Budget meetings producing few results

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 29, 2010

By David Vitrano


RESERVE – As the deadline for a complete and balanced budget draws near, an agreement between the St. John the Baptist parish school system and the St. John teachers’ union appears no closer than it was weeks ago when negotiations began.

The School Board convened Thursday evening for an update on negotiations but no official action was taken, much to the chagrin of district employees, who have been attending meetings lately with considerable regularity.

While Superintendent Courtney Millet declined to comment on the state of negotiations, Carolyn Batiste, the head of the local union, said the union will be meeting with their attorneys Monday. Following a vote Monday that killed a proposed 3-percent salary reduction, the system will likely be looking at layoffs to make up for the current shortfall.

In the meantime, union meetings continue. “We’re continually meeting,” said Batiste.

For their part, the administration has already drawn up a tentative budget, which will be officially presented to the school board at their June 3 meeting.

Heidi Trosclair, media coordinator for the school system, said while the district needs approval for pay reductions, no approval is necessary to reduce workforce where necessary. “(Millet) has to take whatever action is necessary to present a balanced budget,” she said.

Trosclair also said Millet has the right to choose which positions are eliminated.

The School Board must approve a balanced budget by July 1.

One announcement that was made Thursday was the new summer hours for the central office. From May 31 to June 24 the School Board Office will be open Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.

Millet said the modified schedule will save energy costs and allow time for technological maintenance.

Neighboring St. James and St. Charles parishes already maintain a similar summer schedule.

The next School Board meeting will take place Thursday, June 3, at 4 p.m. in the Godchaux Grammar cafeteria.