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|Revision rejected, MOU approved|
A crowd of nearly 100 heard the Franklin Parish School Board reject demands to revise the state-directed agreement intended to raise performance scores at Winnsboro Elementary School Monday night.
Following a period of intense discussion, a vote to eliminate specific language in the document was defeated in a 4-3 vote – preventing the need to resubmit the Department of Education's 26-page Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The meeting was held in the Franklin Parish School Board auditorium following a regular monthly agenda meeting.
Several members of the teaching staff at the school spoke during the meeting on behalf of their support for Fay Philips, principal at WES.
Sixteen of those educators wore matching T-shirts bearing the phrase, "It's the Principal of the Thing."
Many voiced concerns that the administration at WES was not given an opportunity to offer input in formulating the plan.
"It seems to me that someone working with those children on a daily basis, sees the ups and downs and experiences these problems could have offered valuable input about what works," said Evelyn Dean, teacher and former principal.
The major point of debate was the listing by BESE of the administration at WES as a "barrier" to effective school improvement.
"The state consultants are the people that developed the question which asked about barriers in school improvement," said board member Jesse Young. "We have to acknowledge that the Louisiana Comprehensive Curriculum is not being followed."
Administrative staff members at WES requested that the local board amend the MOU to omit the term "barrier" from the answer, citing an upward trend of test scores and their willingness to improve education. In 2008, the SPS growth increased from 36.9 to 49.5, the highest improvement percentage in the state.
"My biggest concern was that the state not take over the school, and everyone lose their jobs," said Supt. Johnson. "The MOU does not implement anything that we haven't been trying to do in education for years. The question is, have we been doing what we need to do?"
A roll-call vote was taken by the board to amend the MOU to omit the inference that the administration at WES was a barrier to school improvement. Voting "nae" to amend the MOU were, Jesse Young, Dorothy Brown, Tim Eubanks and Louise Johnson. A roll-call vote was also taken to accept the proposed Memorandum of Understanding issued by BESE and the State Department of Education. Voting "nae" to the plan as is, were Richard Kelly and Ronnie Hatton. The MOU was adopted by majority vote.
"I'm disappointed with the vote," said Fay Philips, "and I'm also disappointed with the board members and Dr. Johnson for not allowing the staff at Winnsboro Elementary School to have input before it was approved."
The plan will now be sent back to the Department of Education and will become effective at WES in June of 2009.
During the business portion of the regular meeting of the school board held before the special meeting, Johnson announced a possible decrease in the teaching staff due to a loss of students.
In June of 2004, 35 teachers were cut from the payroll due to financial problems within the school system. According the Supt. Johnson, 10 to 12 more could receive the same fate.