SEAFORD SCHOOL DISTRICT
Seaford, Delaware 19973
SCHOOL BOARD MINUTES 13 SEPTEMBER 2010
The Seaford Board of Education met in regular session on Monday, 13 September 2010 with the following members present: Mrs. Suzanne Farris, President; Mr. Clint Dunn, Vice President; Mrs. Katy Kimpton; Mr. Frank Parks; and Dr. Russell Knorr, Superintendent and Executive Secretary. Student board member Molly Cain was also present. Pastor Carlton Cannon was not present.
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. by Mrs. Suzanne Farris, Board President.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Motion: To approve the late agenda. (Dunn/Kimpton: Unanimous vote [4-0] in favor of the motion)
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Motion: To approve the minutes of 16 August 2010. (Kimpton/Parks: Unanimous vote [4-0] in favor of the motion)
Mrs. Suzanne Farris, on behalf of the Board of Education, recognized the following members of the Seaford School District professional staff for achieving tenure:
Robin Andrus Mary Baldwin Jamie Bell
Cindy Blackwell Dana Bowe Giffen Bowen
Joseph Croce Brent Evans Kimberly Davis
Angela Wilson Beth Kopicki Denise McConville
Susan Stephens Beth Tyler Alyson Bates
Edith P. Vincent Award
Mrs. Jeanne Dukes of Nemours Health & Prevention Services, presented the Edith P. Vincent Award, which recognizes best practices in health, nutrition, and physical activity, to Mrs. Renee Clarke of West Seaford Elementary School and some of her students who researched, wrote, and illustrated the book Fruits and Veggies Rock. Mrs. Dukes also presented Mrs. Laura Burke and other members of the Central Elementary staff with the same award for their efforts and the efforts of their students in creating, overseeing, and harvesting the vegetables from a garden which, in turn, were given to Nutrition Services.
The following members of the public spoke on matters of prayer at board meetings or prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance at board meetings:
Mrs. Carolbeth Lambert:
Well, I came here this evening to say that I’m definitely in favor of restoring the prayer and the Pledge at the board meetings as well as in the school. This county was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. Our founding fathers laid that out for us. There’s nowhere in the Constitution where it says that there should be separation of church and state. That was the judge’s interpretation. What the founding fathers wanted for us when they were speaking about the state was to keep the state out of our religious freedom to keep the state from preventing us to have freedom of religion. The founding fathers were a very religious people. I realize that some people are afraid of a possible lawsuit and what I’m saying to you is that because of that fear you are compromising your principles and your honor; that fear is guiding you. I am willing to have my tax dollars go to defend this if this would come to a lawsuit and a lot of you know that the Indian River School District has already won a battle; it’s going to be appeals court and I think that this is the time to jump on board and back them. Strike while the iron is hot. It’s time to do what’s good for the whole; not just the one. I’m always hearing people say that they’re afraid we might offense so and so. I am a Christian. I’m offended that you’re not allowing me to pray. I understand that there are other religions and everybody has the freedom of religion and I would encourage everyone to pray. Another thing that I want to say is it’s time we get back to religious instructions which I’m noticing in this little pamphlet that was handed out – item #5 I believe it is – that you are able to go off campus for religious instructions. We did this when I was a child, which obviously was a hundred years ago, but it was important to my development and my upbringing and I think it would be very helpful to today’s children as well. So, again, I’m in favor of the Pledge and the prayer.
Mr. Doug Lambert:
I’ll make mine pretty short and sweet. Basically, I am also in favor of both prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. I’m a twenty-year Navy veteran retired from Vietnam, and it was important when I was a child; it was important when my children were in school, and I have six of them, and everyone of them know the importance of God and country and everything else and what it stands for. Even if the prayer is a silent prayer, there should be a prayer in school and by golly we should be supporting that flag everyday that we live here. That’s all I’ve got to say.
Mr. Frank D. Cannon, Jr.:
My name is Dan Cannon. I taught thirty-one years in this district. I retired, thankfully, three years ago and I’ve really basically not been back. But I am back because of what I’ve been reading about and I’d like to say first, let me comment Mr. Frank Parks, and indeed all the citizens who volunteer as members of the school board and school boards around the nation, for being willing to donate his time, his energy, and his talent toward the betterment of our community and especially our schools.
