The Enterprise Board of Education approved a revision to board policy 2.22 during a Sept. 24 meeting, which now requires residents fill out a form to speak before the board during regular meetings.
Interim Superintendent Jimmy Baker said the requirement allows the board to discuss an issue prior to a meeting and gives them time to respond appropriately.
Though previous policy stated that requests to speak be submitted in writing, it’s been a standing practice in recent years to let those in attendance get on the agenda before a regularly secluded meeting, if they desired.
“This does set a time limit as well,” Baker said. “I’ve looked at policies all over the state, and I think it’s appropriate to set a time limit, no matter who is speaking.”
Baker recommended that a link to the form be posted on the system’s website, but the form is not currently available.
The link should be posted on the system’s website, enterpriseschools.net, by the beginning of October.
A hard copy of the form can also be picked up and submitted at the system’s central office.
In other business, the board approved changes to the way it funds several positions within the system.
Chief School Financial Officer Brian Stewart said federal funding requires a position be eliminated if a system wishes to change the way that position is funded.
For instance, if a position is funded by federal tax dollars and a system wants to use local dollars to fund it, the position has to be eliminated and “recreated” for the funding to transition.
“If you fund a higher-paid teacher with state funds, the state gives more money because they fund by teacher units instead of a dollar figure,” Stewart said. “This is the net result of moving around a lot of people. It doesn’t affect any personnel and it doesn’t eliminate or create any positions. It just changes the way we fund them.”
In other news, the board went into a lengthy executive session at the request of Interim Attorney Roger Bates.
Bates said the board needed to discuss a pending issue with possible legal ramifications, but due to the nature of issue no more details were given.
In other business, the board agreed to begin the process of laying out a new capital plan, which could guide system purchases and practices for up to 20 years.
“A capital plan has to coordinated with the education program,” Baker said. “To me, it’s a sophisticated piece of business and one the board will have to spend a considerable amount of time debating.”
Baker recommended the board address the capital plan in a working session, the time and date of which has not been set.
“During the work session, we could talk about the capital plan and the changes we’re in the process of making regarding the financial operation of the school system,” Baker said. “We also need to discuss the efforts we’re making to upgrade the academic program in concert with the (Alabama) State Department of Education (ALSDE).”
In other news, State Rep. Barry Moore presented a $9,000 check to the board to help fund performing arts programs in the system.
The funds, which came from an Education Trust Fund (ETF) grant, are a part of Moore’s discretionary spending.
“Each year we divide this money up based on school populations in the county,” Moore said. “I try to always make sure we’re fair about how we use this money.”
In other business, the board agreed to create a committee to evaluate pricing options for use of the Performing Arts Center at Enterprise High School.
Board member Bert Barr, Stewart and PAC Manager Justin Hope agreed to serve on the committee, which will re-evaluate some of the proposed price increases and how they could affect non-profit organizations that use the facility.
“Some of these non-profits make a huge impact on our students and the students in the county,” Baker said.
Baker also informed the board of an easement the system is granting to the Enterprise Fire Department station adjacent to Dauphin Junior High School.
The station needs an additional 20 feet of land, which is currently owned by the system, to expand its driveway.
The easement will allow fire trucks to enter and leave from the rear of the building.
In other business, the board approved a request from Child Nutrition Director Julie Harmon to advertise bids for new ovens at Rucker Boulevard Elementary School, DJHS and Enterprise Junior High School.
Following the normal business of the board, former DJHS principal Perry Vickers addressed the board about comments made during recent meetings.
“There is a mess happening,” Vickers said. “All of the comments (that have been made recently), I can’t argue with. Those who have made these comments and who have expressed their displeasure by attending these meetings are not the ones who have caused this.”
Vickers said misguided actions by board members Gloria Jones and James Brown caused recent frictions among Enterprise residents.
He also said those actions were instigated by Board Chairman Ross Cotter.
Jones and Brown both asked their names not be brought up again, and Brown asked that Vickers refrain from personal attacks.
Vickers said he and other concerned parties want to make sure the school board isn’t currently being used as a political platform.
“If some of you on the board truly cared about our system, you would have heard what we’ve said and done what we’ve asked, and that is to tender your resignation,” Vickers said. “Should this happen, you would gain the admiration and the appreciation of the city. If you choose not to, I can assure you that we will not go away nor will we be silenced. The noise that will be made here will reverberate all the way down to city hall.”
Vickers said it would benefit the city for Mayor Kenneth Boswell to return to the practice of appointing board members who are parents of children currently enrolled in the system.
Vickers also said limiting board members to one term would prevent the board from being exploited in the future.