School board anticipates much larger summer school enrollment

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Carolyn Roy | News Editor
Supt. of Schools Dr. Grant Eloi was a gold mine of information when he gave his report to the school board at its committee meeting Tuesday.
COVID-19 continues to wane since only one student and one staff, or just .0001 percent of the school population, have had the malady during the last five weeks. In the sixth week, there have been no cases reported.
Summer school will be much larger this year with an anticipated enrollment of about 1,400 students at seven sites. Those sites are LP Vaughn, Weaver, Natchitoches Jr. High, Natchitoches Central, Provencal, Fairview Alpha and Lakeview. There will be more students since 10 schools are classified as struggling according to State guidelines.
The two pathways at summer school include traditional for attention to grades and enrichment for those wanting to recover learning lost during COVID-19. Letters will be sent to parents. Buses will run and lunch will be served.
Graduation dates are set with the NPTCC ceremony May 18, Natchitoches Central May 20 and Lakeview May 12.
Natchitoches Central sent 16 students to the State Literary Rally with four placing first in their categories.
Miscellaneous dates include April 30, election day for the 1 cent sales tax renewal; April 10, teacher job fair at the Natchitoches Events Center from 9 a.m.-noon; April 22, Advisory Council signup for interested community members; and Pre-K registration is underway online at teachingtomorrow.com or at schools.

This article published in the April 16, 2022, print edition

Director of Personnel Linda Page was appreciative to the board members for their support of programs to reduce the number of long-term substitutes. There are only 27 who are not credentialed and that is down from 87, just this year. “Thank you for your support,” Page told the board. Board member Billy Benefield reminded the board that the number of non-certified teachers was once at 104. The school board has offered several incentives, some with Northwestern State, to encourage the substitutes to get certified.
In response to Benefield’s interest in a job fair for seniors, Eloi said he is already exploring a similar one in Rapides Parish.
Eloi and several board members commended Felicia Washington, supervisor for transportation provider ECCO Ride. Eloi said, “Ms. Washington gets it done.” She changed bus routes to accommodate 50 students attending the Boys and Girls Club after school.
While the number of drivers is down by three, Washington said other drivers were covering the routes with no delay for students.
Director of Finance Lee Waskom said the accounting department will soon solve the problems that have prevented distribution of COVID-19 compensation checks. The distribution requires some 800 entries that have been hampered by software problems. Part of the problem involves an outside vendor.
Shawna Hicks, child nutrition district manager, said the average daily number of students eating lunch is 3,700 and for breakfast, 1,850. Hicks was approved for travel to the University of Mississippi in the summer where she will attend a workshop for food service managers, at no cost to the board. Hicks received a scholarship that will pay her expenses.
Maintenance Supervisor Ryan Shirley said construction at Natchitoches Central is “moving along”; a punch list will be worked this week at East Natchitoches; the Weaver project is closing down; and subcontractors are finishing at LP Vaughn and Natchitoches Magnet. The new work order system he implemented is working well and lawn care is an everyday task.
School board member Emile Metoyer was concerned about the disposition of a metal utility building on the Cloutierville School campus that was given away. Metoyer wants to know who authorized the action. He said a new building of that type could cost between $100,000 and $150,000 and a used one between $20,000 and $75,000. “Someone gave away the building and we need to find out,” Metoyer said. “Nothing has been done about it. Why did we give it away?”
There was talk of other items missing from the site and it is believed it was reported to the Sheriff’s office. Metoyer asked for an update and response to who authorized the building to be removed. At the regular meeting Thursday, Waskom said the Sheriff’s office has begun an investigation to the thefts and assigned a detective.
Waskom sent out RFPs requesting prices for demolishing the buildings. Those RFPs will be opened later this month. The board must then decide if it wants to proceed with demolition or consider requests from other entities that might want the property.