School Board employees to get extra check in February


By Carolyn Roy, News Editor

The best news at the school board meeting Thursday was that personnel will get a one-time MFP appropriation that was approved by the Legislature. Certified personnel will receive $583 and support staff will receive $300. The appropriations will total $317,285 for the 395 certified staff and 290 support staff. The checks will be distributed in February.

School Board Vice-President Steven Harris
Photo by Carolyn Roy

The board elected new officers that included president Billy Benefield Jr. and vice president Steven Harris. Benefield commended outgoing president Rhonda Guidroz for her role in working with a new board and presenting a new perspective of cooperation. “She kept us moving,” Benefield said. “We can see the good fruit of her work.”

The school board approved the job description that will be advertised in the search for a superintendent. Benefield said the job description included the qualifications suggested by the A+ Coalition obtained in a public survey, a citizens advisory group and input at a public forum. It includes numerous items such as someone who is a problem solver, can nurture a relationship with Northwestern State, has budget experience, has vision and communication skills and has experience raising scores in a low-performing school. Once the job description has been approved by the board’s attorney, it will be advertised state and area-wide.

The board authorized Finance Supervisor Richard Foshee to advertise for bids to demolish its building that once housed a pre-school center and the Head Start program. There were negotiations with Save the Children, a program that took over Head Start, to repair the roof. However, at the Thursday meeting, Foshee said the building is beyond repair and rain recently poured into the building. Save the Children would like to put a new building at the site if the school board will demolish the old one. There was talk that demolition costs will be far less than the insurance to cover the aging building. The school board paid about a $180,000 last year to demolish the former magnet school building on the Northwestern State campus.

Supt. Dale Skinner said the Cloutierville School building has been secured and most of the equipment has been moved out. Principals at other schools will be able to visit the school to see if there is remaining equipment that could be used at their schools such as desks and chairs.

The members agreed with board member Emile Metoyer that the fence could be repositioned in the parking lot to allow buses to uses it as a turn-around. Principals will have input into the school calendar for next year. Skinner said they will meet and be given guidelines for developing a calendar and that calendar will then be given to central office staff for finalization.

The board approved awarding a bid to Skip Converse Inc., for $1.5 million for work at Natchitoches Jr. High. Among the improvements will be work on the ball field and track, new restrooms and renovations to existing ones, LED lighting and new bleachers in the gym.

Voters in the Goldonna School District will get a chance to renew an existing tax since the board gave the approval for a special election. The proposition ups the millage to 12 mills for 10 years.

ECCO Ride transportation director Mike Babin told the board members about his plan to hire off-duty firemen and others who drive big vehicles to be relief drivers. Cameras have been installed in most buses as have radios.