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WCS Board to discuss state legal action, textbook controversy, and capital outlay funds

The Williamson County Board of Education will meet for their first board meeting for the 2013-14 school year Monday night at 6:30 p.m. Top items on the agenda include discussion of legal action against state for not allowing EOC data corrections; decisions on a controversial Advanced Placement social studies textbook; and a resolution to request $15.4 million in 5-Year Capital Outlay funds from the county commission.

Textbook battle continues
An atypical item on the agenda could include an impromptu hearing of Laurie Cardoza Moore’s appeal of the WCS textbook committee’s decision to keep the controversial textbook – The Cultural Landscape: An Introduction to Human Geography 10th Edition by Dr. James Rubenstein published by Pearson –in classrooms this school year.  
However Cardoza-Moore argues in her appeal that the textbook, which she deems anti-Semitic, should be immediately removed from classrooms, contrary to the committee’s decision this summer. 
“We need to know where [the school board] stand(s) on this issue,” Cardoza Moore said previously to the Herald. 
According to a memorandum distributed at a work session Aug. 15 devised by WCS Attorney Bill Squires, the board has the choice to (1) hold a hearing to consider the appeal by Cardoza-Moore (which might be conducted at the board meeting’s conclusion) (2) overturn the decision of the textbook committee (3) uphold the decision of the textbook committee based upon record.
Textbook committee members, whose names had been previously withheld from the public until the meeting with the complainant in June, include Chairman Jason Golden, deputy superintendent and general counsel (appointed by Superintendent Dr. Mike Looney); Gini Langham, PTO president of Franklin High School (appointed by operation of policy); Dr. Juli Oyer principal of Fairview High School (appointed by Looney); Vicki Vogt, WCS board member (appointed by Pat Anderson, chairman of the WCS Board); and Williamson County Education Association appointed Joe Marley, a teacher at Grassland Middle School.
Almost 1,000 students have enrolled in the AP Human Geography class for the fall – a record number according to Superintendent Dr. Mike Looney. 
According to Jason Golden, WCS deputy superintendent and general counsel, the coming year is the last year of the current social studies book’s six-year cycle. Following, the state will create a new approved textbook list from which districts can choose. 
       In her written appeal Cardoza-Moore writes, “Given that Pearson has already conceded replacing that offensive passage in the human geography textbook, we  are at  a loss to understand why Williamson County schools would continue using the textbook with that and other unacceptable passages in it.”
 “The fact that the textbook might be used again is disturbing because the misinformation will mislead another group of kids,” Cardoza-Moore previously reported to the Herald.
“I have studied this for 10 years. The anti-Semitic language permeating through textbooks around the nation is subtle.” 
WCS to request capital outlay funding and allot monies in revenue. 
WCS plans to request $15.4 million in Five Year Capital Outlay Plan funding from the county commission. The funding would include design plans for the new high school in Nolensville, school additions and renovations as well as left over projects from last year. 
According to district reports at the board work session, the county could pursue a bond issue in November. 
“It is necessary for us to move forward on some projects that need to be started and funded through issue,” Kevin Fortney, Director of facilities and Construction wrote in a report. 
Also, Chief Financial Officer Leslie Holman announced that end of year revenues equaled $700,000 – more than projected for the end of the 2012-13 fiscal year.“This is good news,” Looney said. “It could go toward maintenance needs that were cut during budget rounds this spring.
During the spring, the county commission sliced WCS maintenance and technology capital needs from $7 million to $4 million. ”We want to collaborate with the commission and be good stewards of the money to the county commission and taxpayers.”

Posted on: 8/18/2013


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