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Update: PCSSD Superintendent holds emergency meeting | News

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Update: PCSSD Superintendent holds emergency meeting


Superintendent Charles Hopson called the meeting to clarify his role. He mentioned at times lines have been blurred and he doesn't want to be micro-managed. He reminded folks he is committed to the district and its future.

The talk then turned to teachers' contracts.

Hopson says, "I'm committed as your superintendent to helping that strategic plan become a vision and reality to this district but I just need your support to help clarify my performance objectives."

After Hopson stated his reason for calling the meeting, the podium was open. Board members talked about needing effective communication and regaining trust from the school district.

Board Member Gwen Williams said, "I personally would like to see the contracts on the December board meeting."

According to Board President Bill Vasquez, there are thousands of employees without a contract. The revised contract has been up for negotiation for a year and a half, but Tuesday some board members and Hopson admitted never reading it.

PACT President Marty Nix was surprised, "It's just frustrating when it keeps going on and on and on when you could have some closure."

Also on the table a 2 percent teacher raise, but Hopson is worried about fiscal distress.

Board Member Gloria Lawrence looked at Hopson and said, "I'm going to say this about as nice as I can and I'm going to try to be really respectful. We had to change the bell schedule so we could buy a million dollars worth of buses so we could have two or three more programs so we could have hundreds of thousands of dollars and how many administrators have we added? Now you tell teachers and support staff, we have nothing for you. That doesn't sit right. If it wasn't for teachers and support staff we wouldn't need administrators."

There is currently a 1.5 percent reserve for raises figured into the budget, PACT members believe their request will not create financial problems. Board members now agree to have a budget workshop and discuss the contract after everyone reads it.

Hopson spoke with Today's THV after the meeting ended. He said, "We are going to look at the possibilities of the contract and what options exist for raises if there are any because I support our staff and faculty about getting the best possible benefits."

Board members will have a budget workshop December 13 and possibly vote on the contract and pay raise the following Tuesday.

On another note, Hopson and seven district employees are leaving for China this week to help the PCSSD develop Chinese language programs.

I am excited to be able to report that yes, there is a trip to China planned for a PCSSD group. It is part of a partnership between the Confucius Institute headquarters in Beijing, (which is a program of the Hanban, the Office of Chinese Language Council International) working through the Confucius Institute at the University of Central Arkansas (UCACI) and in collaboration with the Arkansas department of Education. Our group is going as part of an American delegation of Arkansas educators from across the state. The program is called Teach Chinese in Arkansas, and the goal is to help schools in our state develop Chinese language programs as part of their curriculum.

The district is investing half of the price of the airline tickets for the seven members Superintendent Hopson selected for the trip. The board president at the time of the trip, Tim Clark, also has been invited, but has paid for his own airline ticket. Therefore, the District's investment is half of the $978 airline tickets, or $489 x 7, which is $3,423.00. The Hanban is paying for the remaining airline tickets, travel costs in China, lodging, group meals, tour guides, local and inter-city transportation costs, and any admission tickets.

At this time PCSSD is looking to incorporate Chinese at the Robinson feeder pattern schools and at the new Maumelle High School. We're also planning to expand the program currently in the College Station feeder pattern. That is why the principals who are attending the trip include Lisa Watson, principal at College Station, Joy Plants, who will be the principal at the Maumelle High School, Dr. Yoluandra Williams, principal at Robinson High School, Cherrie Walker, principal at Robinson Middle School and Dr. Bruce Bryant, who oversees curriculum decisions for the District. Also, much of the trip has been organized by an energetic teacher at Crystal Hill Elementary, Cindy Casto, who has a Chinese heritage and is volunteering her time to help develop Chinese programs in our schools. She will attend and be an asset to the team as they will have a private translator.

Why Chinese in PCSSD schools? Chinese is the most widely spoken first language - spoken by 1.3 billion people. More than 200 million Chinese school children are studying English, but only 50,000 students in the U.S. are studying Chinese. This will give PCSSD students the edge. And, China's economy is second only to the U.S. Right now, nine school districts in Arkansas have Chinese programs. We will be leaders in our state and nation!

Dr. Hopson participated in a similar trip as part of Portland Public Schools and had a positive experience that led to putting programs in place in Portland. His goal in building partnerships with the groups involved in the trip is to help us incorporate Chinese into our curriculum and is part of his plan to help PCSSD become a world-class district offering a global standard of excellence. I have attached the itinerary and other documentation about the program.

If you have any questions, however, please feel free to call me. You may also call Jingjing Li, deputy director of UCACI, at 501-852-5219, who is working with all of the districts throughout the state sending representatives as part of the delegation.