"You made me cry," Highland School Board President Donna Shaw said, as she accepted an American flag from Highland graduate Jake Holder, to start the Tuesday, May 8 school board meeting.
Holder, a member of the 127th Military Police Company, has spent the past year working in Afghanistan provinces to train Afghan soldiers and police.
Holder explained he arranged for a flag to be flown above the base where he was assigned. A letter of certification says, "This flag was flown for Highland High School on Sept. 11, 2011 at an American base used in the war on terrorism."
Holder, who was wearing his uniform as he appeared before the board, said he knew of other Highland alumni who have been to Afghanistan and Iraq, and expressed hope, "It (the flag) can get put somewhere in the school so that young kids coming through can look at it and know that this is where one of their fellow alums has gone - and come back home."
Holder's presentation was roundly applauded. He said he intends to be living back in the Highland area in six to eight weeks, as he was headed to Colorado to "transition out," after six years in the military.
The main discussion during the board meeting concerned choosing a winner out of four local banks who submitted bids to handle the district's banking business.
FNBC has been the district's bank, but the contract is expiring. All five area banks were sent specifications and invited to bid for a new three year contract.
"We opened those (bids) yesterday (May 7), and you can kind of compare and decide which one you want to go with," said Superintendent James Floyd. "I think they are pretty much the same, except for interest paid on accounts. You can see those vary. I think FNBC had the highest fixed rates (of interest)."
As board members looked at the bids, Shaw said she noticed one bank was offering profit sharing on credit cards.
Floyd explained Purchase Cards or "P-Cards" are a new service some school districts and universities are trying.
According to Floyd, some vendors who do business with schools choose the option of being paid by credit card at the time of delivery, instead of submitting invoices and waiting for payment. The vendors agree to pay a service charge on the card, and banks share the profit on the card with the school the vendor serves.
Floyd said it was an interesting concept, but the district would need to check with school auditors on whether the state accepted P-card usage.
While contractors and vendors are not normally allowed to lobby after bids are submitted, Joel King of Iberia Bank asked from the audience, "Is it proper to make a comment on that?"
King's bank had offered P-cards as part of its bid, and superintendent Floyd responded, "Yes, go ahead and do a clarification on this, since we are discussing that."
A 17 minute discussion ensued, as King explained again how the cards work, and how they could become a tool to help the school district receive additional revenue.
Superintendent Floyd said, while the P-card sounds promising, receiving fixed rate interest is a more predictable way for the bank to manage its money -- even though interest rates are at an all time low.
Since FNBC had offered the highest fixed rate, board member Theron Isaacs suggested it might be best to stay with the "status quo."
King persisted, saying his bank's offer may be a better investment, if interest and 1% cash back on the P-card are figured together.
"I'm working for the business," King said. "I don't mean to be rude. I don't see it apples to apples (as his bid is compared with others)."
"I wish you wouldn't offer that (P-cards in the bid), and just give us a fixed rate so it is apples to apples." Shaw said.
Shaw was apologetic to King, saying perhaps the school district can determine how many vendors would be interested in the P-card, and try to determine what the savings would be over the next year.
When King offered to contact school vendors to judge their interest in the P-card, Board member Renee Clay-Circle said, "I want you to, because we need to save every penny we can."
In the end, Isaacs made a motion that the three year contract for school banking business go to FNBC. The motion passed unanimously.
In other business, the board accepted bids for 19 new windows, along with bids for trash bags, paper products, cleaning products, propane, surveillance services and fire extinguishers for the next school year.
Early in the meeting, school principals and the superintendent were asked to outline their efforts to keep faculty and staff informed.
|They all discussed using staff meetings, e-mails and private conversations to make sure their employees are informed, and have the opportunity to ask questions or raise concerns. After the presentations,||Shaw said staff members who say there is not good communication must be a minority, and, "It sounds like you guys (principals) have got it covered."|
After an executive session to discuss personnel matters, the board voted to approve six transfers of current staff, and five new hires for next school year.
Staff changes include transferring Rebecca Short from Cherokee Elementary Principal to District Special Education Supervisor.
Tracy Webb was selected as the new elementary principal. Webb, who is currently assistant superintendent, will retain those duties.
Elementary Librarian Beula Sharp will transfer to middle school librarian.
Cindi Hansen will transfer from seventh grade girls basketball assistant to assistant junior high girls basketball coach. She will retain the position of assistant senior high girls basketball coach.
Kevin Grissom was named assistant junior boys basketball coach.
Jason Stevens was named assistant junior high boys basketball coach.
Under new hires, Amanda Gates was selected as a middle school teacher, Joseph Duncan was hired as secondary art teacher, and Ashley Lewis was hired as a home economics, English and careers teacher. Sarah McCandlis and Julie James were named as new elementary teachers.
All recommended classified personnel were rehired for the 2012-2013 school year.
The next regular meeting of the Highland School Board is scheduled for June 12 at 6 p.m. at the Central Office.
The public is invited to attend.