But for anyone who had the time or inclination to listen to Mr. Parks speak before he was elected, it was/is clear that he has his own personal “agenda” for education. That agenda includes to make his religion or religious beliefs part of the teaching and learning in the Seaford School District.
Undoubtedly, Frank Parks has support from parts of our community.
However, are this religious agenda for our teachers and students, as well as the tactics being employed to implement this agenda, are they wise and appropriate for state funded, state controlled, public schools? I would suggest that they are not wise and they are not appropriate based on the following lines of thought: The Constitutional prohibition in spite of what was said previously; 2. The use of public monies for education; the wisdom of our forefathers; 4. What I call rudeness and arrogance.
In the Constitutional prohibition, in the “Establishment Clause” of the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States says that the government or state is, in effect, prohibited from making laws that establish or promote or sponsor religious activities. Our schools and education systems are established by laws, rules, and regulations formulated by the federal, state, and local governments including our school board. Clearly, the inclusion of Mr. Parks’ personal religious beliefs, or anybody else’s personal religious beliefs, as part of the rules, laws, and regulations in our state-run schools would violate one of the fundamental laws of our land. More properly, Mr. Parks should take his case to the elected Congressional representatives to initiate a change in the U.S. Constitution by amendment. Once that amendment is successful, then he should bring his concerns to the Seaford School District for implementation.
Use of public monies for education – The schools are funded by taxes and while virtually everybody pays taxes in some form or another, when if you want to introduce religious instruction in the schools, it costs money; it costs my money, your money, everybody’s money. Whether we’re Jewish, Muslim, or we don’t have any faith, that would be totally unfair and is virtually absurd.
The remaining three paragraphs were not read aloud by Mr. Cannon but were a part of his statement that was made available at the board meeting:
Wisdom of our forefathers. Without belaboring the point, the people who dreamed up the principles of the U.S. Constitution were pretty bright by all accounts. And Jefferson, Madison, and others had the benefit of living ~200 years ago, much closer in time to when “state” sponsored religion(s) trampled on the rights of citizens to practice/not practice their personal beliefs. It was with this insight into the history of “state” sponsored/enforced religious reliefs that our forefathers thought it wise to keep government (federal/state/local/school boards) out of the religion business and vice versa. Frank Parks may be well intentioned, but our forefathers got this right.
Rudeness and arrogance. While I have no personal comment about whether Frank Parks is either “rude” or “arrogant” (his words), I suggest that we consider the following facts: a) Mr. Parks knew that the Seaford Board of Education agenda called for a “Moment of silence”; b) Mr. Parks undoubtedly knows the meaning of the words “moment of silence”; c) Mr. Parks chose to interrupt the moment of silence at the first school board meeting he attended; d) Mr. Parks not only made no apology for his interruption but, in essence, justified his interruption by saying, “I believe that is what (my) God wants me to do”. Please make your own decision in this matter.
Finally for these and other reasons, the co-mingling of religious/”church” and secular/”state” matters (including prayers during the “moment of silence” at meetings of the Seaford Board of Education) is at best unwise and unfair and at worst illegal and immoral.
