Across the Board August 2022: Key Takeaways from the ALBOE Meeting

Recapping important education policy decisions for you

We’re continuing our monthly series dedicated to keeping you informed about key policy discussions and decisions made by the Alabama State Board of Education and the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE). The Alabama State Board of Education usually meets on the second Thursday of each month to discuss important policies, procedures, and changes for Alabama’s K-12 public schools. The Board takes official action during their monthly meeting and then follows up with a Work Session to get updates and discuss future action that will be voted on at the next board meeting. You can watch them live and see old meetings here

Here are our key takeaways from the August 11th State Board of Education meeting and work session – and what they mean for Alabama’s students.

August 2022 Board Meeting

All members were present, except Dr. Tonya Chestnut, who was with her daughter who delivered her newest granddaughter yesterday. Congrats to Dr. Chestnut!

On today’s agenda:

Board Recognition: Congratulations to Christy Mead of the Albertville City School System for receiving the 2022 Robert L. Morton Award!

Administrative Code Changes: The Board unanimously adopted a change to the administrative code regarding Rule 290-2-2-.01, Pertaining to School Facilities: Approval of Construction. This change will align the administrative code with the legislation passed earlier this year, which increased the cutoff for construction projects that will need to go through a review of the Building Commission from $500,000 to $750,000.  With this update, construction projects under $750,000 will now go through a shorter review process.

Public Charter School Commission: The Board voted to approve Alabama Public Charter School Commission Nominees. President Pro-Tem Greg Reed nominated two individuals: Ryan Kendall and Cantrell.  All Board Members except Stephanie Bell voted to approve Ryan Kendall. Mrs. Bell abstained.

Superintendent’s Report:

  • Dr. Ginda Grissette of the Military Child Education Coalition presented the Maxwell River Region Partnership for Educational Excellence with the Pete Taylor of Excellence Award.  There are 8 local schools that were recognized as Purple Star Schools and honored with the Pete Taylor Award.
  • Mrs. Amy Childress, Superintendent of Scottsboro City Schools, presented the Senior Beta Club of Scottsboro High School. Their club received the “Club to Watch” award at the National Beta Club convention this summer. Three students from the club played several songs that earned top honors at the state convention.
  • Dr. Mackey announced that Dr. Sandy Ledwell will be leaving AMSTI to become the Dean of Education at Faulkner University. Congrats!

August Work Session

Here is the agenda for the work session.

FY 2024 Foundation Program Appropriation Request Updates: Dr. Brandon Payne presented the FY24 budget requests, which come to a grand total of $6,068,241,762 with an increase of $799,415,298. To see the full FY24 Budget Request Worksheet, click here. Below is a description of the line item increases:

    • SDE Operations Maintenance: Increase of $3,000,000 
    • Advanced Placement: Increase of $2,000,000 to expand the work of A+ College Ready
    • Principal Development: This is broken down into two new initiatives: (1) Alabama Teacher Growth Program – A new request of $5 million to develop online modules for training principals and assistant principals in the new teacher observation program, the Alabama Teacher Growth Program (ATGP) and (2) Leadership Academy Expansion – A new request of $2 million to develop a statewide leadership academy for principals and assistant principals.
    • Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative: +$3 million 
    • Alabama Numeracy Act: Increase of $5 million to hire 17-18 new Office of Math Improvement Regional Support Specialists and initial Math Coaches. 
    • Alabama Reading Initiative: Increase of $8 million to cover the local and regional reading specialists, incentives for proficiency growth, additional LETRs training
    • Struggling Readers Beyond Grade 3: Increase of $3 million for support, professional development, resources, and on-site modeling and coaching for middle and high school reading intervention teachers and programs.
    • Office of School Improvement: Increase of $950,000 to hire secondary literacy coaches, 3 elementary math specialists, and 2 elementary school turnaround specialists.
    • Arts Education: Increase of $1.5 million to launch a competitive grant program for districts that don’t currently have an arts program to partner with existing art programs to provide arts programming.
    • Computer Science for Alabama (CS4A) Program: Increase of $500,000 to expand training for CS teachers
    • English Language Learners: Increase of $1 million to increase funding for pay matrix and raises for 11 regional specialists
    • Mental Health Service Coordinator Program: Increase of $1.32 million to increase the number of coordinators from 113 to 146 to cover all districts. Dr. McCarty raised the concern that some districts are much larger than others and it’s hard for one coordinator to serve an entire district. Dr. Payne suggested that we could expand this request and it could be per-pupil.
    • Student Assessment: Increase of $5.7 million to cover the ACAP & ELA Course of Study alignment, as well as the creation of score resorts in multiple languages, professional development at 11 sites, and validation studies for Reading subtest and supplemental assessments. Dr. Payne explained that if College & Career Readiness is required for graduation, then the state will need to provide a WorkKeys administration to students in 9th grade, which is covered in this budget request.
    • Office of Specialized Treatment Centers: A new request for $800,000 to establish a new Office of Specialized Treatment Centers, which would oversee the STCs across the state. This team would include a director, coordinator, administrator, attorney, and administrative assistant. Mrs. West requested Dr. Payne to add a breakdown of these costs and a more detailed narrative about the importance of STCs for serving students with significant needs.
    • Alabama Teacher Mentor Program: Increase of $1.5 million to provide high-quality mentors to new teachers. This work is being revamped to raise the rigor of this program to ensure teachers get the support they need. Mentor teachers will get a $1000 stipend.
    • Career Tech Initiative: Increase of $4.8 million to continue to grow CTE programming, including middle grades programs, EPIC program support (which are the most successful CTE programs in the state that will help promote best practices & offer PD for other CTE programs), CTE equipment upgrades, and work-based learning experiences. 
    • Jobs for Alabama’s Graduates: Increase of $3 million to fund 60 programs at $75,000 each.
    • Marketing Campaign for Teachers: Increase of $200,000
    • Technology in Motion Program: Increase of $1.25 million to ensure that there is a TIM Specialist in every regional in-service center
    • Special Education Teacher Incentive Stipend: The line was blank, but Dr. Mackey asked board members if they wanted to request $68 million again. Last year, the ALSDE received this request, which would have provided a $5k stipend per special education teacher.
    • Future Teachers of Alabama: Increase of $2 million to increase the number of schools that are participating in the “Grow Your Own” programs. Dr. Mackey also wanted board members to consider paying student teachers (or interns) at the substitute rate during their internships, but this would require increasing the request. 
    • Foundation Program: Increase of $586 million, which will allow for the following actions:
      • Adjust the K-6 teacher divisors are all adjusted to the kindergarten level divisors (14.25) and all of 7-12 divisors are adjusted to the 12th-grade divisor (17.95), which would add 4,063 teacher units across the state. 
      • Adjust ADM (average daily membership or student attendance) factor for earned school counselor units, which would add 1,444 counselors to schools across the state.
      • Increase the extension multiple of school-based administration and counseling. 
      • Increase OCE (Other Current Expenses) to $100 million, which can be spent on a variety of expenses. This gives superintendents and local school boards the flexibility to address school safety in their schools, instead of having a line item that would be more prescriptive.

Elementary Math Task Force & Alabama Numeracy Act: Dr. Mackey gave an update on the progress with the Alabama Numeracy Act. The ALSDE has hired the new Director of the Office of Mathematics Improvement, which will be officially announced tomorrow. Dr. Mackey reviewed the list of the members of the Elementary Math Task Force with board members, which has held one virtual meeting so far. Corinn O’Brien, A+ Education Partnership’s VP of Policy, was appointed by Governor Kay Ivey to serve on this task force. The next meeting will likely be on Zoom in October. 

The tasks of the EMTF are laid out in the law, which are 1) make recommendations to the board for high-quality instructional materials for core instruction and intervention programs, 2) make recommendations to the board for high-quality assessment systems, and 3) develop a continuum of high-quality professional development for teachers of early mathematics teachers. 

Board members asked about when districts would be able to begin hiring math coaches. Dr Mackey shared that elementary schools with the lowest math scores will receive the priority to hire math coaches first. Principals in these schools will have an opportunity to name math coaches next Spring, who then remain in the classroom and then receive training next summer. Higher performing districts will receive funding for math coaches over the next 6 years. However, they can go ahead and hire them now with local funding.

