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Summer day care program approved

By Rebecca Burk / L’Observateur / April 20, 1998

RESERVE – St. John the Baptist Parish School Board members on Thursdayreversed a decision they made April 2 not to have a summer day care program at the Head Start Center.

At that time board members didn’t feel it was fair to pay Stephenie Watkins, Head Start coordinator, overtime pay for extra duties when other administrators weren’t paid overtime for their extra duties.

The coordinator would receive a $5,293 salary to operate the summer day care program.

But Superintendent Cleveland Farlough brought it up again at Thursday night’s meeting, saying that it was for the benefit of the children.

“I am asking that you approve it,” Farlough said. “I’ve had to look at thisfrom the benefit of the child. The child will benefit from this. If we don’thave this program the ones we are trying to help will have to do something else that may not be so wholesome.”A motion to accept the proposal was made by Leroy Mitchell and seconded by Felix “Pappy” LeBouef.

But before a vote could be taken on the matter board member Aleitha Bardell made a substitute motion to pay the union contract negotiating team members overtime for extra hours they spent negotiating the union contract, which passed several months ago.

Her motion was seconded by Gerald Keller.

“This doesn’t pertain to what we are talking about,” Richard DeLong, board chairman, said.

“If you’re going to let one do it you have to let us all do it,” Bardell said, referring to a motion Matthew Ory made a few meetings ago to cut board members’ salary 50 percent.

“There wasn’t even a second, and you let the board discuss it for two hours,” Bardell said.

“I can’t in good faith sit here and tie these two items together,” DeLong said, ruling the motion out of order.

Bardell challenged the chair, but her challenge failed 7-4, with Ory, Bardell, Keller and Clarence Triche agreeing with the challenge and Mitchell, LeBouef, DeLong, Dowie Gendron, C.J. Watkins, James Madere andRuss Wise disagreeing.

Bardell said she thought the negotiating team members deserved extra money for their long hours, some of which went into the early hours of the morning. “I asked this board in executive session to do something for theteam and Dr. Keller was the only one who spoke up,” she said.Ory got board members back on track by bringing up the real reason they were discussing the child care program again. “Mr. Farlough said thisprogram is very important to the children of the parish,” he said. “But Ihope that every program is very important to the parish. A lot of peoplework overtime and don’t get paid. And it’s not fair that someone’s going toget paid overtime for doing extra work, while others don’t.”Ory made a substitute motion to pass the proposal of the summer day care program, without paying any extra money to the coordinator who runs it.

Ory’s motion was seconded by Bardell.

“This is not overtime pay,” Stephenie Watkins said. “This is pay foradditional responsibilities that is not part of my job description. I’llrelinquish the job and allow someone else to do it.”Board member C.J. Watkins, Stephenie Watkins’ husband, reiterated whatshe said. “I can’t believe intelligent people keep saying it’s overtime,” hesaid. “It’s a contract with the school board and Social Services.”Social Services asked the school board to run the program, but it will reimburse the expenses.

“This has nothing at all to do with paying anyone overtime,” Wise said. “Itis a basic fairness that when someone takes an additional job they receive extra money. It has nothing to do with paying her extra money because itis not our money.”Mitchell was disgusted with the discussion, saying the budget was there and it didn’t cost much extra anyway.

“We spend the entire night talking of paying individuals for their hard work,” he said. “It’s totally ridiculous. We’re going to sit at the table andbicker over a few pennies.”Ory’s motion failed 6-4, with Ory, Gendron, Keller and Triche voting for it; Mitchell, LeBouef, Bardell, DeLong, Madere and Wise voting against it; and Watkins abstaining.

The board voted on the original motion to accept the child care program, which passed 9-0. Watkins and Keller abstained.Although a vote was taken and the board moved on to other topics, Bardell’s mention of the negotiating team wasn’t forgotten.

Close to the end of the meeting, Ory made a motion to pay the negotiating team $20 an hour for each hour they spent negotiating. DeLong declared hismotion out of order, so Bardell requested that it be on the next agenda for discussion.

“They should be paid about $60,” she said. “We want it at the next meetingso as not to further it anymore.”

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