Wednesday, June 12, 2024

GISD enters MOU with Forward Training Center to provide job training

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Granbury Independent School District officially entered into a memorandum of understanding agreement with Forward Training Center May 20, to provide the Powered for Life program for Granbury High School SOAR students on campus during the day.

According to Assistant Superintendent Tammy Clark, SOAR is an accelerated learning environment for GHS students who need to obtain a few additional credits to graduate.

Powered for Life is a program provided by Forward Training Center to help individuals gain tools and skills necessary to gain future employment.

The agenda item was first brought up during the April 22 school board meeting to allow students to attend the Powered for Life program and for interested parents or guardians to attend the Jobs for Life voluntary adult program — both taking place at GHS. However, Place 7 Trustee Karen Lowery had a few concerns regarding the adult program taking place at the high school.

Since the program would take place after hours, the district’s Raptor security system would not be operating and there would not be any security at GHS during that time.

Lowery said her main concern was that Forward Training Center’s background checks aligned with GISD’s because under the Background Screenings section of the MOU, it states that “Parent participants with criminal histories are not prohibited from the Jobs for Life course which is held after school hours on site.”

"I understand this is a great program, and it's going to offer much-needed educational opportunities for our parents," Lowery said, during the April board meeting. “However, we need to be cognizant of our safety and security of our students and our property. We're going to have extra students there afterwards, we're going to have no security there, we're not going to have any escorts — people just kind of come and go as they want.”

“I know some parents that have actually done the programs simultaneously with their children,” Vice President Courtney Gore said, during the April board meeting. “If I understand correctly, they are wanting to make it accessible to parents who might not otherwise have resources like this that may have a criminal history. I think the concern is that some of those parents might be with some of our kids.”

“That's a fair concern,” Clark responded. “They would not be alone with our kids. But if that's something that you want us to strike from this MOU, we can.”

The agenda item was then tabled until the next school board meeting May 20. During that meeting, Clark explained that in light of Lowery’s concerns, the district had shifted the MOU with Forward Training Center to only include the Powered for Life voluntary program for GHS SOAR students. The program would also take place on the GHS campus during the day.

With parent permission, students can engage in two sessions of the Powered for Life program per week over the course of eight weeks in curriculum that focuses on the following: overcoming roadblocks, conflict resolution skills, resumes/interviewing skills, customer service satisfaction, higher educational opportunities, locating summer/part time entry jobs, their God-given gifts and purpose, building healthy relationships, strengthening communication skills, managing conflict, business and community resources, and earning money for a secure future.

According to the memo regarding the Forward Training Center MOU, volunteers and instructors from the center already undergo advanced criminal background checks through publicdata.com and those volunteering/instructing at the GHS site will also go through GHS’ volunteer background check process, App-Garden, to ensure the safety of the students.

The opportunity will also include parent permission before participation and will not take away from students’ coursework or studies.

Clark said she had been working closely with Forward Training Center Executive Director Monica Hays to draft another application for GHS students who might be interested in the Powered for Life program but are not in SOAR.

"Students at GHS who indicate that's something that they're interested in, and they get their parents' permission — just like the students in SOAR — they can go after school hours, and participate that way,” she said.

The volunteers, Clark said, will also undergo Forward Training Center’s background check as well as the district’s appgarden check.

"(Forward Training Center) has made a different change so that they are going to do background checks yearly on all of their people," she said. “I think that addresses all the concerns that were raised last time, so it is recommended that the board approve the MOU with Forward Training Center for the provision of voluntary Powered for Life programming for our SOAR high school students at GHS, and all of our other students at Forward Training Center.”

Following Clark’s introduction, Gore then made a motion to approve the updated MOU with Forward Training Center. Secretary Billy Wimberly seconded the motion.

Once discussion began, Lowery explained that she wanted to make it clear that she is in “total agreement” for providing this educational opportunity for all children. She also thanked Clark for working with her in changing the MOU.

Lowery then asked if there were any plans to expand the MOU and Clark said there were not any plans currently.

“If we expand the MOU, we'll come back to the board,” Clark said. “At this time, we're going to start small and have it just during the school day at GHS because the students can participate at Forward Training Center after school.”

Lowery reiterated that she is in total agreement with the program but suggested the board take a moment and examine the relationship with the center in lieu of a recent incident that allegedly took place.

"A records check shows there's been some issues at the training, and we were not made aware of that at the last board meeting,” she said. “They had an employee arrested for an active warrant, and there was a call for a wellness check with a man with a machete and calls of a suspicious vehicle, as well as it was mentioned earlier, an arrest for someone in their company stealing political signs. I just think there needs to be a little bit of thinking about how much we want to be associated with them.”

Gore then asked what the offense was regarding the employee who was arrested. Lowery said she would show Gore in the back room, but she wasn’t going to talk about it in public.

“It's kind of hard to make a decision without all the information,” Gore said.

“I've got it all right here,” Lowery said. “The police reports that says that there was an employee that was arrested when they were called to the building.”

With a motion on the table, President Barbara Townsend then called for a vote to approve the updated MOU, which passed with Place 3 Trustee Melanie Graft and Lowery voting against the motion.