The Beauregard Parish School Board met in regular session Thursday, January 12, 2017, at 6:00 pm 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 Alternate, Lexie Sellers.
Timothy J. Cooley, Superintendent, was present and acted as secretary.
The Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance were led by Denise Maddox.
Before addressing the items on the agenda, David Vidrine asked board members to review the agenda that had been prepared and stated that he would entertain a motion to adopt the agenda as presented. Don Gray offered a motion to adopt the agenda, which was seconded by Wesley Taylor, and the motion was approved upon voting.
The first item of business on the agenda was to elect officers of the Beauregard Parish School Board for 2017. The floor was opened, and Charles Hudson nominated David Vidrine to serve as president. There being no other nominations, Mr. Hudson offered a motion that the nominations cease, which was seconded by Wesley Taylor. Upon voting, David Vidrine was elected president by acclamation. Mr. Vidrine opened the floor to nominations for vice-president. Kathy Bruner nominated Charles Hudson as vice-president. Upon hearing no other nominations, Wesley Taylor offered a motion that the nominations cease, which was seconded by Darrin Manuel. Upon voting, Charles Hudson was elected vice-president by acclamation.
The next item on the agenda was to seat the new Student Representative to the Beauregard Parish School Board. Ellis Spikes described the process of selecting a student representative, which includes receiving a faculty nomination, submission of a portfolio, and completion of a formal interview. Nominees from each school were recognized, as were their principals, student council advisors, and parents. Mr. Spikes announced that the student representative alternate for 2017 would be Danielle Broussard, of South Beauregard High School, and recognized Tabitha Deer, of DeRidder High School, as the 2017 Student Representative to the Beauregard Parish School Board. Lexie Sellers, outgoing 2016 Student Representative Alternate, presented Ms. Deer’s nameplate to her. In addition, Ms. Sellers received a plaque in appreciation for her service to the Board.
Next, board members were asked to consider adopting the minutes of the December 8, 2016, regular school board meeting, as published in the official journal. Upon motion of Ray Bowman, seconded by Cassie Henry, board members voted to adopt the minutes of the December 8, 2016, regular school board meeting as published in the official journal, by a margin of 9-0 (Wesley Taylor abstained.)
The Superintendent’s Report began with a request that board members check the official record of their 2016 training hours, which were placed in each board member’s folder. Tim Cooley advised board members that training hours would be announced during the February board meeting, and asked that they let Pam Archer know soon whether there are corrections that need to be made. In addition, board members were reminded that the deadlines for convention housing and registration were approaching quickly. Board members needing assistance with the convention registration process were asked to call Ms. Archer.
Board members received updated information on the status of evening classes beginning as part of the JumpStart initiative. Mr. Cooley noted that a Pipefitting I class would begin at South Beauregard High School, as would a Pipefitting IV class, which might be the only one of its kind in the state. Welding classes will begin at Singer High School and DeRidder High School, as well. According to Mr. Cooley the welding class at DeRidder High School will accommodate those students who were previously commuting to Singer High School for the welding classes, and will create room for additional students at Singer High School who wish to participate, as a result, although these classes are full and there is a waiting list.
Next, board members learned that Harvey Rabbit was scheduled for appearances in the parish elementary schools, and stated that Cord Ensminger was coordinating these programs. This year, Harvey Rabbit’s emphasis will be to encourage living a drug-free life. Past performances have focused on preventing bullying and getting along with others, and Mr. Cooley expressed his appreciation for their efforts.
In final remarks, Mr. Cooley advised board members that contracts for three employees were being renewed using the standard, two-year administrative contract previously approved by the board: Elizabeth Maricle, Instructional Supervisor; Jimmy Maricle, Principal, Pine Wood Elementary; and Wesley Henry, Principal, South Beauregard Upper Elementary. Each of these contracts will run from July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2019, according to Mr. Cooley.
Following the Superintendent’s Report, board members received financial statements and audit findings from J. Aaron Cooper, CPA. Mr. Cooper explained that the audit report was marked “Draft,” because although it had been submitted in a timely manner to the Office of the Legislative Auditor, it had not been formally accepted by that agency. Mr. Cooper further stated that he was able to categorize the audit as an “unqualified” opinion, which is the very best that an agency can hope to attain, meaning that there were no factors which would give an auditor cause to question or “qualify” the opinion based on the available information. The review began with an overview of the balance sheet containing summaries of fund balances, assets, and liabilities. Board members were advised that one of the findings concerned the sales tax reserve, which is mandated in policy, but not required under Louisiana law. According to Mr. Cooper, the board adopted a policy mandating that $300,000 be kept in reserve in the sales tax fund, but that fund was used to make the June sales tax supplement payment to employees a comparable amount to past years, with the expectation that – at year end – sales tax collections would be sufficient to restore the amount that was used from reserve. The reality is that the sales tax collections for the year were significantly lower than had been expected, and it was not possible to replace all of the reserve, but it will have to be replaced in the future. Board members discussed sales tax collections for several minutes, and were reminded that the only way to avoid using estimation to disperse the excess sales tax collections was to change the payment dates to January and July, instead of June and December, a suggestion which was very poorly received by employees.
Following the discussion on the sales tax collections, Mr. Cooper reviewed remaining audit items, which included a summary of operations for the year, including expenditures, which were just slightly over projections. Mr. Cooley noted that this cost overrun was largely the result of absorbing a major loss of property tax revenue and an increase in benefit cost from OGB in excess of half a million dollars. According to Mr. Cooley, had these two events not occurred, the budget likely would not have shown a deficit at year end. Moving on to the remaining audit findings, Mr. Cooper stated that one finding concerned ad valorem receipts being credited to the wrong fund, and noted that this had been corrected. The second finding concerned ad valorem fund variances, which exceeded the 5% maximum allowed by law for budgeted amounts and year-end balances. Next, in the review of the performance measures, board members were advised that some of the PEP report (required by the Louisiana Department of Education) contained inaccurate information about teacher years of experience, but Mr. Cooper noted that it appeared that all employees had been paid correctly. In closing discussion, board members requested that arrangements be made to deliver the audit reports for review, prior to the board meeting at which they will be formally presented. Board members discussed ways to offset continued cuts in the MFP funding, which comes from the state.
Next, Mr. Cooley announced that Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards had signed a proclamation declaring January to be “Louisiana School Board Member Recognition Month.” The Louisiana School Boards Association had also adopted a resolution to that effect, had both documents professionally framed and sent a set to each of Louisiana’s school boards. The framed documents were displayed for board members.
The next item on the agenda was to hear a recommendation from the Finance Committee. The motion was to establish a committee (Building and Grounds Committee chairperson, Marlin Ramsey, James Herrington, Cord Ensminger, and Tina Simmons) to develop a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for future architectural services, which will be presented to the board for approval. Upon voice vote, in the opinion of the chair, the “no” votes outnumbered the “yes” votes, and the motion failed.
The final agenda item was for board members to discuss the dates of the February meetings. Mr. Vidrine stated that the annual Louisiana School Boards Association convention was scheduled to take place February 9-11, 2017, which conflicts with the February 9 regular board meeting date. Upon motion of Kathy Bruner, seconded by Don Gray, board members voted to address all items as the business of the full board on Monday, February 6, 2016. Mr. Vidrine reminded board members that committees would be assigned at that time, so if any board members had an interest or concern to share, they were encouraged to call Mr. Vidrine.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned by general consent.