Alabama Multi-Tier System of Supports: ALSDE began to develop the Alabama Multi-Tier System of Supports in November 2019. There is now one full-time MTSS staff member, Kristie Shankles, and 12 Regional MTSS Specialists. ALSDE staff shared why it has been critical to develop an Alabama MTSS, citing increased challenges with student behavior after COVID school closures and loss of instructional time due to exclusionary discipline. According to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), MTSS is a “comprehensive continuum of evidence-based, systemic practices to support all students’ strengths and needs, with regular observation to facilitate data-based decision-making.” The Alabama Multi-Tier System of Supports has three foundational elements, Academic Supports, Behavioral Support, and Foundational Wellness, as well as five pillars: Data-based Decision Making, Team-Driven Leadership, PK-12 Evidence-Based Instructional Strategies, Safe and Supportive Learning Environment, and Engaged Stakeholders. The first cohort of schools to pilot this included Calhoun County, Crenshaw County, Pike County, and Scottsboro City. Over 45 districts applied and 33 districts were accepted to be a part of the second cohort of schools that will be trained in the AL MTSS. Cohort two will be announced tomorrow. 

Alabama Career Development Model: Laura Bailey and Cathy Lankford presented an overview of the Alabama Career Development Model, which is a plan codifying how Alabama K-12 schools will explore and prepare students for careers throughout their school experience. It established targets for elementary, middle, and high schools and suggested strategies that schools can use to implement the model.

PowerSchool Updates: Stacy Royster gave an update on the first year of PowerSchool implementation and previewed what to expect in year two. She shared that there has been a lot of turnover in central office positions, so her team has had to engage in more training to make sure that everyone is up to speed.

Board Discussion:

  • Dr. Cynthia McCarty requested time to discuss all of the terminology associated with ACAP proficiency levels and scores. She shared that terms like “grade level” and “proficient” are used interchangeably and it’s sometimes confusing to be able to explain what qualifies for grade level to parents and families. 
  • Dr. McCarty requested for the department to survey ALSDE staff with a net promoter survey as soon as feasible, so that internal issues can be surfaced and addressed so that staff feel valued and appreciated.
  • Dr. Wayne Reynolds requested a report on the Alabama Literacy Act at the board’s retreat. He also requested that the board have time to discuss what topics they would like to work on with the legislature.

Resolutions to be Voted on at the September Meeting: 

Making College and Career Readiness a Graduation Requirement – The Board discussed a resolution to announce intent to Adopt Amended Alabama Administrative Code Rule 290-3-1-.02, Pertaining to Regulations Governing Public Schools, which would require students to earn a College and Career Readiness indicator in order to graduate high school. This was fully discussed by the board at last month’s work session, and they will vote on whether to begin this change at the September Board Meeting. Read more from last month’s Across the Board here

Other possible changes to be discussed by the Board. In addition to making achieving a College and Career Readiness indicator a graduation requirement, Dr. Mackey raised the possibility of making other changes to the graduation requirements, such as adjusting the 4 by 4 requirement (4 math, 4 English, 4 social studies, 4 science). There is concern that the 4 by 4 requirement hurts local school districts’ ability to offer more career tech options. This was not a concrete proposal, but you can expect to see more discussion at future meetings.

Alabama Public Charter School Nominees – Speaker Mac McCutcheons withdrew his two nominations, which includes the current Public Charter School chair and submitted two new nominations, Luis Ferrer and Debbie Alvis.

Educator Prep Program Approval – The Board discussed a resolution to approve an early childhood education class B program at the University of Montevallo.

2021 Alabama School Counseling Program of Distinction – The Board discussed a resolution commending the 2021 Alabama School Counseling Program of Distinction across the state:

  • Amanda Blake and Sheniqua Roberson, School Counselors at Daphne Middle School in Baldwin County School System
  • Summer Davis, Kristy Elderkin, and Katryna Kinn, School Counselors, E. R. Dickson Elementary School, Mobile County School System
  • Carissa Davis and Janie Evans, School Counselors, J. Larry Newton Elementary School, Baldwin County School System
  • Shannon Parker, School Counselor, Malachi Wilkerson Middle School, Birmingham City School System
  • Brandi Shanklin, Latonya Jemison, And Emily Woodroof, School Counselors, Hillcrest High School, Tuscaloosa County School System

October is Parent Engagement Month – The Board discussed a resolution to proclaim October 2022 as Statewide Parent Engagement Month in Alabama.

Contact Your Board Member:

Have feedback on any of the above items – or anything else? Contact your state school board member using the resources below:

-To contact your State Board of Education Member, click here.

-To find out which district you live and/or teach in, click here. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and enter your address in the “Polling Place Search” box. Once entered, it will take you to a page that shows your polling place and the districts you live in.

-To view a map of the state school board districts, click here.