Student Praises Teacher, Minority Supplier Program Questioned at May 17 HSD Board of Education Meeting
Tuesday's meeting awards the recipients of the First Teacher of the Year.
Najam Khan is a pretty typical elementary school student. Tall for his age, with quite a vocabulary, it could be assumed this fourth-grade Russell Elementary student is a techie and active reader. That being said, one wouldn’t assume his favorite teacher is physical education teacher Marvin Williams.
“He’s a great teacher sent from God,” Kahn said at Tuesday’s Hazelwood School District Board of Education meeting. “He changed my whole life ever since he came to Russell Elementary. I love him so much, and I wish every teacher at Russell Elementary was like Mr. Williams.”
Both Williams and Hazelwood East Middle School communications skills teacher, Sean Manion, were recognized at the meeting as a district Outstanding First Teacher of the Year, something Kahn said Williams deserves because of his positive spirit.
“Mr. Williams deserves this award because he helps encourage me,” he said. “He roots for me to do it. He tells me when I do good, even when other kids put me down. “
Manion said his success was due to having a successful support staff at school.
“Thank you for the recognition. This is a big honor,” he said. “This is an individual award, but I think it’s highly indicative of all the good things we have going on at East Middle.”
The Outstanding First Teacher of the Year award is a district-wide award that recognizes first-year teachers who excel in the classroom.
Following the award recognition, the meeting went into patron participation, the section of the meeting in which the public is allowed to address the board. At that time, a few members of the public asked about the district’s supplier diversity program.
Terry Weaver, a district resident and community advocate, expressed his concern regarding complaints he’s received from the community about the district’s involvement with minority-owned businesses (MBEs) and women-owned businesses (WBEs). Weaver questioned the ratio of business the district does with minorities against its budget.
“Hazelwood has over $180 millions dollars in the budget, and I think in the report (Dwight Lindhorst, assistant superintendant of finance and facility services) said only $4.5 million was utilized for MBEs and WBEs, and I think that is unacceptable, and I think it is embarrassing,” he said. “We have a student body over 60 percent African-American, and I think the board needs to look seriously at making some positive changes from this day forward.
“We’re asking the district to utilize the expertise we have in the community. The district continually asks us to support bond issues, and we do that. The district asks us to abide by district policy and we do that," he said. "But when it comes down to asking for us to take part actively in the budget process in this district, that is not being done. So I’m asking you to please, for the students in the community, address the issue about minority hiring and participation in the school district."
Adolphus Pruitt also requested some district financial documents. Pruitt is the president of the St. Louis Branch of the NAACP.
"We’ve been getting a number of complaints about the disparities within spending in the school district, whether it be with supplies or construction,” he said. “We’ve been pulling some of the district records. While I’m not prepared at this time to state whether a disparity has occurred yet or not, what would be helpful is purchase reports."
Pruitt went into great detail about the public information he’s seeking, as it pertains to bid awards to companies. Based on district reports he’s acquired, the numbers aren’t matching up, Pruitt said.
“We spoke with a number of African-American vendors. We found a number of them saying they were awarded a certain dollar amount," he said. "But when we drilled down with the vendor, the vendor actually did not do that much business with the district. So we don’t know whether that was a discrepancy or whether the report was not set up right."
Pruitt also reiterated the requirements of the districts federal entitlement funds.
“We’ve been doing our reviews based on (federal entitlement programs) Title VI regulations and just for the record, Title VI provides that any entity that is receiving federal funds of any sort has a particular responsibility to try to spend those funds in a way that does not provide for any sort of disparity,” he said. “And if disparities are found, whether intentional or unintentional, Title VI requires that there be some remediation to remove of those disparities.”
Following the patron participation, the board continued with the agenda items that included approval of consent agenda items. Board member Mark Behlmann made a motion to remove approval of a bid contract to paint the gym Hazelwood East High School from the consent agenda.
“In regards to item 12, in light of the previous comments under patron participation, I was wondering if we could hold off on that particular item only for the simple fact of verification of the winning contractor who happened to be the lowest bid,” he said. “(The contractor) indicates that the percentage of MBE participation is 83.28 percent. I do not believe that is a correct and accurate number, and I would like to have that verified before we award that bid."
Delay of the bid award was voted on and the entire board approved holding off until MBE certification is confirmed.
In other news, the Hazelwood School District Board of Education:
has it’s next scheduled meeting June 14 at 6:30 p.m.
recognized a team of students that recently returned from the DECA competition in Florida
recognized those staff members who participated in the American Heart Association's "Fit Friendly" program