Archive for the ‘Lincoln Parish School Board’ Category

Services for John Hays Tuesday Evening


A visitation service for John Martin Hays, 72, of Ruston will be held Tuesday, August 12, 4 PM to 6 PM, Church of the Redeemer (Episcopal) Fellowship Hall, 504 Tech Drive, Ruston.

Mr. Hays died Sunday after a lengthy illness.

He is survived by his wife Susan Turpin Hays, daughter Leslie Weston, and son-in-law Bryan Weston.

Mr. Hays was the publisher of Ruston’s Morning Paper, a weekly tabloid that focused on local news and politics.

John Martin Hays: 1942-2014


Lousiana Voice is reporting tonight that John Hays, 72, of Ruston, died this morning. His death was the result of complications from a long battle with cancer, Publisher Tom Aswell wrote.

For thirty-seven years, Hays published the Morning Paper, a weekly Ruston based independent tabloid style newspaper that was often the source of news stories no one else had the courage to print, let alone investigate.

In July 2013, Hays ceased publication, due he said to his health issues.

Some Commentary

“What the hell is this?! I ain’t printin’ that crap!! It ain’t news when the state republican chairman endorses a republican candidate for governor!!”

So spoke John Hays to me back in the fall of 1979, when as a volunteer with Dave Treen for Governor, I had been tasked with delivering to the Morning Paper office a press release from then GOP State Chair George Despot.

And that’s how a thirty-five year love/hate relationship began between the self-described “Yellow Dog Democrat” Hays and the conservative Republican Walter Abbott. Without question, Hays was one of the most important men I ever knew.

Much of what I have learned about local politics and how it works was taught to me by Hays over those thirty plus years.

I can state with gold-plated certainty that the relatively honest way that most Lincoln Parish governmental bodies conduct themselves is a direct result of those local politicians knowing that Hays was looking over their shoulder.

RIP John, I will miss you.

And thanks for all you taught me.

Schales Louisiana Elementary Teacher of the Year

Tammy Schales, with husband Danny and daughters Lara and Ashlynne - 8/5/14

Tammy Schales, with husband Danny and daughters Lara and Ashlynne – 8/5/14

Louisiana Elementary Teacher of the Year for 2015, Tammy Schales, a fourth-grade teacher at Ruston Elementary, was recognized at last night’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB). She was presented a plaque and cash stipend for her efforts.

In presenting the award, Achieve Coordinator Cathy Cox-Boniol noted that 91% of the students taught by Schales had improvements on their LEAP scores, and that her student’s reading scores had improved 50 points over a year’s time.

Schales said she had been blessed at Ruston Elementary with Principals Sonja Walker and Shavonne Garner-Price.

Said Schales, “(They) helped me convince a lot of fourth-grade children that they can read as well as anybody else.”

The board also heard from School Improvement Coordinator Donna Doss who reported on graduation rates for the district’s schools. Overall the district had rate of 85% of ninth-grade students who eventually graduated. Choudrant High School’s rate was 100%, it was noted.

The Building and Grounds Committee heard reports from Engineer Paul Riley and Architect Mike Walpole on projects at Choudrant High School and in the Ruston District.

Riley said that planning for the track project was progressing, and construction of the parking lot would soon bid. He also showed plans for the concession and storage area. He estimated completion in the Spring of 2015, weather permitting.

Walpole reported that projects at Hillcrest Elementary, I. A. Lewis, and Ruston Elementary would soon begin. Design and planning is already underway for the projects, which include new classrooms and traffic improvements.

The full board approved “substantial completion” of a couple of Ruston High School projects: The James Field turf and lighting, and the L. J. “Hoss” Garrett Stadium improvements.

Business Manager George Murphy gained approval for the revised 2013-2014 FY budget.

See here the documents.

Lincoln Parish School Board Tuesday


The Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB) will meet Tuesday, August 5, 6:00 PM, Central Office, 410 South Farmerville Street.

Here is the agenda.

The Building & Grounds Committee will meet at 5:15 PM (same location) to receive reports on construction projects at Choudrant High School and in the Ruston School District.

Here is the agenda.

Among the reports to be heard by the full board, personnel changes and sales tax receipts for July are on the agenda.

Business Manager George Murphy will ask the board to approve the revised budget for the just-ended 2013-2014 fiscal year.

See here the memo.

Laird to Remain @ RHS


Billy Laird, Ruston High School (RHS) Athletic Director and former Head Coach of the football team, will remain AD for the foreseeable future, instead of retiring as had been announced. He will assume some additional duties as an Assistant Principal.

Reportedly, a replacement for Laird had been tagged for the job, but an illness in the family prompted the prospect to not relocate at this time.

