Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dr. McIntyre Featured at Lotts Elementary School Tonight

The A.L. Lotts Elementary School PTA had their Founders Day Family meetings, tonight. Cub Scout pack 346 had the presentation of the colors and led the group in the Pledge to the Flag.

Between 50 and 75 individuals were in attendance for the meeting. Karen Carson, a former Past President of Lotts PTA, the School Board's Vice Chair and the Representative for the area was NOT in attendance. NO other Knox County School Board Member was present either.

The Principal, Mrs. Lenn announced that there will be NO SCHOOL on Monday and Tuesday February 16 and 17, 2009.

Three fifth grade students represented three of the founders of the National PTA. They read from the passage "I Dared to Dream."

The PTA recognized the Past PTA Presidents of Lotts Elementary School – The Past Presidents attending were Julie Kirkland, Debbie Monroe, Deborah Britt, Jessica Willis and the Immediate Past President Marca Hance. Two PTA Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented. They were given to Parent Volunteer Carol Lindsey and Immediate Past President Marca Hance.

Richard Swan, the Lotts Elementary PTA Legislative Committee Chairman introduced Dr. James P. McIntyre, Jr.

Dr. McIntyre talked about the shared vision of the future for Knox County Schools. "Building On Strength: Excellence for All Children" He cited A.L. Lotts is an example of having built a solid foundation. The same foundation that we want all of our students to have. He said that Knox County has 79% high school graduation, while that is the envy of most urban school districts. It is not good enough for Knox County and we should do better. There are three pillars to Knox County Schools shared vision. Students, Teachers and Staff and Parents and Community.

He said that Students are at the center of all that we do. We must recognize that 21% of our students are NOT making it and we should recognize what they need and deliver it. We must send the message that we care that they are there and we want them there. He talked about creating small learning community centers in each high school. He talked about that if every child has one caring adult in their school building they are more likely to succeed and graduate on time.

He said that Knox County is a metropolitan school district made up of urban, suburban and rural schools. He said that this is an advantage. He said that currently all leaders are not on the same page within our urban schools. That is my job and we will be setting goals for getting us all going in one direction for our urban schools. He also credited Knox County's Birth to Kindergarten as a great program.

When he talked about Teachers and Staff. It breaks down with Principals and Teachers. With School Principals. He said that Leadership Matters. Mrs. Lenn and Mr. Nidiffer have been here as the Principals. Principals make sure they have a great team and are great leaders. We need to be more purposeful in developing Principals. He told a story about a boy that asked him what does a Superintendent do? He explained it and then the boy looked at him and said so, your the Principal of the Principals. He replied back to the boy well, yes that is what I do. He said so I want to be the Principal of the Principals.

With the Teachers He has visited 65 of the 86 schools. He has seen great education but also has seen some places where we need to improve. He was a teacher 15 years ago and as a first year teacher he did not have collaboration with the other teachers. He would like to see teachers working through a PLC- (Professional Learning Center). Where teachers are planning together, developing lesson plans together and mentoring younger teachers.

In regards to Parents He said we can not do this alone. We want parents to be apart of the learning process. We need to be inviting parents to be a viable contributing partner with us. You need to know everything that you can so that you can work with us.

With regards to Community it is about partnership, infrastructure and working together. It is about accountability. We need to do what we say were going to do. We need to put students at the center of very everything that we do.

He discussed the upcoming budget. He said that there is a maintenance of effort that we expect to be honored. In essence that mean that the school district expects to receive at least the same amount of money that they received last year. The school district is looking at savings in facilities and at Central Office. We will be looking at schools, that is not where we want to focus. But we want to be ready day one of next school year with a teacher in the front of every classroom. We are implementing a staffing formula. A formula that is equitable, fair and transparent. We will reduce 60 or so positions. We believe that we will reach those through retirement and attrition.

At this point his formal presentation ended and questions that had been written and submitted before the meeting started were asked by Mr. Swan.

What do you think of foreign language in the elementary schools? At a conceptual level, YES. At our current budgetary resources level it would be challenge. Each school with have some autonomy in school site decision making. Principals could make room for such abilities in each school site budget.

A question about students with diabetes and other medical needs was asked. The parent rose and expanded her question. She said that her daughter views the school nurse Ms. Ilene is her mommy at school. The parent said that at West Valley Middle School, the situation there exists as it once was here. She said that a parent has puled their child out of public education at WVMS in order to home school and provide adequate health care to their child. I would hope that you could bring parents of students with disabilities and health concerns together for an open forum. And do not cut out nursing. He said there is a lot in your question. We recognize students health and wellness. We are concerned because the state is proposing cutting the state health coordinated grant money. We also have some partnerships with the schools. The health department is coming next week to the board meeting to make a presentation. He said that Missy Massey, Director of Special Education was present at the meeting tonight and has had parents at the Sarah Simpson building for brainstorming sessions.

What impact if any will the state reductions have? He again cited maintenance of effort should provide level funding. Even though there is litigation in Shelby County about that issue currently.

A question about Year Round School? He said that is a great question. We just completed a 24 month discussion on school calendar. The crowd laughed. He said I do not anticipate opening that back up. The school district will work with the Y and others to align summer courses to what we are doing. That is where our focus will be.

How do we get more parents involved? He cited the researchers that have built the Family Friendly Schools concept.

He was asked what is your interpretation of least restrictive involvement? He desires more inclusion.

At this point it was opened up to anyone to ask a question. Harry Paris said there has been a lot in the news about text book content. How can we be confident that our textbooks are true and honest and not revisionist? McIntyre said that we take seriously the process for adopting text books.

A Mother of 3 kids, new to the system, been in several other states talked about the teachers are doing a great job of teaching facts. But not doing a good job with problem solving. She asked about taking away testing in order to teach problem solving and using your facts to achieve a solution. McIntyre said that much of our testing is federally mandated. Parallel block scheduling is on it's way and Lotts will receive it next year. That should help.

A school nurse talked about how she is blessed to have Lotts as my only school. Before I was a traveling nurse between 5 schools and it seemed we were just putting out fires only dealing with medical emergencies. She also asked about staffing cuts especially at Farragut High School these upper level classes, the students need them. Her daughter is concerned about losing her AP French course. McIntyre mentioned that the state ratio is 20-1. He is coming out the FHS to speak with the PTA in the next week or so. They are expected to lose 200 students over the next couple of years. They project a significant reduction at Farragut High School due to the Hardin Valley Academy.

A gentleman mentioned that during the past 8 years there has been an increased attention to testing. It reduces teaching time. McIntyre said they need to do enough forward testing to see where the child is and where they need to go. He also asked McIntyre about NCLB (No Child Left Behind). Will it change significantly? McIntyre believes that the new administration and the new Secretary of Education will change NCLB.

At this point it ended and McIntyre did a Better Than Great job.

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