LINCOLN PARISH SCHOOL BOARD
LINCOLN PARISH SCHOOL BOARD
Tuesday, January 4, 2011 6:00 p.m.
The Lincoln Parish School Board met in Regular Session on Tuesday, January 4, 2011, at 6:00 p.m. at the Lincoln Parish School Board, 410 South Farmerville Street, Ruston, Louisiana. Members present were President Otha Anders, Ms. Debbie Abrahm, Mr. Michael Barmore, Ms. Lisa Best, Mr. Curtis Dowling, Mr. Danny Hancock, Ms. Mattie Harrison (left before the meeting ended), Ms. Lynda Henderson, Mr. Trott Hunt, Mr. Eddie Jones, Mr. George Mack, and Mr. Joe Mitcham. No board member was absent. President Anders called the meeting to order and delivered the invocation. The ladies led in the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag. Board members were sworn in by Linda Cook, Clerk of Court for Lincoln Parish. She expressed appreciation for the opportunity to do so and offered her congratulations. Mr. Anders welcomed the two newly-elected board members, nine returning board members, staff, media, bond attorney, persons of special recognition, and other guests. Upon a motion by Ms. Henderson, seconded by Ms. Best, the Board unanimously voted by roll call to adopt the agenda as amended adding Adoption of Agenda as Amended and two items of New Business: Change order for New Tech @ Ruston project and Substantial completion for New Tech @ Ruston. Upon a motion by Mr. Barmore, seconded by Mr. Hunt, the Board unanimously voted to approve the minutes of the Regular Session held on December 7, 2010, as distributed. The Election of Officers for 2011 was the next item on the agenda. Mr. Anders turned the floor over to the secretary, Superintendent Danny Bell. Mr. Bell declared the floor open for nominations for President for 2011. Mr. Mack nominated Otha Anders. Hearing no further nominations for president, Mr. Bell declared that nominations were closed, and Mr. Anders was selected as president for 2011. Danny Bell asked for nominations for vice president for 2011. Mr. Jones nominated Joe Mitcham. Mr. Bell asked for further nominations. Hearing none, he declared that nominations were closed, and Mr. Mitcham was selected as vice president for 2011. Mr. Anders and Mr. Mitcham thanked the Board for the vote of confidence and pledged to do their best. Ruston High School senior, Christopher Taylor, was recognized and presented a plaque by Paula Pardue, Secondary Academic Coordinator, for being named a National Achievement Scholarship semi-finalist. National Merit Scholarship semi-finalists, Elizabeth Sawyer and Valerie Wheat, were also recognized and presented with plaques. Mrs. Pardue reminded the Board that the National Merit Ruston High seniors scored in the top 1% of students in the country who took the PSAT last fall. After all three of the students introduced their parents, Mr. Anders congratulated them for their hard work. Following a month of study, Mary Null, Director of Instruction, Personnel, and Special Programs, asked the Board to approve fourteen revisions and one addition to the policy manual. Upon a motion by Mr. Hunt, seconded by Mr. Jones, the Board unanimously voted to approve revisions to the following policies: School Superintendent Legal Status (ABD), Board Member Continuing Education (BBBC), School Board Ethics (BH), Superintendent Powers and Responsibilities (CEB), Employment of Superintendent (CED), Investments (DFL), Sale of Buildings and Land (DFN), Bids and Quotations (DJED), Building and Grounds Security (EBC), Employment of Personnel (GBD), Transfer (GBM), Alcohol, Tobacco, Drug and Substance Abuse Education Program (IDBB), Testing (II), and Student Alcohol and Drug Use (JCDAC), and the addition of Student Biometric Information (JGFHA). Action was taken at the November meeting to move forward with a bond election in the Ruston district to fund a New Tech addition for approximately $2,100,000 and a new agriculture building for approximately $1,200,000 at Ruston High. George Murphy, Business Manager, noted the administration had suggested extending for five years the current bond millage of 11.5 for the Ruston District. Foley Judell, bond counsel, was to prepare the necessary documents for the Board’s January meeting to go before the voters in April 2011 for a Ruston District millage extension. He communicated that the first resolution in the Board packets approves the capital improvements plan regarding the New Tech addition and the new agriculture building, and the second calls for an April 30, 2011, election. He asked Grant Schlueter, bond attorney, to elaborate. Mr. Schlueter said the two resolutions for consideration would affect the calling of an election on April 30, 2011, in the Ruston School District to authorize an extension through new 20-year general obligation bonds. He ran the schedules and determined that the district could generate approximately $3,415,000 with no projected increase in the current millage rate. He reiterated that the first resolution to be considered approved the Capital Improvements Plan that detailed the specific projects, a New Tech addition and a new agriculture building at Ruston High School, which would be financed with the bond issuance if approved by the voters on April 30, 2011. The second Resolution calls for the April 30, 2011, election. Upon a motion by Mr. Jones, seconded by Mr. Mitcham, the Board unanimously voted by roll call to approve the resolution approving the Capital Improvements Plan, designating purposes for which proceeds of a proposed bond issue will be budgeted, and other providing with respect thereto. Upon a motion by Mr. Jones, seconded by Ms. Best, the Board unanimously voted by roll call to approve the resolution ordering and calling a special election to be held in Ruston School District No. 1 of