Long way to go before new high school a reality

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At the school board meeting Thursday, Supt. Dr. Grant Eloi was adamant that there are no final plans for building a new high school because there are “a million details” to be worked out. He was particularly concerned about a map on social media, not in the Natchitoches Times, showing the location to be on Water Well Road on school board property.

While that location is a possibility, there is no selected site and there could be numerous others to be considered. “We want to be sure everyone is good with consolidation,” he said. The process will take multiple steps and votes and he wants to ensure that all districts have equity. The town hall meetings will be a chance for the public to express their views. He will meet with smaller groups that want to discuss the potential new high school.

This article published in the Weekend, April 10-11, 2021, print edition

In other business, Eloi and the school board continue their mission to improve instructional pay. The board voted to adopt his recommendation for increases in summer school and substitute teacher pay. Summer school pay will increase from $20 to $35 an hour for this year only. Stipend pay will increase from $20 to $25 an hour. Eloi polled other parishes and this increase will take Natchitoches Parish to the average.

The daily substitute pay will increase from $50/day minimum to $60 and the maximum increase from $75 to $90. This is for daily substitutes and not long-term subs.

At the committee meeting Tuesday, Finance Director Lee Waskom spoke at length about the need for grant writers and a grant administrator. He expects FEMA to pay school board claims of about $1.4 million but that could go as high as $4 million. FEMA includes 5 percent of its reimbursement for an administrator that will more than pay the salary. Waskom was seeking permanent position for a grant administrator at an annual salary of $32,000.

The board approved the new position as well as a job description for grant writers. While the finance director had both jobs in the past, Waskom said Hurricane Laura and two snow storms created an enormous amount of work such as requiring photos of damage, inspections and GPS locations of trees before and after they fell.

He also cited FEMA’s request for pictures of spoiled food thrown into dumpsters when electricity failed at schools during Hurricane Laura.

There will be a delay in the donation of the Cloutierville school to Fire District #1. The board was prepared to adopt a resolution for the donation but board attorney Joe Stamey said the fire district needs more time. The fire district board will meet April 13 to consider its own resolution and the school board will consider the donation again at the May meeting. Board member Emile Metoyer asked that the resolution state that school buses will still be able to turn around at the school.