Board doesn’t discuss budget

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 10, 2010

By David Vitrano


EDGARD – With budget-related items off the agenda for the most part at Thursday’s St. John the Baptist Parish School Board meeting, the tensions that have characterized meetings of late seemed mostly absent from the proceedings.

In fact, the one item that was budget-related, Superintendent Courtney Millet’s Central Office reorganization plan, caused the only real controversy of the evening.

When the item was introduced by Director of Human Resources Leigh Ann Beard, who was standing in for the absent superintendent, School Board Vice President Patrick Sanders moved the board accept the reorganization plan from the 2009-2010 school year instead. His motion was accepted and passed easily.

The new reorganization plan, however, eliminated some positions that were present in the 2009-10 model, but whether the action means the Central Office will now have to fill certain positions, such as the position of supervisor of child welfare and attendance recently vacated by Perry DiCarlo, remains to be seen. Beard said she would have to wait for Millet to return to figure that out.

Beard also introduced a new pricing scheme for Kelly Educational Staffing, which supplies substitute teachers to the district. The new prices reflect the 10 percent decrease the district asked of all its vendors for the upcoming fiscal year.

The new prices were discussed at a Personnel Committee meeting earlier in the week, but there was no quorum at the meeting, so no official action was taken. Sanders asked that another committee meeting be held before the board acts on the matter.

The consulting firm CSRS introduced proposed changes to the Facilities Master Plan regarding the major renovation project at LaPlace Elementary School, To more accurately reflect the school’s current student population, representatives from CSRS said about $1.3 million would have to be added to the budget for the project.

The original estimate was given for a projected student population of 750, but the current total stands at 1,053 and is expected to hold steady, so the plans for the school have been modified to accommodate 1,100.

Board member Russell Jack asked why the population was so much more than originally planned for, especially in light of the opening of Emily C. Watkins Elementary School last August.

“We had to redo the numbers,” said Board President Gerald Keller, who explained the Justice Department rejected the board’s original attendance zone scheme, so when they redrew them, more students were allocated to LES.

The item was for introduction purposes only, so no action was taken, but at least one board member, Russ Wise, said he was “philosophically opposed” to having such a large elementary school in the middle of a residential area.

Also Thursday, the board unanimously approved the revised Student Code of Conduct and Attendance handbook.