School official outlines notification system for students’ parents

School official outlines notification system for students’ parents

By: Chris Menees Messenger Staff Reporter

By CHRIS MENEES
Messenger Staff Reporter
Obion County Director of Schools David Huss believes a parent notification system could be “a very, very useful tool” in many ways.
He pitched the concept and presented a special study committee’s findings to the Obion County School Board during its monthly session Monday night in the commons area at Obion County Central High School.
Huss said parent notification systems have the capability of calling 4,000 phone numbers in about 10 minutes’ time using a computerized server. He said they can be customized with an emergency message in any emergency situation but are also useful for relaying non-emergency messages such as those announcing events, tests or even alerting parents of a child’s being absent from school.
The Obion County School System does not currently have a parent notification system but the system is utilized in neighboring Weakley and Lake counties.
Huss said no bids have yet been accepted for a system for Obion County and nothing has been approved. Monday night, he was seeking the board’s feedback about whether to pursue the system further. He said cost estimates range from about $8,600 to $12,000 per year, depending on the system purchased, with the fee being assessed per student no matter how much the system is used or how many messages are posted.
The parent notification system committee — comprised of Obion County School System personnel Adam Stephens, Craig Rogers, Jason Kendall, Darbin Ousley, Dale Hollowell and Julie Kendall — looked at demos from three different companies that sell parent notification systems. They included Alert Now, School Messenger and Connect-Ed.
Huss told the school board that Alert Now is the most prevalent system being used in this area, adding that it is used by Lake County, Lauderdale County, Bradford Special School District and Hardin County. School Messenger is used by Rutherford County, while Connect-Ed is used by Weakley County.
The committee reported that representatives of the school districts that use the parent notification systems were all very favorable in their comments about the usefulness of the systems utilized. All of them mentioned that parental feedback was almost universally positive.
Huss said the board is under no obligation in just pursuing more information about parent notification systems.
“I think it’s worth pursuing,” board chairman Roger Williams said, drawing the consensus of other board members.
In other action during Monday night’s lengthy meeting, which was opened with prayer led by vice chairman Jimmy Smith, the school board:
• Recognized 16 teachers who were recently granted tenure for the 2008-09 school year. They included Black Oak Elementary principal Sheila Stone and teacher Melissa Cutler Jones; Hillcrest Elementary teachers Shantelle Carter, Dawn Ramsey, Amanda Spicer and Stephanie Traverse; Lake Road Elementary teacher Angie Partin; OCCHS teachers Rebekah Carman and Laura Pitts; Ridgemont Elementary teachers Amy Burcham, Joshua Nance, Richard Tant Sr. and Kristy Vincent; South Fulton High School teacher Greg Barclay; South Fulton Middle School teacher Leah McFarland; and Obion County Career Technology Center teacher Jeremy Roney. (Editor’s note: A photo of the newly-tenured teachers will appear on the Education Page in Wednesday’s edition of The Messenger.)
• Approved on first reading, with the second reading waived, an amendment to board policy regarding the standard dress code. Huss said the updated policy includes some recommendations from administrators and committees in order to clarify some issues and simplify the standard dress code. He said the goal is for teachers to be able to tell if students are dressed to meet code as soon as students enter a school building.
Huss said there is little change to the policy for students in pre-K through fifth grade. For those in grades 6-12, the amended policy allows some clothing items that previously were not allowed and simply requires students to come to school appropriately dressed. “It looks like it simplifies it,” Smith said.
• Approved the second and final readings of policies pertaining to separation practices for tenured teachers, non-tenured teachers and non-certified employees; military leave; and the director of schools’ recruitment and selection.
• Approved the first readings of amendments to policies regarding physical assault leave and accounting for athletics. The physical assault policy was clarified with the addition of a phrase, while the accounting for athletics policy included a change that will ensure that all schools are using the same accounting method for athletics and will streamline the process in order to benefit everyone involved, according to Huss.
• Granted approval to the first reading of a new policy regarding bereavement leave for support personnel.
• Approved amendments to the 2007-08 fiscal year budget, many of which also need to be brought before the Obion County Commission for approval. Huss said all of the amendments involve either new revenue or the transferring of funds with the exception of one amendment for escalating fuel costs that comes out of fund balance.
• Granted approval for salary supplements for teachers who have worked athletic events. However, it was noted that the practice has been reviewed and a policy will be in place by later this summer, with Huss adding that he expects policy to be followed in the future. Athletic and student activities director Robert Powell said he doesn’t believe there was any intentional wrongdoing but said the practice has not been consistent.
• Approved a request to hold instructional sports camps and the payment of related salary supplements. Once all expenses of the camps are paid, the remaining monies will be distributed to instructors as supplemental wages.
• Approved South Fulton High School classroom presentation technology bids. Huss said $27,500 in funds have been accumulated by the school and the board has an additional $25,000 available to complete the classroom project. In addition, the board granted approval for Hillcrest Elementary to purchase off the same bid as South Fulton. Huss said Hillcrest has $20,000 available, with no match from the board.
• Granted approval to three overnight trips, including those for South Fulton High School’s Beta Club, OCCHS’ FCCLA and OCCHS’ Health Occupations Students of America for national competitions.
• Approved a consent agenda that included a monthly personnel report; monthly financial reports and business activity; a monthly substitute teacher report; recognition of an overnight student trip for South Fulton Elementary School’s Gifted Class to Mammoth Cave National Park and Kentucky Down Under Onyx Cave, both in Kentucky; and recognition of the granting of tenure for Black Oak Elementary principal Sheila Stone via recognition of appointment as principal for the 2008-09 school year.
The personnel report lists medical leaves of absence for Cindy Rock of Ridgemont Elementary and Jean Clark of South Fulton Elementary and a medical leave for alternative school teacher Kirk Paitsel; the retirements of OCCHS teachers Tom Rice and Donna Gallimore, Lake Road teacher Judy Hampton, South Fulton Elementary teacher Robbie Johnson and Ridgemont teachers Linda Stephens and Marshall Campbell; and the resignations of Lake Road teacher Angie Searcy and Hillcrest teacher Angela Davis.
The substitute teacher list approved for the month includes Ellen Rice, Deborah Chitwood, Lindy Ingram, Miranda Darnall, Letha Barnes, Bernice Walker, Kandy Morphis, Brittney Cooper, Shari Screen and Elizabeth Hoffman.
• Expressed appreciation to OCCHS’ culinary arts students for providing refreshments prior to the board meeting.
• Heard from several OCCHS culinary arts and FCCLA students who recently fared well in competitions to advance to the national level.
In addition, student Shannon Trout shared with board members about a project in which OCCHS textiles students made dresses to send to underprivileged women and children in Honduras.
• Welcomed Obion County Mayor Benny McGuire and a couple of Obion County Commission members who were in attendance.
School board member Rodney Taylor was absent from Monday night’s meeting.
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by e-mail at cmenees@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 5.13.08

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