School Board to get budget

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 2, 2010

By David Vitrano


RESERVE – Attendance should once again be high as the St. John the Baptist Parish School Board meets in special session Thursday.

The introduction of the original budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year will be the main draw as scores of district employees await the resolution of the current budget deficit.

The budget must be introduced at Thursday’s meeting if the district hopes to meet the July 1 deadline set by the state. Board members will receive a copy of the budget along with a salary schedule for the 2010-11 fiscal year and a copy of the final budget numbers from 2009-10. Board members will be expected to approve the budget at the June 17 meeting.

Although negotiations continue between the administration and the St. John Association of Educators, some specifics may be worked out even after final numbers are approved.

In a letter, SJAE President Carolyn Batiste said, “We were always and remain willing to work diligently with the administration in the process. However, to date, the administration’s requests have been unreasonable.”

Those requests have included a 5 percent pay cut, a number that was eventually reduced to 3 percent before being rejected outright by the union. Administration has also requested a pay freeze, but the union has been unwilling to commit to the freeze because the administration has not said the freeze will save any of the proposed 51 districtwide layoffs.

Said Batiste, “The Association believes that the proposed layoffs violate multiple provisions of the existing contract with the school system in that they have not been properly negotiated with the association and have not been made on a systemwide basis.”

According to district Media Coordinator Heidi Trosclair, however, the administration does not need union approval to implement a reduction in force.

Also Thursday, the board will review bids for a number of construction projects throughout the parish, including projects at Lake Pontchartrain Elementary, East St. John Elementary, John L. Ory Elementary, West St. John High School and the Central Office.

The board will meet at 4 p.m. in the Godchaux Grammar Cafeteria in Reserve.