Update: Questions & Answers from the Annual Report to the Public 2022 Meeting
November 16, 2022
As a follow-up to our Annual Report to the Public meeting which was held Monday, November 14th, patrons were provided the opportunity to make comments and ask questions.
Question 1: When will the Cabot School District be out of debt?
- Answer: Currently, we have the least amount of debt among comparably-sized districts in Arkansas as referenced here. Bonds currently being paid by the district are scheduled to be paid in full by 2038.
Question 2: Last year at the report to the public, why was there no public comment? Because (and please correct me if I’m wrong) legally there is supposed to be public comment and questions allowed during the Report to the Public. And then I stated the fact that I raised my hand last year during the Report to the public “questions” section (it even said “questions” on the screen) and was ignored and felt very disrespected.
- Answer: We did ask if there were any questions last year. You have stated that you raised your hand. We apologize if you were not recognized. The fact is that all patrons, including yourself, are welcome to ask questions anytime by contacting district administrators or board members. You don't have to wait until the Annual Report to the Public. Contact information for all district administrators and board members is readily available on our website.
It was stated that "legally there is supposed to be public comment and questions allowed during the Report to the Public."
There is not a legal statute regarding questions at the Annual Report to the Public. Guidelines for the Annual Report to the Public are in the Standards for Accreditation of Public Schools and School Districts and are not specifically written into any legal statute or annotated code.
Question 3: What makes it okay for our schools to be in debt?
- Answer: We have debt because we want to have quality facilities for teaching and learning. Unfortunately, we do not generate the amount of funds each year to pay cash for every facility such as our $17 million Cabot Freshman Academy or the $5 million Cabot Learning Academy currently under construction. It's the same scenario with building or purchasing a home and a mortgage payment.
Question 4: Isn't it the goal to not to be in debt?
- Answer: Yes.
Question 5: If we hadn’t refinanced that bond earlier this year, when would we have been debt free as a district?
- Answer: As stated, we are on schedule for all current bonds to be paid in 2038.
Question 6: The Board just had a special session on curriculum – no minutes – what curriculum was looked at during this session?
- Answer: During this special session, 2022 test data was discussed. Our principals shared their school’s data along with anecdotal stories that focused on student success. They discussed areas of strength and growth from the previous year as well as areas they are focusing on improving for this year and how they are planning to implement these improvements. The Board was given a binder of scores that can be located here. No specific curriculum was “looked at” during this session.
Question 7: Why are 5th grade students reading The Boys’ War?
- Answer: The Boys’ War: Confederate and Union Soldiers Talk About the Civil War by Jim Murphy is a non-fiction text that is featured in lessons 1-15 in module 3: “A War Between Us.” The book contains rich primary sources including diary entries, letters, and archival photographs from the Civil War. The book provides a unique perspective on the impact of the war told through the eyes of soldiers that were all sixteen years old or younger. Perspectives from both Northern and Southern boys are used to communicate a comprehensive account of the challenges that these boys faced. This text builds student background knowledge of the reality of the Civil War. Lessons that feature this text focus on academic vocabulary, features of non-fiction text, and primary and secondary sources as well as Arkansas state standards for reading informational text, speaking and listening, writing, and language.
Question 8: In 2nd grade why are students reading a book about Ruby Bridges in which the “N” word is used?
- Answer: The book Ruby Bridges Goes to School: My True Story by Ruby Bridges is an autobiography that documents Ruby’s experience starting elementary school in New Orleans in the 1960s. This book is utilized to build knowledge of the Civil Rights movement as well as teach Arkansas standards that focus on reading informational text, language, vocabulary, and speaking and listening. On pages 24-25, the book features Norman Rockwell’s painting The Problem We All Live With. In this painting, Ruby Bridges is surrounded by US Marshals, and there is a racial slur on the wall behind her. There is not a racial slur that is read aloud to students as part of the text. Additionally, the curriculum provides a teacher note that gives guidance for discussing this topic if it is brought up by students. The teacher is never directed to teach this slur or initiate this discussion with students. This book has been used in classrooms for several years and has a suggested reading age of 5-8 years old.
