Honors, other business addressed by board

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 22, 2000

ERIK SANZENBACH / L’Observateur / March 22, 2000

RESERVE – It was a night for honoring students and faculty at the March 16 meeting of the St. John Parish School Board. The following awards andhonors were cited at the meeting: Assistant Superintendent Wilbert Ocmond presented certificates to more than 20 students who were winners in the Attendance Awareness Week Poster contest.

Ocmond also honored the students who were winners in the parish-wide Social Sciences Fair 2000. There were more than 90 students honored forplacing in the fair in categories such as anthropology, history, economics and political science.

Four teachers, Stanley Alexis, Willette Wallace, Cassandra Ratcliff and Jill Dunchick, were awarded River Parishes Education Initiative grants of $200 each to help instruct students in reading, computers, character- building and taking the LEAP test.

Four St. John Parish Schools, Garyville Magnet, West St. JohnElementary, Fifth Ward Elementary and East St. John Elementary shared aState Department of Education LEARN grant of $57,766.

Superintendent Chris Donaldson recognized two St. John teachers whoattended the Nicholls State University Region III Academy for Aspiring Leaders. Orlando Watkins of East St. John High and Linda King of East St.John Elementary attended the program in order to qualify for administrative positions in the school system.

Martha Cotton and Elizabeth Chacon, teachers at East St. JohnElementary, received master certification in reading education. This is thehighest level of national certification, and of 2,000 teachers trained, only 150 nationally have achieved Masters certification. Cotton and Chacon arethe only two in the state of Louisiana.

In other school board news: The LaPlace Lions Club donated a new optical tester to the St. JohnSchool Board. This machine will be used by school nurses to test thevision of students.

Director of Finance Nathan Stein asked the school board to extend the deadline for negotiations with the Siemans company from 30 days to 120 days. The school board is negotiating a performance contract withSiemans who will provide environmental and engineering safeguards to all the schools. Stein said that 30 days just wasn’t enough time and the boardunanimously granted the extension.

The school board was presented with refunding application for the Headstart Program. The basic grant was increased to $702,305. The school board unanimously voted to declare the roof leak at LaPlace Elementary an emergency situation so that bids could be taken for a contractor to fix the roof.

Board member Dr. Gerald Keller moved that funds be taken from theConstruction Fund and be used to improve the video and audio equipment used to record school board meetings. Keller and Donaldson said they haveeach received numerous complaints about poor audio quality on the tapes when they are broadcast on cable-access. The motion passed unanimously. Keller brought up the matter of teachers’ salaries. After attending theState School Board Conference in New Orleans, Keller says that the issue of salaries must be addressed. Out of 66 school districts in the state, St.John Parish teachers rank 52nd in pay, a drop from 36th place. Keller saidthat they must talk to the state legislative delegation and improve teacher pay to attract good teachers.

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