Said District Seven’s Trott Hunt at last night’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB), “I had heard several comments from folks at Ruston High about what an excellent job he (Laird) had done in the last year, and participated, and was a vital part. I know this wasn’t quite according to our plan, but I applaud the administration for being flexible, and considering what the folks there wanted to do.”

During the Building & Grounds Committee meeting, Architect Mike Walpole reported on the progress of construction at Cypress Springs Elementary School. Walpole said the project was on schedule for completion “about this time next year.”

Also, Walpole reported that the artificial turf project at RHS was substantially complete.

The Finance Committee discussed the new compensation plan for non-certificated employees, and it was approved by the full board. Overall cost of the plan was said to be about $300 thousand.

In approving the the 2014/2015 budget for the Lincoln Parish Sales and Use Tax Commission, mention was made of the significant capital expenditure for the year. Retiring administrator Jerry Moore said they had budgeted to buy a vehicle for the office, as they had been using their personal vehicles for the past twenty years.

In giving the financial report, Business Manager George Murphy said that the the $900 thousand plus increase in sales taxes for the year was about double the amount that had been projected.

June 2014 Sales Taxes

The 5/31/14 Financial Statement showed a fund balance of about $38.1 million, compared to about $38.9 million on 4/30/14, and about $39 million on 5/31/13.

Lincoln Parish School Board Tuesday


The Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB) will meet Tuesday, July 1, 6:00 PM, Central Office, 410 South Farmerville Street.

See here the agenda.

A couple of committees will meet prior to the full meeting: the Finance Comittee at 5:15 PM (agenda), and the Building & Grounds Committee at 5:30 PM (agenda).

The Finance Committee will discuss a new salary schedule for non-certificated employees – cafeteria, bus drivers, custodial, etc. The proposed plan would reward longevity with increases in pay.

See here the memo.

The Building & Grounds Committee will hear an update on various construction projects from Architect Mike Walpole. During the full board meeting, the personnel report will be presented.

In New Business, several items will be considered.

Lincoln Parish Sales & Use Tax Commission – proposed budget.

Cypress Springs Elementary construction – change order.

MFP Funding Lawsuit – resolution.

Ad Valorem Taxes 2014 – proposed millages.

Hico Citizen’s Association – Cooperative Endeavor Agreement.

Lewis Jones Announces for District Judge


Lewis Jones has officially announced his candidacy for district judge for all of Lincoln and Union Parishes.

“I believe my unique combination of areas of practice and extensive courtroom experience will be one of the things that distinguishes me from the other candidates and makes me the best choice for this job,” Jones said.

Lewis worked evenings and weekends at Dixie Dandy and Piggly Wiggly while in high school, was salutatorian of his graduating class at Ruston High School and was awarded a full scholarship to LA Tech University. While at Tech, he worked full-time at the Ruston Police Department and the Ruston Marshal’s Office. He graduated from Tech with honors and was awarded a scholarship to LSU Law School. Upon graduating from LSU, Lewis returned to Ruston, where he has practiced law for over 24 years.

“Although I primarily handle criminal and family law cases, I have also handled automobile accidents, wills, successions, property disputes, and real estate transactions,” Jones said. The vast majority of the court’s docket is comprised of criminal and family law cases, the areas in which Jones has concentrated his practice. Jones also believes his courtroom experience is an important factor for voters to consider. While some people think that all lawyers work in the courtroom, that is simply not the case. “I have handled more cases in the courtroom than the other announced candidates for this job combined,” he said.

“I believe we need a judge with integrity who will decide cases fairly and impartially,” Jones said. “Throughout my career, I have represented people from all walks of life and have not made any distinction based on their race or socio-economic background. As a judge, I would continue to treat people the same way that I have throughout my career and would make my decisions based solely on the law and out of fairness and impartiality.”

“I believe that people appearing in court deserve a judge who has extensive experience with the types of cases appearing in front of him and also a judge with the most courtroom experience possible. My background, work ethic, law enforcement experience, areas of practice, and courtroom experience distinguish me from the other candidates. That is why I believe I am the most qualified for this position, and why I am asking the citizens of Lincoln and Union Parish for their vote,” Jones said.

Lewis and his wife Gina are the parents of 2 daughters, ages 9 and 11, who attend Cypress Springs Elementary School in Ruston. He has been elected president of the Lincoln Parish Bar Association twice and instituted continuing legal education courses for local attorneys during his tenure as president. He was appointed by the mayor of Ruston to the Ruston Community Housing Development Organization and served as the organization’s secretary, was appointed to the Diversity Committee for the Lincoln Parish School Board, was one of the original members of the Third Judicial District’s Drug Court team, is a Special Olympics Partner, and has been an Adopt-A-School Partner in Lincoln Parish for the past 7 years. He and Gina were named the Outstanding Chamber Adopt-A-School Partner in the non-business category in 2011. Lewis is a member of First Baptist Church in Ruston.

