The Beauregard Parish School Board met in regular session Thursday, January 10, 2019, at 6:00 pm in the Central Office Board Room. David Vidrine, Darrin Manuel, Ray Bowman, Kathy Bruner, Garrett Greene, Cassie Henry, Wesley Taylor, Martha Jackson, Casey Jones, Nikki Weldon, and Student Representative Maili Bartz were present.
Timothy J. Cooley, Superintendent, was present and acted as secretary.
The Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance were led by Wesley Henry.
David Vidrine asked whether all board members had received a copy of the agenda and stated he would entertain a motion to adopt the agenda as presented. Upon motion of Wesley Taylor, seconded by Cassie Henry, board members voted in favor of adopting the agenda as presented.
Mr. Vidrine stated that the first order of business would be to elect officers of the Beauregard Parish School Board for 2019, and turned the process over to Superintendent Cooley. Mr. Cooley opened the floor to nominations for president and Wesley Taylor nominated David Vidrine to the position of president. Needing no second and hearing no other nominations, Superintendent Cooley asked for all board members in favor of Mr. Vidrine serving as president to affirm the selection, and hearing no opposition, declared David Vidrine the Beauregard Parish School Board President for 2019.
Next, Mr. Vidrine informed board members that he would accept nominees for vice-president. Martha Jackson nominated Darrin Manuel to the office of vice-president. Hearing no other nominations, Mr. Vidrine stated that he would accept a motion to elect Mr. Manuel as vice-president by acclamation and to close the nominations. Upon motion of Ray Bowman, seconded by Wesley Taylor, board members voted to approve Darrin Manuel as vice-president.
The next item was to seat the new Student Representative to the Beauregard Parish School Board. Tammy Crain advised board members that the 2018 Student Representative Maili Bartz would deliver her farewell remarks to the board. Ms. Bartz began by stating that she was not sure what to expect upon being chosen, but wished to express her gratitude for having had the opportunity to serve. Ms. Bartz received a plaque in recognition of her service. Ms. Crain introduced the nominees from each of the parish schools, recognizing Jenna Pottmeyer of East Beauregard Elementary as the Student Representative Alternate and introducing Courtney Smith of DeRidder High School as the Student Representative to the Beauregard Parish School Board for 2019.
Following the seating of the student representative, Casey Jones offered a motion to adopt the minutes of the November 29, 2018, special meeting of the Beauregard Parish School Board, as published in the official journal, which was seconded by Kathy Bruner and approved upon voting.
Next, board members were asked to consider adopting the minutes of the December 13, 2018, regular meeting of the Beauregard Parish School Board, as published in the official journal. Upon motion of Ray Bowman, seconded by Darrin Manuel, board members voted in favor of adopting the minutes of the December 13, 2018, regular meeting of the Beauregard Parish School Board, as published in the official journal. Cassie Henry stated that she wished to abstain.
Before beginning the Superintendent’s report, Mr. Cooley asked the new student representative, Courtney Smith, if she would like to say a few words. Ms. Smith expressed that she felt honored to be given the opportunity to serve as the students’ voice on the board and noted that she was looking forward to working with the board.
Next, Colonel Jarrett A. Thomas, Fort Polk Garrison Commander, advised board members that the base had just finished a two-week break, and was resuming normal training rotations. In addition, Colonel Thomas explained to board members that, in response to popular demand, a new smartphone app had been released that would allow people to keep up with events and happenings on Fort Polk. Finally, Colonel Thomas revealed that the Fort Polk website had been given a major overhaul, making it more user friendly, to make information easier to find.
Mr. Cooley welcomed the new and returning board members, stating that he was looking forward to working with everyone during what is sure to be a busy year. Board members were reminded that the deadline to register for the annual convention is drawing near and were asked to coordinate with Ms. Archer if they needed help registering. According to Mr. Cooley, the convention–which will take place February 24-26–will be held at the Golden Nugget casino in Lake Charles, and board members were asked to let Ms. Archer know by Friday, January 11, 2019, if they would need a room reservation at that time.
Board members were advised that the Harvey Rabbit show would be visiting the elementary schools in the parish, sharing an anti-bullying message and encouraging students to remain drug-free.
Mr. Cooley shared that the following administrative contracts were being renewed with effective dates of July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2021: Margie Hieronymus, Director of Title I; Lesia Casanovas, Director of Business/Finance; Eddie Joslin, Instructional Supervisor; Chad Schulz, Principal, South Beauregard Elementary; and Wesley Taylor, Principal, South Beauregard Upper Elementary. In addition, the contract for David Wentzel, Principal, DeRidder Junior High School will be renewed with the effective dates of July 14, 2019, through July 13, 2021.
The next agenda item called for board members to receive the financial reports from the prior month. Lesia Casanovas reviewed the expenditures and revenue of the major budget areas and explained that the ad valorem funds were received earlier in the day, but there had been insufficient time to update the reports, which had been printed and emailed a few days before the meeting. Ms. Casanovas gave a verbal report on how the disbursement of the ad valorem tax collections on January 4 of $12.9M changed the account balance of several accounts, including Ad Valorem, +$3.39 million; Debt Services, +$3.6 million; and General Fund, +$5.7million. pon motion of Wesley Taylor, seconded by Darrin Manuel, board members voted to receive the financial reports from the prior month.
