The Beauregard Parish School Board met in regular session Thursday, September 14, 2017, at 6:00 pm in the Central Office Board Room. David Vidrine, Darrin Manuel, Kathy Bruner, L. D. Spears, Cassie Henry, Wesley Taylor, Martha Jackson, and Timothy Hudson were present. Don Gray, Ray Bowman, and Student Representative Tabitha Deer were absent.
Timothy J. Cooley, Superintendent, was present and acted as secretary.
The Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance were led by Stephanne Spikes.
After confirming that all board members had received an agenda, David Vidrine asked all board members to look over it, stating that if there were no discussion, he would accept a motion to adopt the agenda. Hearing none, upon motion of Kathy Bruner, seconded by Cassie Henry, board members voted to adopt the agenda as presented.
Next, board members considered adopting the minutes of the August 10, 2017, regular meeting of the Beauregard Parish School Board, as published in the official journal. David Vidrine stated that he would accept a motion to adopt the minutes of the August 10, 2017, regular meeting of the Beauregard Parish School Board, as published in the official journal. Hearing no discussion, upon motion of Wesley Taylor, seconded by Timothy Hudson, board members voted in favor of adopting the minutes of the August 10, 2017, regular meeting, as published in the official journal, by a margin of 7-0, with Kathy Bruner stating that she wished to abstain.
The Superintendent’s Report began with a report on the impact of Hurricane Harvey on the parish schools. Mr. Cooley commended everyone on their response to the multi-day closures and noted that there was an agenda item coming up, which should help mitigate the further loss of instructional time, should another weather-related closure take place.
Board members were advised that the Beauregard Parish Fair would take place October 3-7, 2017, with Friday, October 6, being designated as Fair Day. Mr. Cooley reminded board members that students will be out of class on that date.
According to Mr. Cooley, night classes are ongoing with ABC (Associated Builders and Contractors), including welding classes at Singer High School and DeRidder High School, and an Electrical Class at East Beauregard High School. Mr. Cooley noted that student numbers fell short this fall for another Electrical Class, but that it was hoped that the numbers would allow for adding one this spring, and also maybe another Pipefitting Class.
Mr. Cooley advised board members that student numbers for the beginning of this year were hovering right around 6000, including early intervention through grade 12. Board members learned that for the same period of time last school year, student numbers appeared to show an increase of about 30 students, and were reminded that the official student count would be based on student numbers as of October 2.
Board members were reminded that Monday, September 18, 2017, would be the last Trailblazer workshop to be offered by LSBA. Board members who attend will receive the 6 hours of training, including the 1 hour of ethics instruction, which is required annually. Board members were asked to let Ms. Archer know if they wished to attend.
Before moving to the next agenda item, Mr. Vidrine paused to commend Superintendent Cooley, Transportation Director Cord Ensminger, and other administrators for the way Hurricane Harvey was handled, noting that as always, the safety of the students came first.
Next, board members recognized the Beauregard Parish Teachers of the Year. Cord Ensminger explained that these teachers had been selected in January, per state guidelines, for the 2017-2018 school year. The Beauregard Parish Elementary Teacher of the Year was Deanna McGregor (who was unable to attend the meeting) of Merryville High School; the Beauregard Parish Middle School Teacher of the Year was
Alayna Jones of South Beauregard Upper Elementary, who was presented by Assistant Principal Rebecca Hollie; and the Beauregard Parish High School Teacher of the Year was Scotti Vige’ of DeRidder High School, who was recognized by Assistant Principal Shawn Baggett. Each of the honorees was presented a plaque in recognition.
The next agenda item was to honor the Beauregard Parish Principals of the Year. Cord Ensminger announced that the Beauregard Parish Principals of the Year were Barbara Newman, Beauregard Parish Elementary Principal of the Year; Theresa Harlow, Beauregard Parish Middle School Principal of the Year; and Larry Hollie, Beauregard Parish High School Principal of the Year. Superintendent Cooley summarized highlights of each principal’s career and listed several of their accomplishments.
Board members next considered revision of the 4-day and 5-day school calendars for 2017-2018, and heard about a proposal to offset some of the instructional time missed due to Hurricane Harvey. According to Mr. Cooley, Mr. Ensminger had suggested making January 12 (originally a non-student conference day) a day where students would attend, in order to recoup some of the minutes missed. Mr. Cooley advised board members that there were some schools that were just a few minutes short, but that making the suggested revision on the calendar would allow just a bit of breathing room, should additional unplanned closures occur later in the year. Board members expressed concern about the loss of a conference day and were assured that conferences would still take place on an as-needed basis. Upon motion of Darrin Manuel, seconded by Wesley Taylor, board members approved revision of the 4-day and 5-day school calendars for 2017-2018.
Next, board members were asked to consider a change in a job description in the support personnel manual. James Herrington spoke to board members about adding an option for a school office staff person. This proposed option, a 9-month/5-hours per day clerk typist, according to Mr. Herrington, would perform the same duties as a 10-month/7-hours per day clerk-typist, and would simply allow for greater hiring flexibility. . This is expected to streamline operations, add flexibility, and would be beneficial in the budget area. Upon motion of Darrin Manuel, seconded by Cassie Henry, board members voted to approve a change in the support personnel job descriptions.
The final item on the agenda was for the board to consider going into Executive Session under Louisiana Revised Statute 42:17, to discuss pending sales tax findings, and written demand for payment and potential settlement, thereof. Mr. Vidrine reminded board members that last month the board voted to go into Executive Session to discuss the repayment of taxes overpaid by PCA (Packaging Corporation of America), formerly Boise Cascade, but no motion came out of that Executive Session. Mr. Vidrine advised board members that the board’s legal counsel, District Attorney Jimmy Lestage, had received a repayment proposal from PCA/Boise. Mr. Lestage stated that the board could hear the details and recommendation in open meeting or could choose to go into Executive Session to discuss the proposal, and come out to go back on the record to vote on it. Upon motion of Darrin Manuel, seconded by Wesley Taylor, board members voted to hear from Mr. Lestage in open meeting. Mr. Lestage continued, briefly reviewing the history of the overpayment issue, noting that the demand from PCA/Boise encompassed the period of time from 2011, up to and including April 30, 2015, and that after repayment, those years would be closed to further review. May 1, 2015, and forward, has not been reviewed at this time, and Mr. Lestage stated that it was possible that as these years were examined, some of the same issues might be found. Board members learned that the issue involved the taxes being paid on the raw materials used to manufacture their products and then taxes being assessed on the finished products, as well. According to Mr. Lestage, PCA/Boise acknowledged their responsibility and stated that it would work on preventing this type of error in the future.
Mr. Lestage answered questions from board members and stated that his recommendation would be to accept the interest-deferred 18-month plan, which will allow PCA/Boise to recoup their $644,881.10 overpayment in a series of credits on taxes owed, totaling $35,826.73 (roughly half of their monthly tax liability) per month, for 18 months. Board members learned that the Beauregard Parish Police Jury had accepted this payment plan and Mr. Lestage urged the school board to follow suit. There was additional discussion of what impact this “offset” repayment might have on the budget in general and employee sales tax supplement checks in particular, and Mr. Vidrine suggested that a budget meeting might need to be held to further discuss the repercussions in detail. Wesley Taylor offered a motion to accept the interest-deferred 18-month plan, which will allow Boise Newsprint, LLC, and Packaging Corporation of America to recoup their $644,881.10 overpayment in a series of credits on taxes owed, totaling $35,826.73 (roughly half of their monthly tax liability) per month, for 18 months. Kathy Bruner seconded the motion, which was approved upon voting.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.