Mrs. Dana Caplan:
I said a few things before the meeting started, but I’m here as a mom of three boys and I’m here as a transplant from Los Angeles. I happen to be Jewish and I respect and admire everyone on this board. I feel like kind of an outcast at times, but we’ve been made to feel very welcome most of the time but when I’ve heard about what’s going on in the schools, in the board meeting, I think there’s a point when I have to say wait a minute. Not just because I’m Jewish; it’s because we have so many different faiths and cultures now here. We have Hindu; we have Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and everyone is entitled to believe and do as they wish, but in a school that I pay taxes for, everyone has to either be recognized or no one. It’s just the fair way. My kids, who are wonderful and I adore them, have felt excluded many times. It’s not our fault; it’s no one’s fault. But it’s just because of where we live. But as I said before – things are changing and we need to be sensitive and we need to open our minds. It doesn’t mean that anyone is better than anyone. I’m the first one to say be a good person; that’s all I want you to do. But we need to be sensitive. Frank, you’re a dear friend, but there are some things you don’t understand about what we spoke about and until then I think it’s just unfair of you to think that because you’re saying the Lord’s Prayer, which happens to be from the Old Testament, and that’s where we’re from, but you said your prayer before and ended it in Jesus’ name. I think if we’re going to do something like that, you can’t do that because, to me, yes, he was a wonderful person, but in my religion, there’s just God. We just believe in God. So when you told me in, you know, whatever it was you said about Jesus accepted everyone, right to me, it just said again you don’t understand. So you have to learn, if we’re going to do this, we have to include everyone which is going to be impossible because someone’s going to have something to say about all the time about something. But we need to understand this can’t be. If my kid goes to school and I want to send him to a religious school, which I do on Sundays and Wednesdays, I pay a lot of money, take them to Salisbury. It’s a private school. These are public schools and everyone has the right to go to school and learn about education, not about religion. If I want to do that at home, that’s my business and really, no offense to anyone at all. I respect everyone but it’s something that at this point I just felt as if I had to say something. Thank you.
Statement from Glen Mellin, read by Mrs. Farris:
Under “Public Complaints”, I, Glen Mellin, a Seaford School District taxpayer, hereby register my public complaint in the matter of Mr. Frank Parks, Seaford School Board member, verbalizing a specific prayer (Lord’s Prayer) of a specific religion (Christian) during recent in-session School Board meetings for the school year 2010-22. Due to his public actions, I feel insulted and demeaned. I feel Mr. Parks’ public indiscretions have violated my civil liberties.
Proposed resolution: Mr. Parks should make all attempts to refrain from introducing, or re-introducing specific forms of myth and mysticism into our publically funded, liberal arts, evidence based educational program. The Board should resolve that his public indiscretions cease immediately. If Mr. Parks continues with this line of callus public behavior, the Board should resolve to censure his public participation. Thanks for your time.
Statement from Linda Truitt, read by Mrs. Farris:
We already have a system in effect that respects the rights of all individuals, regardless their beliefs. A moment of silence has worked for years and includes everyone. We should not be held hostage by any group or individual that has little or no regard for the money our school system will incur should a law suit be filed. As a school tax payer, I want my tax dollars and the school board’s attention to be focused on our students and their education, not on reciting the Lord’s Prayer at board meetings. Thank you for your time.
Mr. Wayne Rigby:
I’m Wayne Rigby from Seaford. I retired from the Seaford School District after teaching thirty years. I’d like to support the efforts of the Seaford School Board, a compromise on this issue, and to uphold the First Amendment of the Constitution, the duties regarding separation of church and state, and the non-establishment of religion clause of the Constitution while allowing freedom of religion and speech. When I came in today, Mr. Parks gave me a little pamphlet called “Free to Speak” about what the U.S. Department of Education says about public school students’ religious liberties. To the best of my knowledge, in thirty years as a teacher, the Seaford School District was in compliance. I have not heard of any great changes with all things listed there except perhaps the pullout, and I can’t see how physically you can pull students out and have them make up work. As a teacher, that would have been a great handicap. Are you going to allow them to be pulled out for karate and other things that their parents want to do too? But almost everything else was there. Years ago, I had a principal come to me when I was department chair and say “There are students out there praying around the flagpole. What should we do?, and my answer was we should do nothing. They have a right to do that and we did nothing and they did. Many of these things are non-issues, I think.
Mrs. Julie Rigby:
I’m Julie Rigby and I also retired from the Seaford School District. I taught at the Middle School for years. I think one thing we’re missing here is the beauty of a moment of silence. A moment of silence is just that. I have observed thousands of moments of silence, sometimes I’ve seen students visibly and actively praying; some have not, but it’s an opportunity for each one of us to have our own personal moment. Anyone who believes that there is not prayer in schools has never handed out a math exam. My concern here is that I elected, we elected, the community elected each one of you to govern, not to pursue personal agendas. I have observed board members for over forty years, and the most effective ones I have seen justified their actions by one simple standard: Are the things I’m doing helping students to learn, mature, and become productive members of society? For any member of the Seaford Board of Education to stray from that standard is a waste of our time and our votes. We need you to focus on students. If you haven’t noticed lately, there are many needs in the Seaford School District. We need to focus on that and not on personal agendas. Thank you.
