DCS BOE approves big changes in personnel, tech

The Demopolis Board of Education approved a series of items that will bring big changes to each of the system’s schools, specifically in personnel and technology.
Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff said the actions taken at last night’s meeting “will guide the trajectory of our school system into the future.”
The personnel changes approved will lead to Westside Elementary School Principal Tony Pittman moving to Demopolis High School where he will serve as an assistant principal and athletic director. The athletic director role opened when the board approved a change in DHS Head Football Coach Stacy Luker’s contract with the school. Luker will become a part-time employee, maintaining his role as head football coach.
Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff said maintaining Luker fits the needs of both Luker and the school system. His new contract calls for 25 hours per week at $30,000 annually.
“(The change) is a little outside of the box. This is an opportunity for him to extend his coaching career and his time with us. It’s a win-win for both of us … he gets to do what he loves to do and we get a great coach and role model for our kids,” Kallhoff said.
Pittman, in addition to being principal at WES, has served as the DHS girls’ basketball coach.
“(Pittman) does a great job at WES, but he also has a knack with adolescents. He’s worked at every school and knows our students and is a great mentor,” Kallhoff said.
The move of Pittman means there is an opening for a principal at Westside Elementary. Kallhoff said that position is being posted and will close on May 6 with the goal of having a candidate to recommend at the May school board meeting.
“Filling that position quickly is only fair to our students, parents and teachers,” Kallhoff said. “Summer is a very important time for our principals in terms of planning and preparing for the upcoming school year.”
Other changes involve counselors at each of the system’s four schools. The changes there began at a previous BOE meeting when it was decided to add a 12-month counselor position whereas previously all contracts were 10-month. Kallhoff added that the changes would allow all counselors to gain experience in state testing.
Filling the 12-month position will be Tracy Pearson who is moving from Demopolis Middle School to the high school. William Barley, currently at DHS, will split his time between the high school and middle school. Laura Holley is moving from U.S. Jones to DMS, Leslie May will move from DHS to WES, and Altima Bowden will move from WES to U.S. Jones.
Other personnel moves included transferring technology teacher Penny Stanford from U.S. Jones to WES and tech aid Christine Anderson from WES to U.S. Jones. This change will allow both schools to have a certified tech teacher and a tech aid.
Lead nurse Brady Daniels was hired to replace retiring Geraldine Walker and Dana Freeman was hired into the new position of instructional specialist.
Resignations approved at the meeting included: U.S. Jones teachers Jeanette Rainey and Vicky Thorne; Tony Speegle at DHS; and Martell Jones, a paraprofessional for special education at the high school.
The board also approved several items related to technology within the school system, including a Virtual School Policy and a process for replacing classroom smartboards with interactive television panels.
After a public hearing last week, the board approved the Demopolis City School System Virtual School Plan, which was mandated by the state. The policy states the system will provide a “virtual pathway or virtual education option for students in grades 6-12.” The procedures in implementing the policy will come at a later date.
The policy will allow students to complete coursework virtually from computers, allowing more flexibility for students to complete course requirements. The virtual school option will be available to students of the system as well as others, such as homeschool students. Those students enrolled full-time through the virtual school and who live within the school district will be eligible to participate in extracurricular activities.
The board also approved a measure that will begin a five-year process of replacing current smartboards with 70-inch interactive television panels. That process will begin this summer when the panels will be installed at U.S. Jones.
“The smartboards are great tools, but we are coming to the end of the warranties on those at U.S. Jones and Westside Elementary. As those warranties expire at each school we will replace with the active panel televisions,” Kallhoff said. ‘By the time we get to the high school, we will be in a cycle of updating our technology.”
The strategy also allows the system to spread the costs for the televisions over the course of five years. The cost to place the televisions at U.S. Jones this summer will be $207,000 and will be paid for over the course of five years.
“I’m very excited to get this done and our teachers have seen the panel televisions and had the opportunity to try them and they are excited as well,” Kallhoff said.
Replacing the smartboards will have the added benefit of doing away with some expensive maintenance, according to the superintendent.
“This year alone, we filled 85 work orders for bulbs, projectors and boards totaling $40,000,” he said.