TPS Board approves pay increases for some

Aug. 23—The Tahlequah School Board of Education discussed a handful of negotiated agreements during an Aug. 22 meeting.

The board passed two pacts — one with the Tahlequah Educational Support Person Association and the other with the Tahlequah Education Association. Tahlequah Public Schools Superintendent Tanya Jones said the main issue established was pay raises for all certified people and administration, all of which are dependent on years of experience. An updated law required the change.

A meet-and-confer agreement for administrative and supervisory personnel for the 2023-'24 school year was also accepted, as well as a revision to the superintendent's contract for the next three school years. The meet-and-confer deal was made to encompass the rest of certified staff and faculty not covered by TESPA or TEA.

"I am a certified teacher, but the new law did not cover superintendents, so if they were going to give me this, like every other certified person in the state, they had to vote on it separately," said Jones.

During the monthly financial reports, the board approved a transfer of $942 from the Cherokee Elementary account, which was due to a depositing error. A request was also approved for the addition of a new activity account for the Jim Wilson-All About The Kids fund, which will allow donations to be made for negative student lunch balances.

Jones said the district is trying to set up an electronic way of payment for the donation fund, but it is currently only able to take donations by check at the Board of Education Office.

The board accepted another request for a new activity account, but this one was for Bright Futures, an organization set on removing barriers for students to assist with academic and social success.

"That is establishing a subactivity account. That way when someone makes a donation to Bright Futures, it goes into its own account, so we can keep it separate from everything else," said Jones.

Several supplemental service agreements were approved, ranging from working concession to providing adult education classes for the 2023-'24 school year.

"They're all very typical contracts. They might not necessarily be a renewal because they might be different people, but it's like people that work at the concession or gate stand, or they work with band," said Jones. "They hire people to do the sound or work with the color guard, and those are always separate contracts."

The board also approved memorandums of understandings, with one being between TPS and the Tahlequah BEST Coalition and another for the Boys & Girls Club. Both were for the the Tigers Full-Service Community Schools Grant for 3.3 years or 40 months; Jones said such ongoing grants have to be redone. A memorandum with Northeastern State University will also be available to partner with the NSU Social Work group.

"We give an OPN, an Oklahoma Prevention Needs, assessment is something we have to give to high school age students that helps us gather data on their decision making," said Jones. "Are they vaping? Are they drinking? Are they doing any risky behaviors? So they are going to work with us to gather that data, and then use the data we get — without children's names — in a study for their doctoral program."

Meal prices for the 2023-'24 school year were also approved, with no changes from the previous year. Elementary lunches will be $3, secondary lunch will be $3.25, elementary and secondary breakfast will be $2, adult/second breakfast will be $2.50, and adult/second lunch will be $4.85.

The final District Procedure Manual for the current school year was approved by the board.

The board also gave the nod to a policy for a diabetes medical management plan, which Jones said was already in effect but there was nothing specific on paper yet. The plan is used to let the school nurse and school administration know what to do in the event of a medical emergency involving diabetes.

"It was a procedure or policy we already followed, but it wasn't in policy," said Jones.

An attorney-client fee contract was approved with Frantz Law Group APLC, regarding a social media lawsuit. Jones said the district is agreeing to enter into a lawsuit that will be going after certain social media outlets to prove they are causing harm to students.

"I would agree that they are [causing harm to students]," said Jones. "That's one of the things that as a district that we see is very harmful to our students — the social media that they are on at an early age. So we have joined with many other school districts, and some in this area, into this large lawsuit, trying to get them to maybe not target such young children with platforms like that."

The board approved a guaranteed maximum price amendment regarding the changes on the Greenwood Elementary storm shelter addition and renovations and additions for Cherokee Elementary.

"We voted on on a guaranteed Maximum Price — that's what GMP stands for — for Willowbrook, and within that contract we had furniture where we would have purchased like a library desk or library shelves. Most of that is going to be built in instead of purchased, so we needed to change the person we were paying. We're not spending any more money than what we were. We're just changing who we're paying," said Jones.

What's next

The Tahlequah School Board of Education will meet again Sept. 12 at 6 p.m. at the Board of Education Office.