The Beauregard Parish School Board met in regular session Thursday, December 8, 2016, at 6:00 pm in the Central Office Board Room. The following board members were present: David Vidrine, Charles Hudson, Darrin Manuel, Don Gray, Ray Bowman, Kathy Bruner, Martha Jackson, Cassie Henry, and Student Representative Kailey Bailey. Wesley Taylor and L. D. Spears were absent.
Timothy J. Cooley, Superintendent, was present and acted as secretary.
The Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance were led by Pam March.
Mr. Vidrine asked board members to look at the agenda that had been prepared and there being no discussion or suggestions regarding the agenda, upon motion of Charles Hudson, seconded by Ray Bowman, board members voted in favor of adopting the agenda, as presented.
Next, board members were asked to consider adopting the minutes of the November 10, 2016, regular school board meeting, as published in the official journal. Upon motion of Don Gray, seconded by Ray Bowman, board members voted to adopt the minutes of the November 10, 2016, regular school board meeting as published in the official journal, with five “yes” votes and three abstentions (Bruner, Henry, and Jackson.)
Superintendent Cooley began the Superintendent’s report by advising board members that a bus driver certification class would begin Tuesday, December 13, 2016, and continue through Friday, December 16, 2016. Mr. Cooley stated that this training was being offered in preparation for coming retirements of regular route drivers, noting that the first semester had gone well in terms of filling absences and vacancies.
Board members learned that an evening welding class was in progress at Singer High School with 16 students participating, with another such class being offered at DeRidder High School during the spring semester. Mr. Cooley pointed out that some of the Singer students who currently reside in DeRidder might wish to transfer to DeRidder, when this class begins, which will create openings at both campuses for additional enrollments.
According to Mr. Cooley, the annual Superintendent’s Christmas Card Contest took place recently and board members’ attention was directed to the tri-fold presentation board, where the winning designs were displayed. Mr. Cooley stated that there were 138 entries submitted from across the parish and invited board members to a reception for the first place and honorable mention winners to be held in the board room at 2:00 pm on Monday, December 12, 2016.
Mr. Cooley advised board members that sales tax supplement checks would be issued on Friday, December 9, 2016, with employees paid from the teacher salary schedule receiving $1525 before withholdings, support employees receiving $1016.67 before withholdings and retirees receiving $119.45 before withholdings. Mr. Cooley called board members’ attention to the monthly sales tax report placed in each of their folders, noting that collections were down from the same period last year. Board members were informed that the supplement check amounts probably could have been smaller—based on collections—but that in consideration of the extra expenses incurred by many families during this season, the amounts were adjusted upward which may result in a smaller check in June. In addition, board members were advised that it had become necessary to use some of the reserve amount last year to offset continually rising benefit costs, which could result in a finding on the audit. Mr. Cooley noted that steps should be taken to restore that amount to the reserve, in the future. Mr. Cooley explained the formula for allocating the sales tax collections, once they are received, noting that future decreases in supplement check amounts could be anticipated if sales tax collections continued to decline. Mr. Cooley answered several questions about the process, explaining that the current supplement check amounts were estimated, based on the expected collections for the entire year, which would not be complete until June. It is hoped that collections for the remainder of the year will be sufficient to cover the higher amounts paid to employees in December and replenish the reserve, with the remainder to be distributed to employees in June. Board members were reminded that shopping locally was the only way ensure that the June sales tax supplement check amounts did not continue to decrease.
Next, Mr. Cooley stated that he was going to ask Kim Hayes to discuss recently released district and school report cards, noting that he had attended a meeting at Baton Rouge, where test scores and accountability were discussed, with particular attention being paid to the way progress points were awarded. Ms. Hayes began by showing an animated presentation, which started with a demographic summary, and announced that the 2016 district performance score was 89 (B), which represents a 1.6 point increase from the 2015 (87.4, B) score. Ms. Hayes continued to explain the factors which determine the district performance scores, highlighting areas where scores increased and noting areas where scores dipped slightly, emphasizing that these were areas where additional effort needed to be directed. In conclusion, Ms. Hayes pointed out that Beauregard Parish increased in four of the seven areas which make up the district performance score and advised board members that further details could be found on the Louisiana Department of Education website: www.louisianabelieves.com. In response to a question, Mr. Ramsey explained which students would be eligible for WorkKeys testing.
