Pampa school board approves corporal punishment, loyalty/incentive programs

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The Pampa Independent School District board of trustees held a regularly-scheduled meeting on Monday evening.

The Pampa News sat down with superintendent Tanya Larkin to talk about the meeting and what actions the Board approved.

Ahead of the routine items, the Board held a public hearing on the Texas Academic Performance Report for Pampa ISD.

This hearing is an annual requirement to share the most recent academic performance and is based on last year’s STARR and EOC exams.

“It’s very old information, but it’s just an annual requirement to do the public hearing,” Larkin said. “I went through the changes in the report and the indicators for all of the different areas.”

That report can be found here at Texas Education Agency’s website https://bit.ly/3c8E9Re or a hard copy can be picked up at the Administrative Office located at 1233 North Hobart Street.

The Board then approved the consent agenda, but separately approved a memorandum of understanding between Pampa ISD and Frank Phillips College.

This was so Larkin could clarify to the Board what the MOU was about.

“That’s an opportunity for the Frank Phillips Nursing School to come and do rotations with our school nurses,” Larkin said.

The Board approved the financials and also approved the property casualty insurance. Each year the District examines its insurance policy and providers. Traditionally, the District works with the Texas Association of School Board’s risk-pool providers, which has continued to increase on an annual basis. But this year, they had a proposal from Property and Casualty Alliance of Texas (PCAT), who has a local provider with Insurica.

“We looked at the proposal and our chief financial officer (Todd Hubbart) worked with the companies to examine the policies and the Board, like a lot of school districts, went with PCAT because it’s more affordable and better coverage,” Larkin said.

The Board held a budget workshop just to set the ground-work ahead of going into budget season later this spring.

The Board approved the course catalog for 2020-21 to reflect any terminology or legal changes to programs.

“This year our pre-AP courses at Pampa Junior High are going to be called honors courses,” Larkin said. “That’s because the college board who governs advanced placement have changed some of their policies and procedures for that. We also changed up some of the course-sequencing for some of our career-technical programs to be more aligned with State and Federal guidelines.”

The Board approved a loyalty and longevity incentive program for teachers starting in 2020-21.

“It’s a small amount, they approved $300 per contracted employee that we offer an extended contract to,” Larkin said.

The Board, in a 4-3 approved move, voted to reinstate the student discipline local policy in regards to corporal punishment.

“They’ve been talking about the policy since August and we have done surveys, focus groups, research, testimonies, etc.,” Larkin said. “The Board has taken an exhaustive look at whether or not to reinstate the corporal punishment policy the District once held. It’s been a very difficult decision for the Board because they see both perspectives.”

Larkin added the 4-3 split is reflective of where people stand on the issue and stressed no corporal punishment will be practiced without the approval of the parents and each case will be treated on a case-by-case basis.

Richard Qualls, Matt Brock, David Godino and Luis Nava voted in favor of the policy. Cay Warner, Denise Intemann and Lance DeFever voted against the item.

“I’m really proud of our District’s approach to having the conversation and investigating everything,” Larkin said. “No matter where you land [it’s important for you to] respect the process, and I think we did a really good job of making sure all voices were heard. The Board had to make a decision and they made a decision based on what they think is the best thing. Even though it was a 4-3, we will move forward with it.”

The Board has also approved a compensation plan for high-need, hard-to-fill positions. Larkin said the teacher shortage both in Texas and nation-wide has led to a difficulty in filling positions.

“Regionally, the Texas Panhandle needs 500 teachers to fill vacant positions,” Larkin said. “We’re always short in the Panhandle. All over the state there are thousands of positions that need filled every year. 

“I know at the start of the school year this year, Hector County had 400 positions unfilled. We’re feeling that locally, but there are harder to fill positions. These spots change and our toughest places to fill are our specialty units (special education, emotionally-disturbed, autism, etc.). It takes a special person with high skill to fill it.”

Larkin added Pampa Junior High coaches are also hard positions to fill because many young teachers/coaches want to move to the high school level to coach varsity sports. 

“We want to get people who want to stay there long-term for consistency for the kids,” Larkin said. “So we identified six to eight core positions that are tested as a high-need, hard-to-fill positions.”

The Board approved a plan and now those positions will be named and when filled, those employees will receive a $3,000 stipend. After the first year, the District will do an impact study to see how effective the new policy is.

The Board approved the following items:

Consent agenda 

• Approve board minutes: Jan. 23 

• Action to approve a memorandum of understanding between Pampa ISD and Frank Phillips College 

• Approve revisions to policy EHBB(LOCAL): Special Programs:  Gifted and Talented Students 

• Action to approve 2020-2021 e-rate services

Action items

• Regarding board member participation in PISD strategic and visioning.

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