MINUTES

 

POINTE COUPEE PARISH SCHOOL BOARD

337 Napoleon Street

New Roads, LA 70760

 

SPECIAL MEETING

Thursday, January 7, 2010

 

The Pointe Coupee Parish School Board met in a special session on Thursday, January 7, 2010, at 337 Napoleon Street, New Roads, LA.  Mr. Chad Aguillard, President, called the meeting to order at 5:30 p.m.    

 

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

 

Mr. Frank Aguillard lead the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America.

 

Mrs. Debbie Collins offered the invocation.

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Discussion/Action Regarding Race to the Top.  Superintendent D'Amico stated that she and her staff have looked at the Race to the Top Grant to fit the Pointe Coupee Parish School Board.  Mrs. D'Amico announced that Mr. Robert L. Hammonds, Attorney with Hammonds & Sills, was requested to attend the meeting to report what was discussed, during a conference call regarding Race to the Top (RTTT), with Mr. Mike Resnick of the National School Board Association (NSBA).

 

Attorney Hamonds reported that he had participated in the National School Board Association (NSBA) Race to the Top Audio Conference which took place from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 5, 2010.  Mr. Mike Resnick of the NSBA staff did a good job of explaining the requirements of the U.S. Department of Education for the program and how state applications will be scored.  Information presented during the conference and the question and answer session at the end included the following:

 

1.         Mr. Resnick felt that "the long-term picture of where the U.S. Department of Education is going" is reflected in the staffing and programmatic changes being discussed in connection with RTTT.  He thinks that similar changes will be found in the ESEA program (which includes your Title I and other Title monies) when it is next re-authorized. Stated differently, he feels that, with or without RTTT, these changes are coming and school systems need to be prepared for them.

 

2.         The School Improvement Grant (SIG) program is a separate fund of $3.5B that can also be accessed by states and LEAs for school intervention requirements similar to those in RTTT, but other RTTT program activities are not required.

 

3.         State application deadlines are January 19, 2010 (awards spring 2010) and June 1, 2010 (awards by September 30, 2010).  There is no need, therefore, for the extremely short window given by the SDE to decide on participation (January 11, 2010).  Resnick explained that states whose applications are denied in the spring can re-apply in the summer.  Maybe this is why the SDE is trying so hard to get its application in by 1/19/10.

 

4.         Local Education Agencies (LEAs) can decide to participate up to 90 days AFTER the state's application has been approved.  In response to a question, though, he indicated that there was nothing in the federal regs that addressed the issue of whether a state could establish a rule that LEAs must agree to participate by a certain date or be excluded from the program.

 

5.         One of the four School Intervention Models is the "Turnaround Model".  That model requires, in part, that "new governance" be implemented.  Resnick mentioned that United States Department of Education (USDOE) has agreed that this can be done through "turnaround offices" rather than directly at the school level. These "turnaround offices" would be administrative personnel working under the supervision of the superintendent to help operate the schools utilizing this intervention model.

 

6.         It is not clear how many states will win awards, so it is not possible to calculate with any degree of precision the amount of money that might be forthcoming to Louisiana if its application were approved. He estimated, however, that a state of our size could probably expect to receive $60-175M.

 

7.         The federal regs have a sample Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) for participating districts, but states are free to come up with their own (which the State Department of Education has).

 

8.         There are many parts of this program that are "works in progress".  He said repeatedly that school systems wanting to participate would be "buying a pig in a poke" because many of the requirements for the program (both federal and state) have yet to be determined.  He said a lot of confidence would have to be put in the state's superintendent.  [Note:  In response to a question from a Louisiana lawyer, Mr. Resnick said that he was familiar with our state superintendent and "his politics".].

 

Superintendent D'Amico stated that the program fits our district (10 questions)

 

 

Mrs. D'Amico reiterated that the ESEA Reauthorization Act and RTTT goals are predicted to be very similar.  She mentioned that the Pointe Coupee Parish School Board may inevitably be faced with changes due to re-authorization of the ESEA program (Title I and other Title "monies").  Mrs. D'Amico announced that the school system needs to be prepared for the changes in programs and staffing that will be brought about by re-authorization.  She stated that she is of the opinion that the RTTT grant would help to fund the implementation of educational programs and staffing needs to move the system forward.  Superintendent D'Amico introduced Mr. Donald Trahan, a representative of the Louisiana State Department of Education who was invited to attend the special School Board meeting to answer questions about RTTT.  President Chad Aguillard requested that Mr. Trahan approach the podium.

