Rash succeeds Todd Tefteller as board president. Trustees also elected Mike Tackett to succeed Rash as board vice president and reelected Gloria King as secretary.
Tefteller arrived just after the board’s 5-0 vote, with Rash abstaining, to elect Rash president. The board then voted 6-0, with Tackett abstaining, to make him vice president, but Mrs. King voted for herself for secretary to make her election a unanimous 7-0 decision.
Southwell and Mrs. Camp won last Saturday’s board election, and were sworn into office by Judy Moore, secretary to School Supt. Rick Albritton. Southwell replaces appointed incumbent Charlie Cano, who was defeated Saturday for election in his own right.
The school had an award to present Cano in appreciation for his service on the board, but he was absent Tuesday night because he was “busy,” Albritton told trustees.
The board canvassed election returns, which showed that 567 persons—less than six percent of the school district’s registered voters—cast ballots in the election
In official returns, Southwell led the field with 304, while Mrs. Camp drew 288, Cano had 259, and Margaret Ann Vick Doonan received 181.
In other business Tuesday night, the board approved raising cafeteria meal prices at each campus by 25 cents.
Albritton said the move was needed because the federal government requires the prices exceed the reimbursement level the school receives.
Student meals will now cost $2.25 at the elementary and intermediate campuses, $2.50 at the junior high and high schools.
Before Southwell and Mrs. Camp were sworn in, Gilmer High School Principal Greg Watson made a presentation to the board on “co-teaching” of math, saying the presence of two teachers in a classroom simultaneously has improved student scores in that subject.
In opening discussion of the matter, Albritton said the approach costs money, but has been “very effective.”
Watson said his campus’s success in mathematics also resulted partly from doubling the amount of daily class time for students who most need help. It has risen from 50 minutes to 100.
In co-teaching, Watson explained, two teachers are in a class of 20 pupils. While one instructor writes on the board, the other moves around and the next day, the teachers may reverse those roles.
If 15 of the students grasp a concept, Watson said, one teacher might work with them, while the other works with the other five.
“It (co-teaching) has a lot of different looks that it could take,” he added. Watson also said that if one teacher is absent, “it doesn’t stop instruction.”
“We probably have more math teachers than we need,” the principal said, prompting Albritton to respond, “We have more math teachers than required.”
“That’s a much better way to put it,” Watson said, drawing laughter.
“It (co-teaching) has made a difference,” the principal added, so much so that other schools see it and “ask what we’re doing.” Albritton added that in 2010, 94 percent of students per campus passed math.
The superintendent added that the district spends funds “on a lot of academic programs. This is just one.” He said co-teaching “has really progressed over the last four years.”
Rash praised the high school for a “good job,” and said that a good headline for the newspaper article on Watson’s presentation would be “Football takes a back seat to math.”
“And the buck doesn’t stop at Buckeye Stadium,” Mrs. King added.
Watson added that the co-teaching in math would also help science scores.
In other major business Tuesday night, the board approved the low bid of $20,524.49 on purchasing a new phone system from iFAX Solutions Inc./Telephony Depot of Philadelphia, Pa.
Albritton said the current phone system is “coming to its end of life,” and GISD Director of Technology Rusty Ivey said parts for it are “becoming very difficult to get” because they’re no longer manufactured.
Ivey said all 170 of the district’s phones must be removed because phones in the current system “don’t work with anything else,” but that the new system will have many features the current one lacks.
He also said the new system can handle 64 calls simultaneously.
When Rash asked about the possibility of selling the old one, Ivey said he didn’t know who would want it. But Albritton said the school could try to sell it.
Tackett expressed appreciation to the school’s technology department for its expertise allowing the school to save money.
Tefteller then asked what the school’s policy was on teachers using e-mail. Albritton said, “Their first responsbility is to teach. They are not supposed to be answering e-mails during the day.”
Ivey said that if teachers misuse e-mail, they lose the privilege of having it for personal use, and Albritton said disciplinary action is taken against instructors who abuse it.
Albritton also said it was important for teachers not to do too much personal business by e-mail at school because their e-mails are public. Said Ivey, “We’re required to keep them for five years.”
In other business Tuesday night, the board approved a resolution asking the Texas Legislature to “reexamine the public school accountability system in Texas” because there is “over-reliance on standardized, high stakes testing.”
The resolution charges that such testing is “the only assessment of learning that really matters in the state and federal accountability systems (and thus) is strangling our public schools and undermining any chance that educators have to transform a traditional system of schooling into a broad range of learning experiences that better prepares our students to live successfully and be competitive on a global stage.”
In part, the document says students should be “learning at a deep and meaningful level, as opposed to the superficial level of learning that results from the current over-emphasis on that which can be easily tested by standardized tests.”
The statement further alleges that “imposing relentless test preparation and boring memorization of facts to enhance test performance is doing little more than stealing the love of learning form our students and assuring that we fall short of our goals.”
The resolution asks the legislature to “develop a system that encompasses multiple assessments” of learning.
Albritton told the board that “We don’t believe high-stakes testing (a 1-day test) is the only way to monitor performance of job.” He said students need to be “thinkers.”
In other business Tuesday, the board:
• Employed some teachers after holding a closed session on personnel, Mrs. Moore said.
• Approved student transfer requests for 2012-2013. The school charges transfer students $200 per semester.
• Approved renewal of liability insurance for underground fuel storage tanks with the same company and price as last year.
• Approved budget amendments.
• Certified Albritton as GISD’s representative to the Regional Advisory Committee of the Kilgore-based Region 7 Educational Service Center for 2012-13.
• Approved the financial, tax collection and quarterly investment reports.