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Delayed Action: School Board votes to postpone its approval of Five-Year Master Plan

By Bill Short
Millington Schools logoThe Millington School Board voted unanimously this week to postpone its approval of a Five-Year Master Plan proposed for the municipal school district.
Board members made that decision Monday night during their regular monthly meeting.
Dr. David Roper, superintendent of Millington Municipal Schools, noted that the proposed plan was the subject of “an in-depth discussion” at the board’s July 13 Work Session in the Conference Room of the school system’s Central Office.
The plan was presented by Matthew Bowser, district coordinator of planning and supervisor of Student Data Management.
Roper has 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.
“When we plan out five years in advance, we don’t set things in stone,” he has 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.”
Bowser has noted that the school district’s goals are “pulled directly” from Board Policy 1.700. To implement those goals, 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,” Bowser has 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.
Shortly before the vote at Monday night’s meeting, Mark Coulter recalled that some of the other board members were not present at the Work Session. He said “more discussion” is needed on the plan.
“I think there are some things that we need to add into that,” he said. “We probably need a little bit more detail.”
Roper said that, since July 13, one board member has suggested changing a word in the first district goal listed on Page 5 of the plan. So, “secure” was replaced by “maintain” to acknowledge the “collaborative work” between the Board of Mayor and Aldermen and the school district that has achieved “stability in local funding.”
“To my knowledge, that was the only suggestion, as far as the change was concerned,” Roper said. “Not a single other word was changed in the document that we discussed at some length on July 13.”
Coulter said he was told that no one has requested a five-year plan for the installation of Astroturf. If that is true, he said, he would like that to be included in the Master Plan.
But Roper said that omission does not mean it cannot happen. Because the plan is not a “budget,” he said it does not commit “specific expenditures” in specific years.
Board Chairman Cody Childress said many things that the school system will be doing are probably not “listed separately” in the plan.
“When it comes to the Astroturf, we want the school to spend as little as possible on it,” he acknowledged. “I think getting advertisement and sponsors for it is going to be our big goal. I believe that’s how the other schools have done it.”
While noting that all the members of the Master Plan Committee are Central Office employees, board member Ronnie Mackin asked whether principals, teachers, parents and “community stakeholders” were involved in developing the plan.
Roper said that, over “a number of months,” the administration sought input from the schools’ principals regarding what they consider to be their needs for the “immediate” as well as the “distant” future, so they could be prioritized.
“We wanted input from them,” he noted, “so that it wasn’t just the Central Office saying, ‘Here’s what we’re going to do for you, Millington Elementary, and for you, E. A. Harrold. That’s not the way we operate.”
Mackin said he asked the question because the fifth goal listed for the district is to “engage parents and the community to actively support students and programs.” He said the plan mentions expansion of dual enrollment among the Instruction Department goals but not Advanced Placement classes.
“We’ve got parents who voiced their concern about AP classes,” Mackin noted. “So, if one of our goals is parents and community engagement, shouldn’t it be on a plan that engages us for the next five years?”
Oscar Brown, supervisor of Operations and Transportation for the district, said parents “don’t hesitate” to call the principals and express what they want to see done at the schools. And the principals communicate that information to the system administration.
Board member Chris Denson said postponing the approval vote will give all the members “one more opportunity” to review the plan.
“This way, we don’t have to exhaust a tremendous amount of time,” he said. “We can come back to it next month. It’s not going to stop anything budgetary if we do that.”
While announcing that the board will “take another look” at the plan during its Aug. 17 Work Session, Childress said, “Hopefully, we can have everybody there.”

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August 2017
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