Reports and Presentations
FY10 Final Financial Report
Mrs. Donna Blackburn, Director of Administrative Services, reported that the Seaford School District’s discretionary funds revenues, through the end of June, totaled about $14 million, approximately 2% more than what was projected for the 2009-2010 fiscal year. The district collected 101% of the projected tax collections, including current taxes and delinquencies. Discretionary State and federal stabilization funds represented 39% of the district’s discretionary available funds.
The district spent 65% of its discretionary expense budget, most of which was in local salary obligations (81% of total discretionary fund expenditures).
· As previously discussed, School budget expenditures exceeded budget as our schools prepared for the implementation of the new State financial software.
· Primarily as a result of energy conservation efforts, budgeted dollars for local support of energy costs were preserved.
· In our Set Aside accounts, we spent 7% of the budgeted amount; the balance represents those items not scheduled for replacement in FY 10.
The district’s revenues from all funding sources totaled about $52 million, 73% of which were program-specific (federal, construction, state, etc.). Once again, at the end of the fiscal year, the Seaford School District remains fiscally solvent and responsible while simultaneously maximizing resources to meet the educational needs of our students.
Elementary Principals’ Reports
Mrs. Paula Johnson, Director of Elementary Education, began this report by noting that Learning Focused Strategies, as researched-based exemplary practices, are being implemented in the district’s elementary schools to increase student engagement and learning. Learning Focused Strategies are being used in “90/90/90 schools”, which are schools that have 90% of the students on or above grade level as measured by state assessments, have at least 90% of students qualifying for free or reduced meals, and have at least 90% of the students from ethnic minorities. One component of Learning Focused Strategies is that of “pre-viewing”, which was implemented during the summer academy. Instead of remediation, the focus of instruction was to build background knowledge for the upcoming school year.
Another initiative across all of our elementary schools was the addition of a Fast ForWord Lab. Fast ForWord is a research based computer program designed by the work of Dr. Paula Tallal of Rutgers University, which has confirmed that the brain can reinvent and reconfigure itself throughout life with frequent, proven brain exercises which focus on memory, attention, processing and sequencing. Finally, schools implemented formative math assessments through a University of Delaware pilot in which teachers used Daily Practice Problems to analyze student work to form small groups for intervention.
Each of the school principals (i.e., (Ms. Susan Nancarrow, Blades Elementary; Mr. Rob Zachry, Central Elementary; Mr. Travis Moorman, Frederick Douglass Elementary; and Dr. Todd Fishburn, West Seaford Elementary) highlighted activities and accomplishments at their respective schools. These included a variety of activities, programs and professional development opportunities conducted to enhance the culture of the schools and the achievement of the students. For example, students participated in activities such as Math Olympics, the Stock Market Game, and DestiNation Imagination. All schools implemented strategies related to Positive Behavior Support Teams, which recognized positive student achievements and behaviors while teaching students school expectations. In the area of community involvement, the schools participated in book drives, “Locks of Love”, Guyana Relief, and the AFRAM festival.
Ms. Johnson concluded the report by noting that as we look ahead to the 2010-2011 school year, implementation of Learning Focused Strategy and transitioning to the Common Core Standards will be our main goals. Teachers will receive three days of training on various LFS topics such as writing acquisition lessons, student learning maps, and how to use formative and summative assessments. Teachers are currently writing acquisition lessons and will be designing student learning maps based on the Common Core Standards this spring. Although the schools face many challenges, the elementary teachers and administration are confident that our students will receive a quality educational experience to enable them to be “good citizens, contributing members of society, and to successfully compete in a global economy.”