Question 9: Why was a stakeholder referred to someone other than a school board member, when they asked questions about Wit and Wisdom?
- Answer: The stakeholder was referred to our curriculum department since they can answer specific questions regarding Wit & Wisdom. The contact information for board members is readily available on our website and all parents/patrons are welcome to contact them at any time.
Question 10: When looking at district staff: Dr. Thurman is paid the most, but teachers are paid last looking at the 7 largest districts in the state. Why is teacher entrance pay not correlated with the pay of the superintendent? (i.e. starting teacher pay ranking versus supt. ranking)?
- Answer: To be fair, Dr. Thurman is not paid “the most” nor do Cabot teachers have the lowest starting pay among the 7 largest districts. We will use final financial statements from 2021-2022 to provide an accurate snapshot of the true data:
- Cabot’s superintendent salary was $244,007.
- The top superintendent salaries were actually Rogers ($272,507) and Little Rock ($270,000).
- Cabot’s entry pay for teachers is 5th behind Springdale, Bentonville, Fayetteville, and Rogers. We are above Fort Smith and Little Rock.
Question 11: Why aren’t principals and assistant principals of A, B, and C schools being compensated for the level of achievement of their schools?
- Answer: Merit pay for administrators and teachers is something that is discussed periodically in schools and could be considered in the future.
Question 12: Why are the classified and personnel policy committees not allowed to bring their policy edits to the School Board?
- Answer: Policy considerations from PPC and CPPT are brought to the Board each spring. In addition, PPC and CPPT may request to address the Board at any time. Neither PPC or CPPT have ever been denied the opportunity to address the Board.
Question 13: Why did the board request a waiver of the maximum student load for teachers at Cabot Panther Academy (the charter school)?
- Answer: The approved student load for CPA teachers is 200 instead of the usual 150. We do not have any teachers at CPA that are serving in excess of 200 students.
Since students receive custom-built, aligned instruction through Edmentum, the amount of lesson planning for teachers is greatly reduced compared to those in a regular education setting. In addition, students either are part of a hybrid setting or a fully digital setting. We requested a teacher load waiver when we added a completely digital learning option for our students. Students at CPA are either hybrid, in which they attend a minimum of 12 hours per week on-site, or are completely digital. Utilizing Edmentum as our curriculum, allows students to receive quality instruction and teachers to meet the needs of all students within a comfortable level.
The Board supported the request in order to maximize the number of students who could take advantage of this educational opportunity.
Question 14: What was the day and time the board members drew straws and the means in which you drew them to determine who were the “at large” board members?
- Answer: Zoning information can be found here. As stated, the Board drew terms over the course of several days in March and were never in violation of state meeting laws.
Question 15: Will the Cabot School Board adopt language in their library media policy similar to Bentonville and Siloam Springs to “limit pervasively vulgar content?”
- Answer: This will be considered, along with other policy additions and revisions, in the spring.
Question 16: How much money and time has been used to address frivolous lawsuits and FOIA requests?
- Answer: In the two cases the district has pending, Cavin v. CSD and Bosch v. CSD, litigation totals are expected to cost roughly $125,000.
- Answer: To date, we estimate that more than $25,000 has been spent this year on FOIA requests. As an example, we have completed a FOIA request that has taken multiple full-time employees over two days to complete. This request consisted of 4,970 documents.
Previous Story Posted: October 31, 2022
It’s about KIDS! The Cabot School District is pleased to share its Annual Report to the Public.
The district is presenting the report in a new video format that is easily accessible to all our stakeholders. The video can be viewed below.
The Annual Report to the Public includes detailed information highlighting student and staff achievements, board members, finances, district and school projects, academic progress, accreditation standards, and communication.
A public meeting regarding our Annual Report to the Public will be held on Monday, November 14, 2022 at 5:15 p.m. in the Cabot High School Auditorium. Doors open at 4:45 p.m. Parents of students that are currently enrolled in our district or patrons that reside within the district boundary may comment or ask questions at the conclusion of the video presentation.
The Annual Report to the Public video is also posted on the district’s website, cabotschools.org, under announcements, as well as the State Required Information section