the Parish of Lincoln, State of Louisiana, to authorize the incurring of debt and issuance of bonds therein; making application to the State Bond Commission in connection therewith; and providing for other matters in connection therewith. Mr. Murphy had provided background information on the State Department’s Qualified School Construction Bonds, $10,000,000 of which was allocated for the Lincoln Parish School Board. The funds could be used to construct the Ruston High field house and might be used later for the New Tech addition and new agriculture building. Mr. Schlueter provided a summary of a resolution which permits submission to the Bond Commission, and if it makes sense to apply to a future project, including the one to be placed on the April 30 ballot, the school system could use the construction bonds to save taxpayers money. He and the administration recommended that the Board approve the resolution. Upon a motion by Mr. Mack, seconded by Mr. Hunt, the Board unanimously voted by roll call to adopt the resolution giving preliminary approval to the issuance of not to exceed $10,000,000 of revenue bonds (taxable QSCB), in one or more series, of the Parish School Board of the Parish of Lincoln, State of Louisiana, providing certain terms of said Bonds; making application to the State Bond Commission for the approval of said Bonds and providing for other matters in connection therewith. Formal approval was requested by Charles Owens, Director of Auxiliary Services, for a third change order adding $9,826.53 to the Choudrant Elementary School construction and renovation project. Four fixed, insulated glass windows would be added to the new school gymnasium.
Upon a motion by Mr. Mitcham, seconded by Ms. Abrahm, the Board unanimously voted to approve change order #3 adding $9,826.53 to the Choudrant Elementary School construction and renovation project of the Choudrant Schools’ Capital Improvements Program. In addition, formal approval was also requested by Mr. Owens for a change order yielding a credit balance for the New Tech @ Ruston project. Two ADDS of concrete and masonry repairs at $9,876.00 and a fume hood at $796.00 will need to be taken from the $12,000.00 contingency and hardware allowances, leaving a remaining $1,355.00 in unused project funds as a credit.
Upon a motion by Mr. Hunt, seconded by Mr. Barmore, the Board unanimously voted to approve change order #1 with a credit balance of $1,355.00 for the New Tech @ Ruston project. As time was nearing to conclude the New Tech @ Ruston addition, Charles Owens requested permission to execute Substantial Completion documents based on the recommendation of the architect after his preparation of the final punch list and other appropriate paperwork. Upon a motion by Mr. Dowling, seconded by Mr. Hunt, the Board unanimously voted to grant permission and authorize the superintendent, his staff, and the architect to execute the Substantial Completion documents for New Tech @ Ruston. Kay Bradford, Grant Writer, reported that HEALS, Health Enterprise to Assist Lincoln’s Students, is an initiative designed to provide medical services to indigent students in the parish. The project has been funded completely by the Sturgis Charitable Trust; however, funds from the Lincoln Health Foundation will also be used beginning in 10-11. She was honored to introduce Norman Hanes, CEO of the Foundation, who said the parish received $84,000 during the first year which was used to provide medical supplies to the nurses and dental care to the indigent students. Last year more than $184,950 was received for medical supplies, dental services to indigent students, and an additional nurse. An agreement was recently signed for $299,934 which will continue the nurse’s salary and dental care to indigent students as well as allow the hiring of another nurse and a psychologist/counselor during the 10-11 school year. Ms. Bradford and Mr. Hanes are pleased to have the opportunity to work together to improve the health and lives of the students in Lincoln Parish. Because of the alarming increases in childhood obesity compiled with more diagnoses of juvenile diabetes and other childhood health issues and her belief that healthy choices should be the norm with the food offered to children eating in school cafeterias, Doris Marzett, Child Nutrition Program Supervisor, began examining the menus shortly following her employment. As a result, she has found ways to reduce fat and calorie content and increase fiber and vitamin content of the school meals. Ms. Marzett is working with the Louisiana Tech faculty to bring in new recipes for student test groups to sample. She noted that a Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which was recently by President Obama, will likely require school districts to provide healthier meal choices. In a Power Point presentation, she highlighted some of the changes, processes, and challenges in providing better and healthier meals for the children that eat in the school cafeterias. A recent decision was reached in Baton Rouge relative to school accountability and the assigning of letter grades in lieu of stars for performance based on school scores, according to Danny Bell. This new method of labeling will be effective with this year’s test scores and will be revealed next fall by the Louisiana Department of Education. Part I of his presentation reviewed the initial legislation, the process, the decision, and the potential impact of this recently-approved BESE action. Part II of his presentation covered the legislation and current status of developing a state-wide uniform grading scale for the schools that would be in effect for the 11-12 academic year. Ms. Harrison left the meeting during Mr. Bell’s report.
