. Morris said they will increase significantly.

Dr. Morris announced a list of newly hired employees, and they are the following:

Molly Amburn, teacher - Center Elementary School
Marilyn Ballard, diagnostician - F.L. Moffett
Michael Hudpeth, teacher - Center High School
Laura Ornelas, teacher - Center Middle School
Angelette Powell, teacher - F.L. Moffett
Amy Samford, teacher - Center High School

The meeting was adjourned at 12:39pm.

Agenda items approved during the meeting include:

1. Notice for a Public Meeting to Discuss Budget and Proposed Tax Rate at 12-noon on August 26, 2020. Proposed budget is $25,330,551; proposed M&O tax rate is $1.0547; proposed I&S rate .3025: proposed total tax rate is $1.3572.
2. Consent Agenda items:
7. 1. Minutes
7. 2. Tax Office Report
7. 3. Monthly Financial Statement
7. 4. Payment Approval
7. 5. Investment Report
7. 6. Overnight Student Activity Trips
7. 7. Amendments to the Budget
7. 8. Applications for Federal Program Grant Funds with Texas Education Agency: Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) and CARES Act's Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF)
3. Revised Local Policies (EI, FEC and FFAA).
4. Adjourned 12:39pm