Board members were asked to consider adopting a resolution ordering and calling a special election to be held in Parishwide School District of the Parish of Beauregard, State of Louisiana, to authorize the incurring of debt and issuance of bonds therein; making application to the State Bond Commission in connection therewith; and providing for other matters in connection therewith. In response to a question, Grant Schlueter advised board members that they could approve the resolution, but that if the board could not agree on a capital improvement project list, or if they just decided not to move forward, they could, indeed, cancel the request for a special election. Further, Mr. Schlueter stated that ideally the best time to do this would be before absentee ballots were printed, noting that he would have to verify the date of this, but he advised board members that he felt that the next regular meeting date would not be too late. Board members were assured that they had complete discretion in developing the project list, stating only that the list must be made available to the public prior to the election. Mr. Schlueter briefly explained the circumstances that led to the ability to consider this election, beginning with the refinancing of bonds over the last few years to reduce the interest being paid. Coupled with an unanticipated rise in property values, the current millage rate of 17.8 mils would be sufficient to pay principal and interest on current obligations, as well as a new bond issue. Mr. Schlueter responded to a question by stating that bond funds must be spent within a three year period, and that it would possibly be 5-7 years before another opportunity arose to call another bond election with an amount comparable to the current opportunity, without increasing the prevailing millage rate, acknowledging that this opportunity was primarily the result of the significant rise in property values. Board members were reminded that bond funds were only to be used for capital improvement projects (not operations and maintenance) and discussed how to value each project added to the list, the process for seeking bond funds in future, and talked about the implications of not seeking this election. Mr. Schlueter emphasized that if the election were not held on May 4, then when the time came for the board to levy millages on the 2019 tax rolls, it would be required for the board to roll the millage rate back. If this were to happen, the amount that could be sought in the future without a tax increase would only be around $11 million, rather than the $29 million available only if the millage rate could continue unchanged at 17.8 mils. For the benefit of new board members, Mr. Schlueter reviewed the bond process, noting that when money is needed for capital improvement, the board may choose to sell bonds, in effect borrowing money for improvements from banks and other financial institutions in a competitive proposal process to get the lowest interest rate. Money to repay the “loans” is obtained through the yearly collection of taxes on parish property subject to taxation. The recent rise in property values means that more taxes will be collected without raising the tax rate, giving the board the ability to pay additional obligations. If there are no additional obligations (from the sale of bonds), then by law the board must reduce the tax rate to bring in only what it needs to fulfill its current obligations. Mr. Schlueter reviewed the legal obligations regarding public notice, which includes publishing notices in the official journal and notifying state legislators. Board members were advised that special meetings would be required to develop and prioritize a project list, and were encouraged to make themselves available for these. Upon motion of Cassie Henry, seconded by Kathy Bruner, board members voted to adopt a resolution ordering and calling a special election to be held in Parishwide School District of the Parish of Beauregard, State of Louisiana, to authorize the incurring of debt and issuance of bonds therein; making application to the State Bond Commission in connection therewith; and providing for other matters in connection therewith.
Next, upon motion of Darrin Manuel, seconded by Ray Bowman, board members voted to approve a tax collection agreement between the Beauregard Parish School Board and Ricky M. Moses, Sheriff and Ex-Officio Tax Collector.
The final agenda item was for board members to consider issuing an RFP for remaining 2015-2016 Category 2 E-Rate monies. Tina Simmons advised board members that just over $100,000 remained, and Marlin Ramsey added that the program had been extended to allow the funds to be used, but that all equipment would have to be installed by 2020. The cost to the board would be around $0.15 on the dollar, for a total of about $20,000. Board members were told that the funds would be distributed in the same proportion as specified in the original grant. Upon motion of Darrin Manuel, seconded by Garrett Greene, board members voted in favor of issuing an RFP for remaining 2015-2016 Category 2 E-Rate monies.
Mr. Vidrine advised board members that a date would be scheduled for a meeting to begin developing a bond project list and Mr. Ramsey asked about bringing a list of potential architects. In response to a question, Mr. Cooley advised that the Discipline Policy Review Committee date would be available by next week and Mr. Vidrine stated that Mr. Bowman would serve as the board’s representative on the Discipline Policy Review Committee.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.
PROCEEDINGS OF THE PARISH SCHOOL BOARD OF THE PARISH OF BEAUREGARD, STATE OF LOUISIANA, TAKEN AT A SPECIAL MEETING HELD TUESDAY, JANUARY 22, 2019.
The Parish School Board of Beauregard Parish met in Special Session on Tuesday, January 22, 2019, beginning at 4 o'clock (4:00) pm, in the Beauregard Parish School Board Central Office, at 202 W. Third Street, DeRidder, LA., pursuant to the following written notice given to each and every member thereof and duly posted in the manner required by law:
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that a SPECIAL MEETING of the Beauregard Parish School Board of the Parish of Beauregard, State of Louisiana, has been ordered and called and will be held on January 22, 2019, beginning at 4 o'clock (4:00) pm, in the Beauregard Parish School Board Central Office, at 202 W. Third Street, DeRidder, LA.
