MINUTES

 

POINTE COUPEE PARISH SCHOOL BOARD

SPECIAL MEETING

 

Thursday, May 21, 2009

 

The Pointe Coupee Parish School Board met in a special session on Thursday, May 21, 2009, at the School Board Office, 337 Napoleon Street New Roads, Louisiana.  President James M. Cline called the meeting to order at 7:15 p.m.

 

Board members present were Messrs. Chad Aguillard, Frank Aguillard, Brandon Bergeron, James M. Cline, Debbie Collins, Kevin Hotard, Anita LeJeune, and Thomas Nelson

 

Brandon Bergeron led the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America.

 

Mrs. Debbie Collins offered the invocation.

 

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Action Regarding the Superintendent Selection Process.  President Cline welcomed everyone to the meeting and announced that he had an opening statement to make before moving onto the agenda.  Mr. Cline's announcement was as follows: If you are not aware of it, this Board has been hit with seven storms in the last year (1) The takeover of Pointe Coupee Central High School; (2) Hurricane Gustav; (3) Hurricane Rita; (4) Superintendent Pastorek's attack on the Louisiana School Boards Association; (5) Dr. Rawls' Retirement; (6) The immediate recruitment of Mr. Lucia to serve as Interim Superintendent; and (7) a  tax renewal election.  He further stated that on top of the aforementioned, the Board had to continue running a school system. President Cline mentioned that having said all of this, he announced that the past month, and especially the past two days had been the most gratifying time that he has spent as being a Pointe Coupee Parish School Board member. First he mentioned the 84% parish wide approval of the tax renewal.  Secondly he referenced the ole ball coach, Steve Spurrier, who was once quoted after taking over a floundering Florida football program that began beating other teams by forty points and was not liked by many people as Mr. Spurrier said, "Call me arrogant, cocky, crybaby, whiner, Da Little One, or whatever names you like, at least they are not calling us losers anymore"!  So, the next time the press or special interest groups refer to the Pointe Coupee Parish School System, they cannot state that they are one of the worst school systems in the state anymore!  Mr. Cline announced that he would like to thank and congratulate all faculties, staff, administration and especially the students for the outstanding performance and mentioned that this is why we are all here!  In closing he stated that he wanted to take this time and he mentioned that he did not care who likes it or who doesn't, but he thanked every School Board Member around the table and the ones who have served before who had also helped to get the system to this point.  Mr. Cline remarked that he had spoken to State Superintendent Pastorek at the Capitol on Tuesday, May 19, 2009, and if the scores would have gone down who would have gotten that credit, so you all should get some of the credit as well.  Mr. Cline congratulated Mr. Thomas Nelson and Mr. Frank Aguillard, as they are the two School Board members that have served the longest and have endured the most pain and suffering that goes along with the job.  He challenged everyone to keep moving forward and asked everyone to join him in applause for the school system.  Mr. Cline stated that he knew that this Board will do whatever it takes to select a new leader that will take the system to the next level, but because of all of the above mentioned storms, that he is not sure that all of the "T"'s are crossed, or the "I"s dotted.  He also mentioned that the most important decision that the Board can make as School Board members is the selection of a Superintendent, and stated that at this point, the Board could not afford to make a mistake. He mentioned that he was not just speaking about himself as a School Board member, but that he was also speaking as a parent; he happily smiled and announced that his 8th grade child and his 4th grade child had aced the LEAP tests this year.  After once again alluding to the storms that the system had endured, he mentioned that the Board had never sat down and discussed what characteristics the Board wanted with regard to the selection of next Superintendent (i.e., the interview process - does the Board want finalists, or do they want to narrow down the list of applicants, etc.).  Mr. Cline further stated that to be perfectly honest with everyone, he was not real confident in moving forward at this particularly time until all of these questions are answered and then requested input.  

