Change in air for St. John’s school board

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 20, 2001


LAPLACE – The new year is bringing several changes to St. John the Baptist Parish’s school system. At the Jan. 18 school board meeting an increase in teacher salaries, more recognition of those working hard in education and improved testing for substitute teachers were some of the topics discussed. An amended salary schedule was presented to the board by Felix Boughton, acting executive director of business and finance. An addition of $1,000 to head cooks and $1,333 to head janitors has been promised, in addition to $1,000 added to the teacher salary schedule. This addition is coming from the one-quarter cent sales tax increase that went into effect Jan. 1. The supplement will increase to $2,000 next fiscal year and will be adjusted annually depending on the sales tax collected. It is expected to go into effect Feb. 1. Though board members are pleased about the supplement for teachers, they are concerned about the closeness in the highest paid teacher salary and administrator pay. They are currently working on a way to remedy the problem. Board member Charles J. Watkins asked if the amendments had gone before the personnel committee. Though it had been approved by the finance committee, it had not been presented to personnel. “When you make changes to salary, you’re making changes to personnel so you have to bring it to them,” he said. After a slightly heated discussion about whether the schedule should go before personnel, Superintendent Chris Donaldson ruled there would be no more discussion on the topic until the next board meeting when they would have a full discussion. At the next meeting the final draft is expected to be presented for approval. Changing testing for substitute positions was also discussed at the meeting. Alfred Donaldson, director of human resources, proposed that the current policy stating that the California Achievement Test be given to screen applicants be changed to allow applicants to take the Test of Adult Basic Education. It has been determined that the CAT is time-consuming, not user-friendly for educators and cannot be administered or scored by computer. In addition, the test is the same test that children must take. The TABE test is designed for adults and can be administered, scored and reported on-line. This will reduce the time between application and placement. Donaldson said many other parishes, including St. Charles, have gone from the CAT to the TABE test. He assured the board that applicants who have already been tested via CAT will not have to take the TABE. Another agenda item was the announcement of School Nurse Day, which has been declared Jan. 24 by Gov. M. J. “Mike” Foster Jr. It will be a day to recognize nurses for caring for students in the state. Also, A new transportation assistant, Ronald Cassagne, was introduced to the board. Other business included discussion on capital projects expenditures. Projects include replacing piping, cooling systems and boilers in certain schools in the area for energy conservation and purchasing lunch room equipment. Vehicle maintenance and resurfacing some school tracks are other expenditures. It is expected to cost the school board $635,061 of the $1,069,202 in the construction fund. The rest would remain for emergencies. One capital project, installing an air conditioning system in John L. Ory’s broadcast studio, was declared an emergency by the board and will be repaired immediately. The broadcast equipment is in danger because of its sensitivity to dust and humidity.