The Cloutierville school donation to Fire District 1, a retirement plan for long term subs, stipends for staff and a possible whole warehouse generator for school food service made the school board committee meeting Tuesday night interesting.
In addition, Lakeview boys basketball team was recognized for their outstanding season, a virtual academy for the district was introduced, a board member contacted Supt. Grant Eloi to verbally resign since she is moving out of state and sales tax revenue for April had Finance Director Lee Waskom “giddy” with anticipation.
Plus, (yes there is more), another town hall meeting will be in Cloutierville May 1 at 6 p.m. at Grace Baptist Church and Weyerhaeuser Trus Joist general manager Jason Smith requested an Industrial Tax Exemption (ITEP) for their $16 million expansion.
Kristy Irchirl outlined the Natchitoches Virtual Academy (NVA) for grades six-12. There is an application process and a one semester minimum enrollment. The curriculum will be fully online. Students will be enrolled at their home based school for extracurricular and athletic opportunities. Irchirl said students wouldn’t be able to “flip-flop” between virtual and in-person classes and would be held accountable for their studies.
They will be required to take all state and/or district exams. NVA will also offer an accelerated learning program to those academically advanced students who qualify. It will offer an option of virtual and in-person classes. Eloi said the program was not in response to Covid, but as a result of Covid the need for alternative education opportunities was a priority.
In reference to the ITEP request, Smith said the Weyerhaeuser expansion would create 20 new jobs. “We have 210 associates and of those, 170 are from within Natchitoches Parish,” he said. He told the board the company has several other locations that make the same product and he hoped to see them spend the money for expansion here. Smith said the plant employs parents, grandparents and family members of students attending parish schools.
Board members stated Weyerhaeuser has made many donations to the school system over the years. The tax exemption would be an incentive for the company to fund the Natchitoches mill expansion. “What we are paying in taxes today will only go up,” Smith said. The vote to grant or deny the ITEP will come before the board for a vote at the June meeting.
Attorney Joe Stamey addressed the board about the donation of the former Cloutierville school. He said there would be a cooperative endeavor agreement as well as an Act of Donation. Any parties wishing to be housed in the location would execute a sublease. FD1 is reviewing their contract and a final draft will be available soon.
A MidAmerica representative pitched a retirement plan for part time employees and long term subs. The government sponsored plan would have a very small impact on Social Security retirement benefits.
The representative, attending via Zoom, said upon retirement age the person enrolled in the plan would have two revenue streams, one from them and one from SSI. Examples showed where contributions would lower the participant’s taxable income without drastically changing bring home pay.
One scenario depicted a variant of $1.75 less per pay period. Waskom said he would have a resolution for a vote to present Thursday, May 6. “It creates a savings for us,” he said.
Board member Katrina Willis of Dist. 5 notified Eloi of her intent to move out of state making her ineligible to remain a board member. Once her resignation is official, the board will appoint a replacement from her district following guidelines and timeframes set forth by the state.