Personnel Director Cynthia M. O'Meara had met and discussed the superintendent search process with Attorney Hammonds.  Mr. Hammonds informed Ms. O'Meara that his firm was currently involved in a number of school board searches for superintendents and at her request provided a proposed listing of procedures which they would recommend for consideration in connection with the search for the Superintendent of Pointe Coupee Parish.  It was stated that the Board members were provided with information regarding the eleven (11) applicants.  A discussion followed.  Mr. Kevin Hotard stated that given the fact that Mr. Lucia is currently serving as the Interim Superintendent, test scores have increased, the tax renewal has passed, West Feliciana is seeking a Superintendent, that it may be in the best interest of the school system if the Board would slow the "ship" down and consider extending the application deadline to try to obtain more applicants in addition to the eleven that will remain in the "hopper."  Board member Thomas Nelson mentioned that he is pleased with the job that Mr. Lucia is doing, but does not know how long Mr. Lucia is willing to prolong his position as Interim Superintendent.  Mr. Nelson stated that he does not know what good re-advertisement for the position would do, as other systems are also looking.  Board member Nelson further stated that the current applicants went through the process, thinks that the Board should respect those applicants that met the deadline, and come to a consensus.  Mr. Cline stated that the position of Superintendent is the only time that the Board should get involved in personnel issues.  Board members took a few minutes to review the suggested proposed procedures that had provided by Mr. Hammonds.  It was mentioned that unless there is a sensitive issue deemed necessary to be heard in a private closed session, the community and the parish would like the School Board to be transparent about the selection process; therefore, each candidate should receive the same questions to answer.  Mrs. Debbie Collins stated that the selection of the Superintendent of Schools is one of the most important decisions that the Board will make and that a critical step by step plan is needed.  She also stated that she would like to set goals and establish criteria for selecting the next Superintendent of the Pointe Coupee Parish School Board.  Mrs. Collins alluded that in addition to meeting the qualifications from the State, some type of prerequisite should be required that will meet the needs of the children and the district (i.e., good community involvement, commitment to work with staff, etc.)  Mr. Frank Aguillard stated that he has been through the process many times in twenty-four years and that Mr. Lucia was the first Superintendent that he had voted to hire.  Board member Aguillard mentioned that perhaps the public could have their questions answered by submitting a card prior to the onset of the interview process. He further stated that should a motion be made to extend the application process that he will concur with that decision.  Board member Chad Aguillard referred to the correspondence from Attorney Hammonds.  He questioned how many persons had applied from the state of Louisiana and from out of state.  Ms. O'Meara announced that eight applicants were from Louisiana and three were from out of state and that, according to teacher certification, only one applicant has been in contact and has received information from the Louisiana State Department of Education.  Mr. Brandon Bergeron announced that he, too, is in favor of extending the application process should the Board come to this consensus.  Board member Bergeron stated that he also agreed with Mr. Hotard's suggestion to include the positive aspects (increased test scores, recent tax renewal, early childhood educational programs, etc.) of the district when advertising for the vacant position of Superintendent of Schools for Pointe Coupee Parish, as these added characteristics about the school system may change the perception of what some potential applicants may have previously thought.  Mrs. Anita LeJeune, alluded to the fact that she has served on a lot of panel interviews with the Arts Council.  Mrs. LeJeune stated that identification qualities of the position could be broken down to include questions regarding quality procedure standards provided by each School Board member and commented that  hiring a new Superintendent to lead the parish will be one of the most important decisions that she as a Board member will have to make.  It was mentioned that more than thirty days was allowed for the current application process.  A suggestion was offered to try to obtain a criteria check list from the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board, as they just recently hired a new Superintendent to take the place of their retiring Superintendent, Charlotte Placide. It was also mentioned that for accountability purposes, the Superintendent's contract could include performance objectives.  Mr. Lucia stated that he had worked with the Superintendent's Association for eight years and almost every year, there are Superintendent searches due to retirements, etc. He mentioned that he had been in conversations with the current Superintendent of the Nachiotches Parish School Board that will be retiring and was informed that their Board plans to extend their application search.  It was stated that the list that Mr. Hammonds sent can be refined, whereas the process needs to move toward a "good fit" with regard to the Superintendent and the school system.  Mr. Nelson stated that he does not want to place a burden on Mr. Lucia, as he has been gracious to have agreed to be the Interim Superintendent until a permanent one is hired.  Ms. O'Meara stated that it costs approximately $500.00 to place an advertisement in the Advocate and this is a general fund expense.  Suggestions were made to include the positive attributes of the school system prior to advertisement in the Advocate, on the website, as well as with LSBA, LAE, LASE and LASS.  President Cline questioned the date of the June Executive Committee Meeting, and was informed that it will be on Thursday, June 18, 2009.

 

Mr. Kevin Hotard offered the motion to extend the Pointe Coupee Parish Superintendent application process until 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 18, 2009.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Brandon Bergeron.  Mr. Thomas Nelson having requested a roll call, the vote thereon resulted in the following:

 

 

YEAS:               Frank R. Aguillard, Brandon Bergeron, James Cline, Kevin Hotard and Anita LeJeune

NAYS:              Chad Aguillard, Debbie Collins, and Thomas Nelson

ABSENT:          None

 

The motion passed by a 5-3-0 vote of the Board.

 

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Adjournment.  On a motion by Mr. Thomas Nelson, seconded by Mr. Kevin Hotard, the meeting adjourned at 8:10 p.m.

 

POINTE COUPEE PARISH SCHOOL BOARD     

                                                         

James M. Cline, President

                                                         

Michael J. Lucia, Interim Superintendent