St. John School Board set guidelines for disaster recovery firms

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 22, 2013

By Kimberly Hopson

RESERVE – The St. John the Baptist Parish School Board rounded out the close of the school year with two meetings last week aimed at wrapping up the current year and preparing for the next.
The school board’s Disaster Selection Committee met last Tuesday to discuss selecting a firm to receive the still-pending disaster management contract. Familiar contenders HGI Environmental Services and CSRS have submitted proposals for consideration, along with one other company, J. Caldarera & Co., a LaPlace-based construction company.
The committee decided each company will have a set time limit of 30 minutes to do a short presentation and question/answer session. Committee members will create a list of premeditated questions to ask each company and use the information gathered from their presentations and answers to decide which will receive the contract to handle the recovery of East St. John High and Lake Pontchartrain Elementary. The committee members will submit their choice to the school board on June 13.
The school board began a new process of awarding the disaster management contract during their March 21 meeting, when legal advisor Orenthal Jasmin revealed that the manner in which the board initially awarded the contract to both CSRS and HGI Environmental Services was not in compliance with FEMA rules and that the process should have been a request for qualifications, or RFQ, and not an request for proposals, or RFP.
In their regular meeting last Thursday, the St. John School Board honored Teachers of the Year nominees in elementary, middle and high school categories. Each of the teachers received a plaque and a short speech about their accomplishments.
The elementary-level teachers of the year were: Erin Remondet of Emily C. Watkins; Chantelle Epperly of Garyville/Mt. Airy Magnet School; Sue Miller of John L. Ory; Raquel Pigee of LaPlace Elementary; Melissa Billings of Lake Pontchartrain Elementary; Shannon Tobias of West St. John Elementary; and Nikki Sewell of Fifth Ward Elementary.
The middle school-level teachers of the year were: Rachel Chaney of Emily C. Watkins; Taschica Hansley of Garyville/Mt. Airy Magnet School; Gerard Simms of John. L. Ory; Keela Joseph of LaPlace Elementary; Tracy Naquin of Lake Pontchartrain Elementary; Bridget Colle of West St. John Elementary; and Michelle Laurent of Fifth Ward Elementary.
The high school-level teachers of the year were: Deneisha Adams of East. St. John and Deanna Edenfield of West. St. John.
The recipients of the district-level Teacher of the Year awards were: Melissa Billings, Tracy Naquin and Deanna Edenfield.  
The Southeast Dairy Association recognized Heaven Mamou, a student at Garyville/Mt. Airy Magnet School, as state ambassador for Fuel Up to Play 60, an in-school nutrition and physical activity program created in partnership with the NFL. Debbie Perkins, a physical education teacher at the school, was also recognized as Program Advisor of the Year for the program.
Chiho Okuizumi, a representative from VH1’s Save the Music Foundation, also attended the meeting to discuss the possibility of the school system participating in the program. Okuizumi said the foundation would give approximately $30,000 worth of musical instruments to a pre-selected school in the district. The school would have the option of choosing between several different instrument packages, such as band instruments, string instruments, keyboard or mariachi.
The school board also has the option to re-apply to the program each year so all schools in the district have the chance to receive new instruments. Okuizumi said the school will be required to hire a music educator at some point during the process to properly utilize the new tools, though she did not specify whether the hire must occur before or after receiving the instruments.
Superintendent Herbert Smith said the school district already has several applications on file for a music educator, and Emily C. Watkins Elementary will be the first school in the district to receive the instruments should the board choose to move forward with the program.
To date, VH1 Save The Music has donated more than $49.5 million worth of new musical instruments to nearly 1,850 public schools in close to 200 school districts around the country, impacting the lives of more than 2.1 million public school students.