Lincoln Test Scores Decline


Louisiana Education Assessment Program (LEAP) Lincoln School District test scores for 2013-2014 declined from last years scores, the first time in recent memory that has happened. LEAP tests are administered in 4th and 8th grades in the subjects of English, mathematics, science, and social studies.

Accountability Coordinator Donna Doss told last night’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB) that 4th grade overall passing scores were 74% vs 80% in 2013. The 8th grade scores were 81% this year vs 82% in 2013.

Doss attributed the declines to a change in the testing methodology from what had been administered in the past. The newer tests are compatible with the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and Common Core Standards.

Earlier, the board approved the recommendation of the Finance Committee to modify the district’s bonus schedules.

See here the bonus schedule.

Business Manager George Murphy said that May sales tax collections were up, and that the 4/30/14 fund balances were about $2 1/2 million lower than the 4/30/13 balances. The extensive capital spending program was the cause of the decline, Murphy said.

Finally, as we had predicted, the Ruston Daily Leader jacked up its pricing for the board’s legal ads. The hike – from $3.75 to $4.75 per hundred words – will result in yearly billing rising from about $19 thousand/year to about $24 thousand/year.

See here the memo and bid.

Lincoln Parish School Board Tuesday


The Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB) will meet Tuesday, June 3, Central Office, 410 South Farmerville Street.

There will be a 5:15 Finance Committee Meeting to discuss changes in the compensation plan and salary schedule for teachers.

Here is the agenda.

See here the memo.

The meeting of the full board is set for 6:00 PM.

Here is the agenda.

Among the items up for discussion are the personnel reports. Also, there is the list of the 2013-2014 retirees. Notable on the list is Ruston High School (RHS) Athletic Director Billy Laird.

Business Manager George Murphy and Superintendent Danny Bell are recommending that the June salary supplement bonuses be paid.

See here the memo.

Belton Addresses Residency, School Attendance Issues


John Belton, a candidate for Third Judicial District Attorney, and his wife Alana, issued a statement today to dispel the rumor that they moved their son to West Monroe to play football.

The Belton’s have two children, Alexis and Jon Randall. Belton said that eight years ago when Alexis was at Ruston Junior High School, concerns about the 12-year-old student were brought to their attention. Based on those concerns and a medical doctor’s evaluation, a different educational format was recommended. After much research and prayer, the Beltons transferred her to another public school system, Ouachita Parish, which utilized the recommended format. Since keeping them together was in the children’s best interest, they also transferred Jon Randall, who was eight-years-old at the time.

“As an eight-year-old, Jon Randall was not recruited by West Monroe High School for football. Rather, he was entering the third grade and was more interested in trucks and dinosaurs. We did not know then that he would play high school football. We simply knew that we needed to get the help our daughter required,” John stated.

In making the decision to transfer their children, Belton ensured that they did it legally. They researched all of their options and resources. The transfer became a big financial sacrifice in that they had to purchase a second home but considered it worthwhile because this provided their daughter a chance to succeed while learning to deal with her condition.

Alexis has since graduated from West Monroe High School and attends college where she helped to bring Campus Crusade Ministry to her university. What was difficult and hard for her to discuss at 12 years of age has become her testimony about faith and accomplishment. As a member of Athletes in Action, she has traveled to Los Angeles and Africa sharing her testimony about how, through Christ, individuals can prevail despite any disability or personal obstacles.

“Those who are parents will understand that even though Alexis has graduated we allowed Jon Randall to remain in school in Ouachita Parish because of the relationships he has formed since the third grade,” Alana said. “However, we have continued to support and sponsor Lincoln Parish schools. If it were not for the concern and help of the Lincoln Parish teachers for Alexis she would not be the success she is today. And for that we are eternally grateful.”

John Belton says this statement will also answer the question of whether he is qualified to run as a candidate in the Third Judicial District.

“I would not be a candidate for D.A. if I did not meet the legal qualifications for that office. Having more than one home does not disqualify a candidate,” John said.

The Louisiana Constitution states in order to be eligible to hold the office of district attorney, the candidate must have been admitted to the practice of law for at least five years and have resided in the district for the two years before the election. [See La. Const., Art. V, Sec. 26(A)].

“I’ve been a career prosecutor for over 22 years and have lived and voted in Lincoln Parish since 1992. The Lincoln Parish Tax Assessor has confirmed, per letter, that my homestead exemption has been in Lincoln Parish since 1992. In addition, the Louisiana Secretary of State, who is in charge of elections, confirmed, per letter, that I have been a registered voter in Lincoln Parish since 1992,” John added.


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