A brief period of discussion followed his presentation. George Murphy called attention to figures on the December 2010 sales tax report and noted that $926,037 was collected. This was a 1.33% increase compared to the same month last year, and a 6.10% increase year-to-date. He noted that while collections will total more than last year’s, they will not reach the amounts received two and three years ago. Recoveries through audits were $58,985 which was up 60.17% for the month, but down 5.46% year-to-date. Collected in the ‘67 and ‘79 fund was $420,926; $505,111 was generated in the ‘93 and ‘00 fund. Moving on to the October and November 2010 financial statements, he said he would summarize the November statement. The general fund was up $1.4 million. The five-mill maintenance fund was down $893,000 in addition to the other five ad valorem funds because the large check has not been received from the sheriff’s office. The child nutrition fund is down slightly year-to-date. A couple of sales tax funds were down, but the others were up which was as expected and budgeted.
Mr. Murphy reported that the health care fund through the month of October 2010 was down $90,407, but year-to-date was up $262,334. For ten months of the year, the fund was still in the black. His next report was entitled Health Insurance Information. This was very critical Mr. Murphy said, and he might be bringing it back to the Board in the next few months. He is unsure how the new federal health care law will affect the funds. He does know that the TPA, Covenant/Benesys, has recommended that the rates be raised. The administration has decided at this time not to recommend an increase to the Board; however, Mr. Murphy wanted to voice that they may have to increase employees’ insurance rates in the future. Superintendent Bell gave a brief overview of ongoing construction projects. They are looking at mid-April to mid-May for occupancy of the new wing at Choudrant Elementary. Renovation of the existing buildings would begin at that point. Mann Construction should begin with Phase 1, new construction, at Choudrant High in the next few weeks and also start work in the main building. He noted that the architect on the two projects, Greg Wallace, was in attendance in order to answer any questions. Occupancy of New Tech @ Ruston was scheduled for tomorrow. The Early Childhood Center’s playground was shaping up nicely, and most of the items on their punch list have been completed. Charles Owens said once the new construction was occupied at Choudrant Elementary they would be able to remove some of the 18 portable buildings which was a goal at the start of the project. All of the primary playground apparatus at the Early Childhood Center has been put up, but in an effort to salvage some of the equipment from Lincoln Center, some of the special clamps that hold the equipment together were broken. They have been ordered and should arrive at any time. The Board served as a Committee of the Whole, and the following Personnel Committee agenda items were considered after being presented by Mary Null:
1. Resignation of Jeffie Martin, bus driver in the Ruston District, effective December 7, 2010. Employment of bus driver in the Ruston district, Janice Blocker, effective January 3, 2011, replacing Chris Hurt who resigned. Upon a motion by Mr. Mitcham, seconded by Mr. Jones, the Board unanimously voted to accept the personnel recommendations as presented. In a Report of the Superintendent, Mr. Bell said:
1.That formal approval of district-wide SACS accreditation has been received. They have given the parish a strong letter of support based on the information submitted and their visit to Lincoln Parish. At a later time, information will be shared relative to their commendations and recommendations. He is very appreciative of the staff and schools for everything that was done for district-wide accreditation through SACS. He wanted to remind board members that at 5:45 p.m., prior to the February 1, 2011, board meeting pictures have been scheduled. If anyone was going to be absent, he asked that they let Becky Gemelli or him know so they can be rescheduled. A January newsletter was included in portfolios giving information about last year’s accomplishments and highlights. They were mailed to businesses, citizens, and other districts in the state. Comments or suggestions for improvement would be welcomed. Board members should give their Committee Preference forms to Ms. Gemelli before leaving. With no other business to come before the Board, the meeting adjourned at 7:58 p.m. on a motion by Ms. Best.
Danny Bell, Secretary Otha Anders, President
1td:February 4, 2011