The Beauregard Parish School Board met in regular session Thursday, August 11, 2016, at 6:00 p.m. in the Central Office Board Room. The following board members were present: David Vidrine, Charles Hudson, Martha Jackson, Darrin Manuel, Wesley Taylor, Don Gray, L. D. Spears, Kathy Bruner, Ray Bowman, Cassie Henry, and Student Representative Kailey Bailey.
Timothy J. Cooley, Superintendent, was present and acted as secretary.
The Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance were led by Chad Schulz.
David Vidrine asked whether board members had reviewed the agenda and stated that he would accept a motion to adopt the agenda, as presented. There being no discussion, Cassie Henry offered a motion to adopt the agenda, which was seconded by Ray Bowman and adopted.
Board members were first asked to consider adopting the minutes of the July 6, 2016, special board meeting, as published in the official journal. Kathy Bruner offered a motion to to adopt the minutes of the July 6, 2016, special board meeting, which was seconded by Wesley Taylor. Upon voting, the minutes of the July 6, 2016, special board meeting, as published in the official journal, were adopted by a margin of 8-0 (Bowman and Manuel abstained.)
Next, board members considered adopting the minutes of the July14, 2016, regular school board meeting, as published in the official journal. Upon motion of Wesley Taylor, seconded by Darrin Manuel, board members voted to adopt the minutes of the July 14, 2016, regular school board meeting as published in the official journal.
The Superintendent’s Report began with an announcement that Beauregard Parish school principals Tammy Crain, Wesley Henry, and Teresa Parmley had been approved to receive the Principal’s Fellowship Grant for the 2016-2017 school year. This grant is a working, sharing, collaboration opportunity for principals to interact with their peers throughout the state.
Board members were reminded that school board disclosure forms advising the Louisiana Ethics Administration where family members are employed by the school system are due within 30 days of the first day of school.
According to Mr. Cooley, all schools were in session as of August 10, 2016, and Mr. Cooley thanked everyone for a successful start to the 2016-2017 school year.
Next, board members received an update on filling the vacancies left by several retirements over the summer. Mr. Cooley noted that Eddie Joslin and Cord Ensminger have been selected to fill instructional supervisor positions. Denise Maddox will fill the assistant principal position at DeRidder High School and David Wentzel will take over as the principal at DeRidder Junior High School, while Andrew Duplechin will fill the assistant principal position at DJHS. Mike Green will become the principal at Beauregard Alternative and board members were advised that advertising for an assistant principal at East Beauregard High School will begin shortly.
Next, Mr. Cooley asked Kim Hayes to share the early results of spring testing, advising board members that while all scores have not been received, preliminary results can be shared. Ms. Hayes noted that student scores for LEAP testing in English/Language Arts and Math in grades 3-8 were available, as well as ACT information and some End-of-Course testing results. Board members were reminded that School and District Performance Scores would be received in October, and would be shared when they became available. Ms. Hayes summarized the results, noting that Beauregard Parish equaled or exceeded state averages in many areas, and acknowledged that some areas showed where improvements could be made. One area of particular concern was online testing, where keyboarding skills may have presented a challenge. Mr. Cooley noted that keyboarding skills would be emphasized at younger age levels going forward, to prepare students for the eventuality that testing would be exclusively online at higher grade levels.
To conclude the Superintendent’s Report, Mr. Cooley noted that the Women’s Ministry of the Beauregard Baptist Association would host a school safety seminar at 9:00 am, August 20, 2016, in the Carver Elementary School gym. Guest speakers will include the superintendent, Steve Newsom, and Ellis Spikes representing the school system, along with several community officials and leaders. Several principals have been scheduled to sit on a question-and-answer panel, following the presentations.
The next item on the agenda was “To consider and take action with respect to adopting a resolution giving preliminary approval to the issuance of General Obligation School Refunding Bonds, of Parishwide School District of the Parish of Beauregard, State of Louisiana; making application to the State Bond Commission for approval of said Bonds; and providing for other matters in connection therewith.” Grant Schlueter, Bonding Attorney with Foley & Judell, was present to explain that interest rates remain at historic lows, which would make market conditions favorable for refunding series 2009A bonds. According to Mr. Schlueter, adopting the resolution would grant permission for Foley & Judell to make application to the state bond commission for permission to pursue refunding the bonds. If the application is approved, Foley & Judell would monitor the bond market to determine the optimal time for going out for bids on refunding the bonds and bring that back to the board for approval. Board members were advised that refunding the bonds at current interest rates could potentially save the taxpayers around $375,000. Mr. Schlueter explained how the refunding process worked, relative to escrow, pay-off, payment of fees, and other matters in response to board member questions. Don Gray offered a motion to adopt a resolution giving preliminary approval to the issuance of General Obligation School Refunding Bonds, of Parishwide School District of the Parish of Beauregard, State of Louisiana; making application to the State Bond Commission for approval of said Bonds; and providing for other matters in connection therewith, which was seconded by Ray Bowman. In a roll call vote, the motion to adopt the resolution was approved by a margin of 10-0 with Vidrine, Hudson, Henry, Bowman, Bruner, Spears, Gray, Taylor, Manuel, and Jackson voting in favor of approving the resolution.