Board Member School Reports
As part of one of its priority goals, “To improve communications and relationships with the staff, parents, and other community members”, each board member “adopted” a school and was to attend its events and report back to the entire Board at public board meetings. The reports are as follows:
Blades Elementary – Mrs. Farris reported that the Blades school year was off to a good start; that students were dressed well, adhering to the new student dress code; that the multiage classes and the large kindergarten class were functioning well; and that the open house was a success.
Central Elementary – Mr. Dunn commended the staff for the smooth transitions that had to be made in order to make accommodations for the influx of new students at the school, noting that Mr. Zachry did an excellent job working with parents to make those transitions successful. He also reported that there is a community walk scheduled beginning at the school on Thursday, 16 September beginning at 6:00 p.m.
Frederick Douglass Elementary – Mr. Parks reported that he has visited the school and things seem to be in good order. He has also been asked and has volunteered to serve as a mentor in the Big Brother/Big Sister Program.
West Seaford Elementary – Mrs. Kimpton reported that she attended the open house and that the attendance of parents was very good. She also noted that she is participating in one of West Seaford’s initiatives by signing the “7-Minute Pledge” and that the student dress code is being followed very well by the students.
Middle School – Mrs. Farris reported that things are off to a very good start at Seaford Middle School and that the dress code is being followed very well by the students. She also reported that the Safe School Ambassadors Program, a very successful program at the school, was being continued and that “Parent Power” is being initiated. She also reported that the Seaford Instrumental Music Academy (SIMA) appears to be off to a good start.
Mrs. Kimpton reported that she had attended the ribbon-cutting of the outdoor fitness area (as had Mr. Parks) at the Middle School. The fitness area is in the courtyard of the Middle School and consists of a variety of stations to improve student physical fitness.
High School – Mrs. Kimpton reported that attendance at the open house was very good and that the morale of the staff and the students seems to be very good. She noted that the students seemed to be buying in to the new student dress code. She also noted that if anyone had missed the Seaford School District faculty music recital, they missed some very good performances, and she hoped that there would be a second recital. Mrs. Farris noted that she has received a lot of praise for Dr. Smith for stepping into the leadership role of the school and for the way he has handled the transition and, on behalf of the Board, she thanked Dr. Smith for that and for doing a wonderful job at the High School.
DSBA Board of Directors’ Report
Mrs. Kimpton, the Seaford Board of Education’s representative to the Delaware School Boards Association Board of Directors, reported that soon, all board members will be receiving more information about upcoming DSBA events. She reported that at the last meeting, there was discussion about the federal jobs bill and the fact that the new DCAS testing program of the State would be raising the bar for students. She also reported that there is an upcoming DSBA fall clinic on 13 October and the annual DSBA meeting.
Continuing Business: Policy Review (2nd readings)
Motion: To approve a new policy, “Interscholastic Sports: Sportsmanship” (JJIB), at its second reading. (Dunn/Parks: Unanimous vote [4-0] in favor of the motion)
INTERSCHOLASTIC SPORTS: SPORTSMANSHIP JJIB
The Seaford School District strives to develop and maintain a comprehensive athletic program that seeks the greatest development possible of its participants within the framework of the total district educational program. The goal is to promote physical, mental, and social growth through athletics in an effort to instill positive attributes that will remain with the student throughout his/her lifetime.
The highest standards of sportsmanship, ethics, and integrity must be upheld in all aspects of the athletic experience. The essential elements of character-building are embodied in the concept of sportsmanship. The six core principles the Seaford School District promotes include: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and good citizenship.
It is the duty of sports leadership including coaches, athletic administrators, and program directors to promote sportsmanship and foster good character by teaching, enforcing, advocating, and modeling these ethical principles. All sports must be conducted in a manner that enhances the mental, social, and moral development of athletes and teaches them positive life skills that will help them become personally successful and socially responsible.
The Seaford students/athletes participating in any school athletic program will adhere to the policies and eligibility standards set forth by the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association and the Seaford School District.