 

Mr. Trahan stated that he had worked at Livonia High School as a teacher and the Athletic Director in the eighties, and that his wife grew up in the parish of Pointe Coupee.  He also stated that he was on the House Education Committee when he was a State Representative.  He mentioned that Pointe Coupee Parish has high numbers of at risk children.  Mr. Trahan stated that some school districts need the reform more than others.  Although participation is optional, he stated that he wished that the Pointe Coupee Parish School Board would consider entering into the Louisiana Race to the Top Partnership agreement with the State Department of Education, without the opt out clause, as this could potentially damage the whole application process.

 

Board member Nelson requested that Mr. Trahan be specific how RTTT can help the parish.  Mr. Trahan stated that the wave of the future is how teachers will be evaluated; happenstance 50% of the process is performance, and the biggest step is to bring an effective teacher to the classroom. Mr. Nelson stated that the Louisiana School Boards Association is concerned about sustainability.  LSBA's position is that the research behind the Race to the Top requirements is insufficient to compensate for the long-term fiscal risk to public school systems.  Local school systems would have to continue to pay for the programs once the four-year federal grant expires, given that state and federal budgets would be unlikely to produce new appropriations and would be faced with having to ask for tax increases. 

 

Mr. Trahan stated that a lot of this is developing.  The partnership would help School Boards spend money where they would be responsible for sustainability.

 

It was mentioned that page 3 of the Partnership Agreement states that if the school system fails, to meet the grant conditions, they can be called to reimburse funds.  Mrs. D'Amico stated that sustainability language is in every grant. 

 

Mr. Don Trahan stated that in the upcoming legislative session, Race to the Top is a blueprint of how things are coming.  Governor Jindal will have a bill regarding value added compensation, and that the program will have a two-year pilot program that will be an evolving process.    Mr. Trahan stated that 50% of the grant would be given to LEAs and charter applicants, the other fifty percent would be redistributed to approved included districts.  He was questioned if charter schools would be able to receive funding and he stated that charter schools would be eligible for funding.

 

Mr. Frank Aguillard stated that Mr. Trahan had a good presentation and that he respected his recommendation, but that there is a trust factor issue among School Board members. The Pointe Coupee Parish School Board met with State Superintendent Pastorek and he persuaded them to vote for a reorganization plan for Pointe Coupee Central High School, a school in corrective action.  A Reconstitution Plan was submitted to try to keep Pointe Coupee Central High School under the school system's jurisdiction.  However, after five months, Superintendent Pastorek did not allow the school system to complete the plan prior to having the school taken over by Advance Baton Rouge.   Mr. Frank Aguillard also mentioned that the state owes local tax dollars to the public school system because of the charter school.

 

President Chad Aguillard stated that Governor Jindall will be presenting a bill and questioned what would be entailed with this process.  Mr. Trahan stated that value added pay and a new comprehensive curriculum will change the evaluation process of teachers; therefore, teacher evaluations will need to change.

 

Mrs. Debbie Collins made a motion, seconded by Mr. Kevin Hotard, to accept the Superintendent's recommendation to enter into the Louisiana Race to the Top Partnership agreement with the State Department of Education.  Mr. Thomas Nelson requested a roll call vote that resulted in the following:

 

YEAS:              Chad Aguillard, Debbie Collins, Kevin Hotard, and Anita LeJeune

NAYS:              Frank Aguillard, Brandon Bergeron, James Cline and Thomas Nelson

ABSTENTIONS:             None

 

The motion failed by a 4-4 vote.

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Bids Awarded for Head Start Playground Equipment.   Bid opening for playground equipment for the Head Start program was Thursday, January 7, 2010, at 10:00 a.m. Karen Shaw, Jared Gibbs, Donald Fuselier and Yvonne David were on the bid opening Committee.  Seven bids were distributed; the following bids were returned:  School Specialty $102,092.00; Planet Recess $110,230.60, Hahn Enterprises $118,076.00; Kaplan Early Learning did not follow the bid terms. 

 

Mr. Thomas Nelson made a motion, seconded by Debbie Collins, to accept the lowest bid for Head Start playground equipment from School Speciality for $102,092.00.  Unanimously carried.

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Child Nutrition Supervisor Contracted.  Superintendent D'Amico stated that she had met with Ms. Vivian Hughes Landry of CW Consultants, School Food Services, and was impressed with Ms. Landry's oversight management training experience in school food service.  Administrative costs can be reduced while the quality standards for meeting the nutritional needs of the students and the accountability requirements of the Louisiana Department of Education are maintained without compromising the integrity of the program.  Mrs. D'Amico recommended that the Board consider contracting with Mrs. Landry for eight hours per week, for six months, for $22,454.40, effective January 11, 2010 through June 30, 2010.  Superintendent D'Amico further recommended an evaluation of her services by June 30, 2010, to determine if we will renew the contract or consider advertising for the position of Child Nutrition Supervisor.

