In addition to routine items on the agenda such paying the bills and considering a request to hold a community dance event at a district high school, board members have a full schedule this evening.
Among other business, they will hear a report from Superintendent David McGehee and will consider changes to district policies.
Primarily, the superintendent’s report will focus on legislative updates. He will provide a list of education-related bills pending in Missouri’s General Assembly, which is currently in session.
“While there are many agendas finding their way into the legislative process, three big picture themes remain as the vehicles for most education-related proposals,” McGee wrote in his report, adding that most of these bills are “not positive” for public schools.
According to McGehee, state legislators are considering changing the way the state funds public schools. Another concern is that legislators have proposed bills that may allow students from unaccredited districts to transfer into or be absorbed by accredited neighbors. Also, some legislation may allow more charter schools in the state, which would divert funds from existing public schools.
Two district policy changes are also on tonight’s agenda.
First, the board will consider approving a policy that would allow administrators the option to schedule flexible time for non-certified employees as an option to overtime. Such flexibility would allow the district to offer time instead of pay when the budget is tight.
Second, the board will consider approving a policy regulating staff communication with students online. According to SB 1, a rewritten version of the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act passed during the General Assembly‘s special session this fall, all districts must adopt policies concerning employee-student communications, including electronic communications, no later than March 1, 2012. The statute was controversial enough to attract national media attention because of concerns that it might violate First Amendment rights to free speech. According to the Missouri State Teachers Association, which is the organization suing the state over this bill, the concern is that they may now have to fight the constitutionality of this issue in every district instead of just on the state level.
Responding to the state legislature’s directive, the Missouri School Boards’ Association (MSBA) has distributed a model online communications policy to members. The Lee’s Summit policy is evidently based on the MSBA’s. Printed at the top of the draft policy is the following message:
Senate Bill 54 (2011), Senate Bill 1 (2011 Special Session) and the contents of this policy have received an extreme amount of media attention. For this reason, MSBA recommends that administrators and Board members read this policy carefully, discuss the policy with the employees impacted, and consult the district’s private attorney prior to adopting this policy.
The board meeting, which is open to the public, is taking place in the Board Room of the Central Office; 301 N.E. Tudor Road; Lee’s Summit, MO 64086.
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