By Bill Short
Members of the Millington School Board discussed a Five-Year Master Plan last week that the municipal school system’s administration has proposed for the district.
Matthew Bowser, district coordinator of planning and supervisor of Student Data Management, presented the plan last Thursday night during a Work Session in the Conference Room of the system’s Central Office.
Dr. David Roper, superintendent of Millington Municipal Schools, noted that this is not the system’s first Five-Year Plan, but an “update” that is proposed to extend from now through the 2022 fiscal year. He said the proposal will be submitted for approval at the board’s Aug. 7 meeting.
“When we plan out five years in advance, we don’t set things in stone,” Roper acknowledged. “We give our best vision of what we think we’ll be able to do based on what our needs are and what we believe our resources will be to meet those needs.”
Because he is a resident of Millington, Bowser said he is “vested” in the proposed plan, which he called “a labor of love” for him. He noted that the school district’s goals, “pulled directly” from Board Policy 1.700, are to:
(1) secure stability in local funding;
(2) provide multiple quality educational paths for students, with an emphasis on Fine Arts and Career/Technical Education;
(3) recruit and retain knowledgeable, qualified and caring staff;
(4) demonstrate fiscal responsibility and accountability;
(5) engage parents and the community to actively support students and programs; and
(6) provide a state-of-the-art learning environment
To implement those goals, Bowser said the district has organized its work into four departments: (1) Instruction, (2) Student Services, (3) Personnel and (4) Operations.
While noting that each section of the proposed plan has the same “layout,” he said it includes a departmental statement and goals. Then, it lists the established current year initiatives, as well as those planned for the 2019 fiscal year and beyond.
Citing an Instruction Department goal to expand Millington Central High School’s Career and Technical offerings, board member Chris Denson asked what the plan proposes to expand.
Roper said mechanical, electrical and plumbing have been added to the CTE. He noted that the system is always doing an “assessment” to determine whether it is offering what the community needs.
“In the coming years, we might do another CTE offering in the medical and health field or something in the construction field,” he said. “It’s just an annual review that we’re going to be doing to expand.”
If there is “not much demand” for a certain area offered in CTE, Roper said the system might replace it with another one.
He also noted that some of the Instruction Department goals have a specific year associated with them, while others do not. As an example of the latter, he cited improving ACT scores to meet the districtwide goal of a 21 composite score.
“We want to keep making the progress that we started making, but that doesn’t happen overnight,” he acknowledged. “We have ACT Prep classes now at the high school that we feel are helping us get the kids better prepared to take the test, instead of just kind of going in blind.”
Jill Church, supervisor of Special Education and Student Services, said the 2018 graduating class will be the first where students with disabilities are able to “access” three diploma options. Along with the General Education and Special Ed diplomas, she said an Occupational Diploma will now be available.
“Students who are not looking for a regular diploma must have two years of work-based learning,” Church noted. “This will be our second year of work-based learning.”
The proposed plan states that, during the upcoming academic year, the Millington Family YMCA will coordinate with Millington Middle School to administer and oversee a Youth Mentoring Program designed to help improve student performance in four areas: (1) grades, (2) office referrals, (3) tardiness and (4) absences.
Citing the Personnel Department goals, board Vice Chairman C. J. Haley asked whether the administration “plans out” professional development, so it knows what it will be doing on each day of the school year.
Roper said it has a “general” knowledge of what will happen on those days. As an example, he noted that teachers will report on July 31 and have “multiple professional development things” that first week.
Bowser said most of the system’s professional development is “proactive,” because it is based on data from previous years.
“But some of it is reactive,” he acknowledged, “only because the state throws in initiatives. And we have to accommodate what it has put out.”
Another Personnel Department goal is a Differentiated Pay Plan for hard-to-staff positions in the areas of science, math, foreign language and Special Education.
Roper noted that, when the system develops that plan each year, it must be submitted to the Tennessee Department of Education for approval.
“Finding good math and science folks at the secondary level is not too easy,” he acknowledged. “Special Education is on there, because it’s beginning to be more of a problem finding good Special Ed folks.”
Roper said one of the planned future initiatives for the Operations Department is a $15 million expenditure in the 2021 fiscal year for construction of a new elementary or middle school. But he noted that the system is hoping to acquire Lucy Elementary School.
He said the Shelby County School System has proposed constructing a new school and closing Lucy Elementary in the 2020 fiscal year. So, if the Millington system acquires that building, its students can occupy it in August 2019.
But if that does not happen, Roper said the local system would “start making plans” to have a new facility constructed in the 2021 fiscal year.
“If we acquire Lucy Elementary, there would surely be some costs involved in getting it just like we want it,” he acknowledged. “But the building would be an excellent addition to our district.”
Roper said that, as the Aug. 7 meeting approaches, the proposed Five-Year Master Plan will be “posted,” so residents can see what the board will be asked to approve.
Bowser said “two media resources” will be used. The plan will be available on a PDF and also on “something that looks like a Web site.”