 

On a motion by Mr. Brandon Bergeron, seconded by Mr. Thomas Nelson, the Board voted unanimously to contract with Ms. Vivian Hughes Landry as the Child Nutrition Supervisor for Pointe Coupee Parish School Board.

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Discussion/Action Regarding Contracting with an Educational Management Organization for Rosenwald Elementary School.    Board members were provided with information regarding two educational management organizations - International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLES), and JBHM Education Group, LLC.  Superintendent D'Amico is recommending that the Board consider contracting  with one of these organizations to support efforts to raise student achievement for Rosenwald Elementary School, a school in decline, labeled Academic Assistance 3.  She stated that funds from Title I, AARA, and general fund could be used for the school improvement efforts. 

 

Board member Kevin Hotard questioned how contracting with a management organization would help.  Mrs. D'Amico stated that the comprehensive approach of the proposed services are designed to address the challenges identified in the needs assessment. Providing access to the best practice and model programs will help to ensure that instructors are teaching from bell to bell, thus creating a strategic and tactical plan for raising student achievement.

 

On a motion by Mr. James Cline and seconded by Mr. Thomas Nelson, the Board voted to give Superintendent D'Amico the latitude to enter into a contract with an Educational Management Organization for Rosenwald Elementary School.  Unanimously carried.

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Discussion/Action Regarding Construction Plans for QSCB Proceeds.   Superintendent D'Amico stated that Principals had been consulted regarding school projects to be considered for funding with Quality School Construction Bond proceeds.  Principals submitted requests for their individual school construction needs for school improvement.  Mr. Fuselier's department had prepared a cost summary report for all schools- Rosenwald Elementary, Rougon Elementary, Valverda Elementary, Upper Pointe Coupee Elementary, and Livonia High School.  The cost summary report provided quantity/location, project description type and the estimated cost.  Copies of this information was provided in a packet to Board members for their review, to be considered with funding from the Qualified School Construction Bond Money $2,400,000 as well as the total project cost for Qualified School Construction Bond Proposal of $2,249,000 with a contingency of $151,000.   A short discussion ensued.  Board member Brandon Bergeron questioned if the school system had conducted a need's assessment facility study. He was informed that Maintenance Director Donald Fuselier had compiled a binder consisting of a roof study over three years ago.  Board members were also provided information regarding projects that would require an architect, due to their time and knowledge of state and federal bid laws, Fire Marshall Codes, Health and Safety requirements, DEQ, EPA Regulations, etc.  Mr. Kevin Hotard stated that he would like the school system to be fiscally responsible, and suggested the pursuit of roofing costs as the first project phase.    Board member Anita LeJeune stated that she had a problem with how the proposal was done.  Board member Debbie Collins suggested that further study may need to be done prior to adoption of the proposal.  Board member Thomas Nelson stated that the Board could adopt the general proposal as a framework so that the school system can begin to accomplish something, and the Board could consider accepting architect bids for new construction.

 

Mr. James Cline made a motion to adopt the packet as a framework, with the roofing aspect to be first priority and to address architect fees at the next regular meeting.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Thomas Nelson. 

Mrs. Debbie Collins offered a substitute motion to move the matter to another date for further study.  The motion failed for lack of a second.

 

The original motion offered by Mr. James Cline, seconded by Mr. Thomas Nelson, to adopt the packet as a framework, with the roofing aspect to be considered first priority, and to address architect fees at the next regular meeting was unanimously carried.

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Remarks from the Superintendent.  Superintendent D'Amico announced that she will be attending the Police Jury Meeting on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 regarding the intergovernmental agreement for the park behind Rosenwald Elementary School.  She thanked Mrs. Stacy Gueho and her staff for hosting the mandatory teachers' in-service held at Livonia High School on Monday, January 4, 2010.   Mrs. D'Amico stated that the Transition Fair, sponsored by the Special Education Department, will be held on February 5, 2010.

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Adjournment.  On a motion by Mr. Thomas Nelson, seconded by Mr. Brandon Bergeron, the meeting adjourned at 7:35 p.m.

 

POINTE COUPEE PARISH SCHOOL BOARD

 

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Chad Aguillard, President

 

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Linda D'Amico, Superintendent/Secretary-Treasurer