St. James Parish schools hiring process questioned

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 20, 2011

By David Vitrano


LUTCHER – A pair of new hires within the St. James Parish Public School System created a bit of controversy, as both have residency outside the parish.

Mentioning the millage renewals that St. James voters passed overwhelmingly on April 2, board member Patricia Schexnayder said, “Every time we have a position, we go outside the parish. Our employees who live in St. James pay our taxes. This has gone on long enough.”

She then offered a substitute motion, seconded by Richard Reulet, to hold off on approving these hires until a more thorough in-parish search could be conducted.

Human Resources Director Carol Webre defended the hires, saying that while some applicants came from within the parish, the ones who were selected were the most qualified.

Before the vote, Superintendent Alonzo Luce added, “The board has entrusted me as superintendent to make decisions on who we hire and who we fire. We want the best-qualified people. If there is anything close, it will always go to the in-district person.”

Schexnayder’s substitute motion failed by a vote of 2-4. The personnel changes were then approved by a vote of 5-1, with Schexnayder casting the only dissenting vote.

The board also voted to delay the opening of bids on the Gramercy Elementary renovations until today to give bidders a chance to adjust their bids to take federal pay scale guidelines into consideration.

The delay was necessary because the district is expecting to use interest-free QSCB bonds to finance the project.

The board is expected to look at the bids before the central office closes for spring break Friday.

Lastly, the School Board took a few minutes to honor all the winners from the school- and district-level spelling bees as well as winners from the district’s Physical Fitness Meet.