The school board adopted the selection process it will use to choose a new superintendent during its meeting Thursday. While there is no definite date for the selection, it will be some time around March 3.
The schedule is as follows:
•Feb. 10: President Billy Benefield and Vice President Steve Harris will get applications from a designated post office box and return them to the school board office to Robert Hammonds and Deborah Gamble who will vet the applications for qualifications. Hammonds is the board attorney and Gamble is an educator from DeSoto Parish.
•Feb. 10: Board members will get applications from the school board office after 4 p.m. Names of applicants are confidential.
•Feb. 11: Applications will be available for public viewing after confidential information is removed.
•Feb. 13: Special called meeting to vote on the number of applicants to be interviewed, date of interviews, who will be interviewed, order of interviews, tie-breaker process and how many levels and rounds of interviews there will be.
•Feb. 19: Interviews – open to the public.
•Feb. 20: At conclusion of interviews, the board will determine the number of finalists, select the finalists, decide the order of their interviews, consider tie-breaker process and reference checks.
•March 3: After the regular committee meeting at 5 p.m., there will be a special called meeting at 6:15 p.m. for the board to set final interviews and the interview process. The board may convene into executive session if necessary. Each board member will submit two interview questions to board member Rhonda Guidroz who will review them to eliminate duplicates. The public can submit questions to Guidroz for consideration. After Benefield read the schedule, he asked board member Beverly Broadway to share her ideas that focus on what the board members would like to see in the contract.
•General review and update of past contracts
•Specific performance goals
•Retention of teachers
•Membership in civic organizations to promote their visibility
•Regular visits to schools
•Visibility in rural schools
•Positive events for the system
•Seek input from principals on decision making
•Promote minorities in the district
•Promote relations with Northwestern State
Dorothy McGaskey suggested inserting mandatory diversity training for new teachers There was a lengthy discussion at the committee meeting Tuesday about the proposed school calendar for next year. While the calendar submitted by the principals includes a week off in October and in February, it calls for support workers to report July 20, two days earlier than principals. Russ Danzy and Emile Metoyer were opposed and said it needed more discussion even though principals are on call. Metoyer suggested cutting the days in October or February to make up those two days.
It would affect support staff such as counselors, custodians and secretaries. Benefield submitted a second calendar at the meeting Thursday giving support personnel seven full weeks before returning to school in August. The change would cut the fall break in October to three days instead of five.
Reba Phelps objected to the second calendar saying the first calendar was submitted by the principals at the request of the board. She said the purpose of having five days off in October was to help retain teachers. Principals Sandy Irchirl and Caron Coleman spoke in favor of the original calendar that was compiled after much input from principals and teachers. The first calendar was accepted by a seven to three vote. McGaskey mentioned turnover at the junior high and said five teachers left because of behavioral issues. She believes new teachers need diversity training that could be provided by the La. Association of Educators. The board will get a quote on the cost of such training.
ECCO Ride Transportation Director Michael Babin told the board he has initiated “Ride with Heroes” to attempt to hire firefighters to be reserve drivers on their time off. Board members began receiving calls from parents Tuesday after a person driving a car backed into a school bus. Babin said he reviewed the video of the incident that revealed the car backed into the bus even though the bus driver was blowing the horn. Only the car bumper was damaged. Babin said he contacted the school board and classified it as an “incident” after law enforcement declared there were no injuries.
The school sent out a “blast” notifying parents the students would be late for school. Babin said it was an incident, as opposed to an accident, that has injuries on the scene, again determined by law enforcement. Parents are notified if there are injuries. Benefield said some parents were mad because they had not heard about the incident and got second-hand information. The board members said Thursday that if parents were notified of an incident, they should be told the nature of the incident.
Benefield complimented Babin because transportation complaints “have gone to nothing” since Babin took over. Supervisor of Finance Richard Foshee said he is getting quotes from an exterminator for the bat problem at Natchitoches Central.