Following board action on the resolution, Mr. Vidrine read the next agenda item: To announce a meeting to be held on September 8, 2016, at 6:00 p.m. at the Beauregard Parish School Board Central Office, 202 W. Third Street, DeRidder, LA, to adopt a millage rate for 2016. Lesia Casanovas reminded the board that, during the meeting in July only three of the millages were levied, leaving the millage for the parishwide bond payment to be levied at a later date. Board members learned that the millage would be levied in September and that reading this agenda item was sufficient to satisfy the public notification requirement for millage adoptions.
The next item was to consider adopting the budget for the fiscal year ending 2017, after having completed all requirements under R. S. 36:1306, including public notice, public inspection, public hearing, and general summary. The first concern board members expressed was the amount that expenditures were anticipated to exceed revenue in the FYE 2017. Ms. Casanovas stated that the amount by which expenditures were expected to exceed revenue was estimated to be $4.2 million, but board members were cautioned that this amount encompassed around $785,000 bond money that was from previous bond sales. According to Ms. Casanovas, the largest part of the variance could be found in the general fund, about $2.7 million, which includes the $1.8 million expected to be spent on construction projects. Ms. Casanovas clarified how the amount was determined for the workers’ compensation self-insurance fund, explaining that this assigned amount was to cover catastrophic claims that could not be paid through other sources and that this was required by the excess coverage insurance provider. In response to questions about why funds were not transferred from general fund, Ms. Casanovas stated that the funds are transferred as part of a year-end closing process, when all outstanding claims for the year have been assessed. Board members discussed bond construction projects, other approved construction expenses, future classroom space needs, the budget stabilization fund, and ways to bring down spending to try to reduce the expected deficit. Salaries and benefits were acknowledged as the most significant item affecting the budget, and board members agreed that costs in this area needed to be examined for potential savings. In response to a question regarding the 25 new employees listed for August, board members were reminded that this number included no new positions and that–whenever possible–positions that became vacant were left unfilled. There was a lengthy discussion of expenditures from the ad valorem fund, which is designated for operations and maintenance and from which most maintenance salaries are paid. Ms. Casanovas explained that a budget is a projection and subject to change, and could be impacted by changes in both expenditures and revenue. Board members expressed a desire for the first budget revision to show no deficit in the ad valorem fund. Upon motion of Don Gray, seconded by Kathy Bruner, board members adopted the FYE 2017 by a margin of 9-1 (Hudson)
Following the budget discussion, board members were asked to consider adopting the Louisiana Compliance Questionnaire for audit purposes. Ms. Casanovas explained that the questionnaire was unchanged from last year, and that it simply identified board members and key staff members, and assured the auditor that all applicable Louisiana laws and board policies were being followed. Board members were advised that completion of the questionnaire was required by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor. Upon motion of Darrin Manuel, seconded by Wesley Taylor, board members adopted the Louisiana Compliance Questionnaire for audit purposes.
Next, board members were asked to consider approval of changes in the Plan for Personnel Evaluation. James Herrington explained that the only change being suggested was to update the reference to Common Core State Standards, to reflect the recent adoption of the new Louisiana Student Standards in the job descriptions of the Principal and Assistant Principal. Upon motion of Darrin Manuel, seconded by Charles Hudson, board members approved the changes in the Plan for Personnel Evaluation.
The next agenda item was to hear recommendations from the Finance Committee. The first of these recommendations was a motion to recommend advertising for bids on the construction of a new band room at South Beauregard Upper Elementary and South Beauregard High School. When a voice vote was inconclusive, board members voted in a roll call vote, as follows: Voting in favor of the motion were Martha Jackson, Darrin Manuel, Don Gray, Martha Spears, Kathy Bruner, and Ray Bowman. Voting against were Wesley Taylor, Charles Hudson, David Vidrine, and Cassie Henry. The motion to recommend advertising for bids on the construction of a new band room at South Beauregard Upper Elementary and South Beauregard High School passed 6-4.
The second recommendation from the Finance Committee was a motion to accept any offer of at least $300 on the portable building, and if unsold at the time of the September board meeting, to consider placing it in a public auction. The motion was approved upon voting.
Next, board members heard a recommendation from the Building and Grounds Committee, a motion to approve a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Beauregard Parish School Board, Beauregard Parish Police Jury, and Beauregard Parish Office of Homeland Security/Emergency Preparedness, concerning a hurricane shelter. Upon voting the motion was approved.
The final agenda item was to discuss the dates for the September meetings. Mr. Cooley advised board members that the committee meetings would fall on Labor Day. After discussing the options, and being reminded that the Finance Committee would address the tabled item concerning the Singer High School track, as well as disposition of the portable building, board members agreed to move committee meetings to Thursday, September 8, 2016, at 5:30 pm, immediately preceding the regular board meeting at 6:00 pm.
There being no further business, upon motion of Wesley Taylor, seconded by Cassie Henry, the meeting was adjourned by general consent.