*1. To receive committee assignments for 2019.
*2. To discuss process for proceeding with possible bond projects
*3. To discuss ideas and projects related to issuance of bond monies.
Board members present were President David Vidrine, Nikki Weldon, Martha Jackson, Wesley Taylor, Cassie Henry, and Ray Bowman. Kathy Bruner and Garrett Greene arrived after the meeting was underway, at 4:25 pm and 4:30 pm, respectively. Vice-President Darrin Manuel arrived at 4:45 pm. Casey Jones was absent.
Timothy J. Cooley, Superintendent, was present and acted as secretary.
The invocation and pledge were led by Eddie Joslin.
A motion to adopt the agenda as presented was offered by Cassie Henry, and seconded by Ray Bowman. Upon voting, board members adopted the agenda as presented.
The first agenda item was for board members to receive their committee assignments for 2019. Mr. Vidrine thanked the board for another opportunity to serve as the board president. The following committee assignments were announced for 2019:
All members - Vice-president is chairman
Martha Jackson - Chairperson
Alternate: David Vidrine
Darrin Manuel (Alternate: Cassie Henry)
Martha Jackson (Alternate: Casey Jones)
Building and Grounds Committee
Wesley Taylor - Chairperson
Alternate: David Vidrine
Discipline Policy Review Committee
All members - President is chairperson
Upon motion of Wesley Taylor, seconded by Ray Bowman, board members voted to approve the committee appointments as presented.
Next, board members were asked to discuss process for proceeding with possible bond projects. Mr. Vidrine explained that in January the board had to decide whether to proceed with a bond election in May 2019 that would allow for the issuance of $29 million in bonds for capital improvement projects without raising the prevailing millage rate, or postpone the bond election until the fall, which would result in the millage amounts being adjusted downward, meaning the board would only be able to seek around $11 million in bonds, at that lower millage rate. Acknowledging the short time frame, Mr. Vidrine stated that the purpose of the meeting was to determine direction, with the general consensus among board being that individual school-based steering committees were not an option due to time constraints. In addition, according to Mr. Vidrine and Mr. Cooley, because of the action taken in January, it was presumed that the board would proceed with the plans to seek the $29 million. Board members were advised that it would require a motion and approval to stop the process, ideally no later than the February meeting date. Concern was expressed that the community was already asking whether there had been any plans to close G.W. Carver Elementary. Board members shared community concerns regarding the allocation of bond funds. Mr. Vidrine encouraged board members to publicly support the efforts and future plans of the board as a whole, to give the community confidence that all students in the parish would benefit from the improvements that will be made with bond funds. In response to a question, Mr. Cooley stated that principals have been encouraged to create a wants/needs list, and added that these would be shared with the board, Maintenance staff have been consulted about where major improvements were needed, as well. Mr. Ramsey urged the board to consider the age and increasing maintenance costs in any decision concerning a new school.
Moving on to address the types of projects that might be completed in a bond issue, Mr. Cooley shared that there were about 475 air conditioning units across the parish that were more than 20 years old. One school still uses a boiler system, but would be more easily controllable if it were replaced with individual units. The discussion on the types of parish-wide projects that might be completed with bond funds included lighting and electrical upgrades, a cooling tower at a school, resurfacing some running tracks, and improving the support facilities to make the Singer High School track more useable. Mr. Cooley reminded board members that it was extremely helpful to have had some money set aside for technology, as was done with the last bond issue. Mr. Ramsey added that the oxidation pond on the South Beauregard campus needs some upgrades, as do the kitchen/dining facilities at Merryville High School. In addition, the MHS school offices need to re-located to be centrally accessible. The board was advised that it might be able to choose to purchase some buses with bond funds, and asked for further clarification. There are a few roofing projects needed in different areas of the parish. Mr. Vidrine inquired, if a new DeRidder school were to be decided upon, where would it be located? According to Mr. Vidrine, from a soil quality standpoint, the Pine Wood Elementary campus was most suitable. In addition, Mr. Vidrine observed that Carver Elementary was landlocked with no room to expand, and board members were reminded that the land at K. R. Hanchey was low-lying and wet. Board members requested enrollment information about the parish schools, and Mr. Cooley provided historical data from the 2014-2015 school year to present. Board members discussed the potential realignment of grades on the different campuses at length, and were told that from a testing standpoint, third grade (where standardized testing begins) should be on the same campus as fourth and fifth grades. There was discussion of how best to accommodate future growth at South Beauregard.
Board members expressed that it would be helpful to visit the schools and discussed the possibility of touring the schools. Several dates and times were mentioned, and the board scheduled a “field trip” to further assess the needs of each school, Wednesday, January 30, 2019 beginning at 8:00 am, focusing on the DeRidder area and visiting others as time permits.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.