St. John School Board votes relief payment

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 21, 2005

RESERVE — The St. John the Baptist Parish School Board has voted to give all school system employees a one-time $750 payment to assist them in their hurricane recovery efforts, according to a press release.

The payment will go to all teachers, administrators and staff workers who were employed with the system as of Aug. 26, which was the final work day prior to Hurricane Katrina.

“Everyone has been affected by this hurricane. Many have taken people into their homes; others have suffered significant damages. Many people have spent their last dime to get through this experience, and we want to help,” said School Board Vice President Patrick Sanders.

Superintendent Michael Coburn said the check were mailed to employees Sept. 19 and 20.

School board members called for a 10-minute recess in their regular 6 p.m. meeting at the Godchaux Cafeteria to review the system’s budget and one-time payment options. Upon reconvening, Clarence Triche offered a motion to give employees a $600 payment, but board member Matthew Ory submitted a substitute motion to raise the amount to $750. The substitute motion passed by a vote of 8 to 3, with members Dowie Gendron and Lowell Bacas.

“Making our employees a priority is putting a priority on our students. Our students can’t be at their best if those working with them are struggling,” Ory said.

Board member Keith Jones asked Finance Director Felix Boughton if the system “could afford” a $750 payment to all employees.

Boughton responded such a payment might cause the school board to tap some of its surplus fund, which now stands at about $5 million, but that depended on whether the school system received an increase in its projected sales tax revenues.

Board members praised employees, and especially staff support workers, for

their work to prepare the schools to re-open on Sept. 12. They also noted that school employees returned to care for nearly 2,000 extra students who are currently residing in the parish because of the storm.

“If it were not for the hard work of our employees, especially our support personnel, we would not have opened on time. We want you to know that we appreciate you,” said School Board President Gerald Keller, Ph.D.