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Administration contracts approved following debate

By Rebecca Burk / L’Observateur / February 16, 1998

LUTCHER – With the possibility of a new superintendent of schools in St. James Parish, some school board members were wary of renewing the contracts of three of the service office’s employees.

Superintendent John Boughton’s contract expires June 30, but he hasn’t decided if he will stay or leave.

“I think in the next couple of weeks he’ll make a decision,” Kenneth Foret, board member, said.

Millie Matherne, area supervisor, brought the updated personnel list before the board Tuesday night for approval, which is no kink in the routine of the bi-weekly school board meetings.

But Tuesday night a kink was found by board members. After a motion wasmade by Lloyd LeBlanc to accept the changes in personnel and seconded by George Nassar, Foret brought up a few questions.

His concern was that if Boughton decides not to return, giving the board no other alternative but to hire a new superintendent, the school board would be bound by three two-year contracts for assistant superintendent, instructional supervisor and area supervisor.

Foret said that would be a problem because naturally, the superintendent wants the office set up to his liking and may want to reorganize or hire different employees for some of the staff positions.

Richard Reulet, board member, suggested that the item be postponed until more research is done.

Thomas Kliebert, the board’s legal advisor, said he had done research earlier in the day and found that by state law employees couldn’t work unless they were on a contract of a minimum of two years and a maximum of four years.

So basically the board members’ hands were tied. They had to either renewthe contracts or hire new people.

So Reulet again suggested another postponement for more research.

Kliebert replied saying that he “just researched it today (Tuesday).”LeBlanc, who was slightly dismayed that board members were ignoring parliamentary procedure, insisted they vote on the motion that was on the table, which was to accept the updated personnel list including the three two-year contract renewals.

So the board voted 7-0 to accept the updated list.

The main concern of the board members was the fact that if a new superintendent does come in and wants to juggle the employees around, by contract they would have to continue to receive their current salary.

“He could reorganize, but you still have to pay them the salary that is locked in on that contract,” Foret said.

But LeBlanc has faith in the three employees whose contracts were renewed. “These people have been here and they are in good standing,” hesaid. “They have done a good job.”Nonetheless, other board members are still concerned about the contract renewals and the controversy it may bring to the board room if a new superintendent is hired who decides to shift the service office’s personnel around.

“It’s going to be a hot issue,” Nassar said.

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