School Board hoping to tie up loose ends

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 6, 2013

By Kimberly Hopson

LAPLACE – The firms assigned to manage the recovery efforts at Lake Pontchartrain Elementary and East St. John High School will provide pertinent updates during the St. John the Baptist Parish School Board’s regular meeting on Thursday.
Agenda items for the evening include updates from All South Engineering and Chasm and Fusion Architects regarding disaster recovery efforts and the Lake Pontchartrain temporary campus. Board members will also approve a bid for the installation of modular classroom buildings on the temporary campus. Chasm announced the selection of Satellite Shelters Inc., the company with the lowest responsible bid, as the company of choice for the purchase of modular buildings during the Oct. 24 meeting.
Board members accepted the company’s base bid of $1,153,711, according the architecture firm’s recommendation.
The board will also make a third attempt to tackle their issues regarding redistricting. An agenda item by board member Albert “Ali” Burl proposes a resolution authorizing the board’s legal counsel to seek an attorney general’s opinion on the redistricting issue. The board made a motion to have the board attorney draft a resolution seeking an attorney general’s opinion to find out whether the current redistricting plan can be implemented, or if it must be redone, after much ado during its previous meeting.
After receiving no response from the attorney general, the School Board found itself with a dilemma. School Board attorney Orenthal Jasmin recommended that the board take whatever steps necessary to correct the issue and went on to suggest that the lack of response dictates that the state’s position on the matter has not changed. The plan, as drawn by redistricting associate Cedric Floyd, cannot be implemented.
Floyd asserted, as he had previously, that there was nothing further for board members to do in the matter besides wait for St. John Parish officials to reconcile the precincts and also said that state approval was not necessary, since the plan already gained clearance from the U.S. Department of Justice. Floyd also said that the board only needs to wait until Jan. 1, when a window for precinct mergers will open.
In other items of interest, board member Rev. Rodney Nicholas will propose that the board adopt a resolution requesting that the state appropriate surplus funds to St. John the Baptist Parish School Board to assist in recovery/rebuilding efforts.