In closing the Superintendent’s report, Mr. Cooley congratulated South Beauregard Upper Elementary for being one of only two schools in Louisiana to receive the designation of Exemplary Title I School. Mr. Cooley explained that this honor was awarded based on closing the achievement gap between average students and those who are classified as economically disadvantaged. In addition, South Beauregard Upper Elementary will be recognized in February at the National Title I Convention, in Long Beach, California, where Principal Wesley Henry will receive an award and make a presentation on behalf of SBUE.
Following the Superintendent’s report, Mr. Cooley answered additional questions concerning the sales tax supplement check distribution.
For the next agenda item, “To consider and take action with respect to adopting a resolution providing for the issuance and sale of General Obligation School Refunding Bonds, Series 2017, of Parishwide School District of the Parish of Beauregard, State of Louisiana; and providing for other matters in connection therewith,” board members heard from Grant Schlueter, of Foley-Judell, that interest rates were exceptionally good at the current time, making it an ideal time to proceed with the previously approved bond refunding. Mr. Schlueter noted that an invitation to submit proposals had been forwarded to more than 20 banks, resulting in offers from three banks: First National Bank of DeRidder, Sabine State Bank, and Chase Bank. According to Mr. Schlueter, of the two banks submitting offers which met all of the criteria (Sabine State Bank and Chase Bank), Chase had submitted the proposal with the lowest interest rate, which–if accepted–would save the taxpayers more than $425,000. Mr. Schlueter reminded board members that, for the state bond commission to approve the refunding plan, a total savings to taxpayers of 3% was the threshold for approval, noting that the current offer placed the savings at 5.8%, well above that threshold. Board members discussed the proposal for several minutes, expressing concern that the fee for the bond refunding might further deplete any remaining bond funds, and being assured by Mr. Schlueter that the fee would not affect bond proceeds at all. Lesia Casanovas further clarified that the refunding fee would be paid from the Parishwide Debt Service fund. Upon motion of Ray Bowman, seconded by Cassie Henry, board members voted to approve the following recommendation: To consider and take action with respect to adopting a resolution providing for the issuance and sale of General Obligation School Refunding Bonds, Series 2017, of Parishwide School District of the Parish of Beauregard, State of Louisiana; and providing for other matters in connection, therewith.
The next agenda item was a recommendation from the Finance Committee to accept the change order regarding the South Beauregard band hall project. Mr. Vidrine reminded board members that the change order concerned sewer handling and would result in a decreased in project cost. There being no additional discussion, board members voted to approve the change order regarding the South Beauregard band hall project.
The final agenda item was a recommendation from the Policy Committee to accept revision of policy File:BCB, Board Procedures, and waive the waiting period. The suggested revision stated that if an incumbent were involved, four votes would be held, after which–if the tie remains–the matter would be moved to the next regular meeting for one additional vote. In response to a question about why casting lots would not be used to break a tie, if an incumbent were involved, board members were reminded that LA R.S. 42:2 and an Attorney General’s opinion stated that in the event of a tie vote, the incumbent retains the position, since no potential successor had received a majority as would be required to displace the incumbent. A suggestion was made to clarify that the incumbent must be one of the nominees involved in the tie vote for the provision regarding the incumbent to apply. Upon motion of Charles Hudson, seconded by Cassie Henry, board members approved the recommendation from the Policy Committee to accept revision of policy File:BCB, Board Procedures, and waive the waiting period.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned by general consent.