St. John students get makeup day

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 25, 2001


RESERVE – St. John the Baptist Parish public school students will get out of school one day later this year. They will have to make up the day they lost because of the “Foster Flu,” a teacher sick-out held last month. Parish schools were closed March 12 as part of a teacher strike held to protest teacher salaries in the state. The state Department of Education requires students attend a total of 180 days, making the students now a day short. Students will make up the lost day on May 31. The school board voted to add the day at its April 19 meeting, in a 10-1 vote in favor of the make-up day. School Board Member Russ Wise was opposed to the idea, and was the sole member to vote against the proposal. “I am not going to make children and parents who have already been inconvenienced once be inconvenienced again. They already had to scramble around one day,” said Wise. “We can’t run this school system for adults. I feel that if we had left the school open, the vast majority would have gone along and went to school. Now we are going to make them come to school on a day when they shouldn’t have to.” Other board members argued that the decision to close schools was a safety precaution and adding the extra day is the only option they have. “I think it was a safety call, and I think it was up to the administration to make it,” said Board Member John Crose. “I didn’t think the walk-out was a good idea,” added Board Member Charles Watkins. “But we had a libel situation at the schools.” The school system had no other option than to add the day because of state requirements, so students will begin their summers June 1. The teacher sick-out in May was supported by 80 percent of teachers and support employees in the St. John school system. The 11th in the state, the local sick-out took place just after teachers and support personnel began receiving a salary increase the public approved by voting for a quarter-cent sales tax. At the time of the St. John case of “Foster Flu,” supporters of the sick-out said they were participating for the sake of the state’s low pay, to support teachers in other parishes. Some schools did not support the sick-out, but Superintendent Chris Donaldson announced all schools would be closed for the day. Administration felt it was a security precaution.