Motion: To approve a revised policy, “Agenda Format” (BEDB), at its second reading. (Dunn/Parks: 3-1 vote in favor of the motion [For: Dunn, Parks Farris; Against: Kimpton])
AGENDA FORMAT BEDB
The regular order of Board business shall be as follows:
A. Call to Order
B. Pledge of Allegiance
C. Moment of Silence
D. Approval of Agenda
E. Approval of Minutes
F. Public Participation (Citizen Questions, General Comments, Requests, or Presentations)
H. Continuing Business
I. New Business
J. Long-Range Agenda
The business of the meeting will normally be considered in the order in which it appears on the agenda except that the presiding officer may, at his/her discretion, vary the order of procedures.
Except as otherwise announced, regular meetings of the Board shall begin at 7:00 p.m.
Any item which does not appear on the agenda as distributed to the Board members shall be considered for formal action only upon majority consent of the members present.
REVISED: 9/13/82, 8/25/86, 4/27/92, 7/19/04, 9/13/10
School Choice Applications Recommended for Approval
Motion: To approve the following school choice applications:
Parent’s Name Student’s Name Grade/School
Jessica Todd Dylan Todd 4/BE
Shannon Warren Trinity Gumby 1/BE
Rene Solonge David Savilus 12/HS
(Dunn/Kimpton: Unanimous vote [4-0] in favor of the motion)
Financial Position Report
Motion: To approve the Financial Position Report as per 14 Delaware Code, Subsection 1507. (Dunn/Parks: Unanimous vote [4-0] in favor of the motion)
Motion: To approve the following personnel action items:
Professional Staff Resignations
Kendra Wagner, Speech Therapist, Sussex Orthopedic Program, effective 7 September, 2010
Andrew Quinn, English Teacher, Seaford High School, effective 24 August 2010
Support Staff Resignations
Melissa Smith, Secretary, Seaford High School, effective 31 December 2010 for the purpose of retirement (Mrs. Smith has been employed with the Seaford School District since 16 September 1974.)
Richard Nibblett, Custodian, Seaford Middle School, effective 3 September 2010
Professional Staff Appointment
Shannon Johnson, English Teacher, Seaford High School, effective 26 August 2010 TEMPORARY for the balance of the 2010-2011 school year
Leaves of Absence
Heather Gallaway, English Teacher, Seaford High School, unpaid leave of absence according to Family Medical Leave Act effective 12 September 2010 (pm) until 24 September 2010
Kenneth “Jake” James, Elementary Teacher – Grade 1, Blades Elementary School, unpaid leave of absence according to FMLA effective 9 September 2010 until 27 September 2010
Extra Duty Resignation - Fall
Chanelle Evans – Cheerleading Asst-HS
Extra Duty Appointment - Fall – Non-Athletic – Employee
Chanelle Evans - Cheerleading Advisor- HS
Extra Duty Termination - Fall
Sean Iannucci – HS JV Football
Extra Duty Appointments – Athletic - Fall – Non-Employee 2010-2011 School Year (DIAA 22.1)
Bailey Noel – HS Field Hockey Asst.
Department/Grade Level Chair Appointments – 2010-2011 School Year
Colleen Payne – MS team 6-1 leader
Jeff Futcher – MS team 6-3 leader
Wayne Hobbs – FFA advisor
Extra Duty Appointment – Non-Athletic - Fall – Non-Employee 2010-2011 School Year
Candy Niblett- Cheerleading HS asst
Emily Whitaker – Cheerleading HS volunteer
Parent Service Provider based on Race to the Top Grant
Kim Ewing – Central Elementary School
Kim Ewing – Seaford High School
Tracy Niles - Seaford Middle School
Summer School Appointment
Seaford Middle School – Bill Cox
(Kimpton/Dunn: Unanimous vote [4-0] in favor of the motion)
Personnel Information Item
Amended Date of Hire
Robin Andrus 8/16/10 (originally approved 8/17/10)
Motion: To enter into executive session for personnel matters. (Kimpton/Parks: Unanimous vote [4-0] in favor of the motion)
The Board adjourned from public session at 8:20 p.m.
The Board met in executive session from 8:31 – 10:02 p.m.
The Board adjourned at 10:02 p.m.
RUSSELL H. KNORR