EASLEYVILLE — St. Helena Parish school officials have begun making the case for two tax proposals that will go before parish voters later this year.
The School Board voted 4-1 during a special meeting Thursday to place two ad valorem propositions totaling 25.8 mills on the Nov. 6 ballot. The meeting was in the former New Zion Elementary School off La. 38 east of Kentwood.
Board member Alton Travis, who represents the 6th Ward where the meeting was held, voted against the move.
Resident Joshua Conleay asked board members what would happen if voters reject the proposal, and if U.S. District Judge James J. Brady imposes a tax as part of the desegregation case, whether the court-ordered tax would likely be higher or lower than the School Board’s proposal.
Resident Richard Sandberg, pastor of the neighboring New Zion Baptist Church, wanted to know what, if any, differences there were between the current proposal and tax propositions that failed in the past.
In May 2010, the School Board sought a 20-year, 55-mill property tax to raise $2.1 million for teacher and employee salaries. The measure failed 1,613 against to 1,015 in favor.
Voters also defeated a 25-year, 37-mill property tax backing a $20.4 million bond issue in July 2008, with 1,536 against and 1,152 in favor.
A similar bond issue likewise had failed nine months previously.
The salary millage would raise certified teacher pay by $6,000 per year and noncertified employee pay by $3,500 per year, Joseph said.
The second millage would allow for renovations to the high school gym and auditorium, elementary school classrooms and gym; renovation of the elementary school’s cafeteria; new parking, a new driveway and an eight-classroom addition for the elementary school; as well as a 1,500-seat football stadium, lighting, track and field house, she said.
Archive for the ‘St. Helena Schools’ Category
It’s been a while since we’ve reviewed how things are going in this parish located northeast of Baton Rouge.
A federal district judge said Monday he has the authority to transfer the state-run St. Helena Central Middle School back into local School Board control but he’s not going to do so right now.
St. Helena Parish school system officials argued that the district’s dramatic improvement in state test scores, coupled with a financial turnaround from the brink of insolvency, proved that local officials know best how to improve parish schools and should be given a chance to do the same for the middle school.
But U.S. District Judge James J. Brady, who oversees the parish’s 60-year-old desegregation case, said during a status conference that he wants to see a longer track record of success before he considers removing the middle school from the Louisiana Department of Education’s Recovery School District.
Brady granted the RSD’s request to take over St. Helena Central Middle School in May 2010, following five years of failing scores and one year under a state-mandated agreement outlining performance goals.
St. Helena Central Elementary School and St. Helena Central High School, under School Board control, have outperformed the RSD-run middle school, School Board attorney Nelson Taylor argued in his June 27 motion. And the disruption of continuity as students move back and forth between the two districts has been detrimental to the children’s education, he said.
AMITE—A tentative treaty of detente may be finalized Friday as the Tangipahoa Parish School Board appears to have met the final requirements that may end a 46-year-old federal desegregation lawsuit overriding all public school issues in the parish.
As of late Thursday, attorneys for both sides told the School Board and members of the press that the open court hearing, originally set for 9:30 a.m. Friday, had been rescheduled as a closed court “status conference” at which time U.S. District Court Judge Ivan Lemelle may render a decision on a more than two-month-old negotiated “modification” to the Board’s 2009 desegregation plan to bring unitary status approximately 50 years after the district was slapped with federal litigation to end segregated schools.
At the heart of this so-called “compromise” is the reconstruction of three of the parishes most highly “racially identifiable” school districts–Champ Cooper in Robert, Pumpkin Center, near Ponchatoula, and of course, Loranger, the lynch pin of the desegregation talks.
For School Board attorney Charles Patin, the agreement means no new taxes, a threat that was suggested by the court last fall, well in advance of a four-proposition referendum which voters struck down by a minimum of 87 percent disapproval in April.
Patin told “The Advocate” that the agreement will allow the Board’s original plan to build three new feeder schools, as well as transform nine low-performing schools into magnet/Montessori/IB sites in place, along with accelerated course offerings in all schools, M-to-M transfers, and other offerings to fully desegregate the parish school system.
The parish will give up any plans to offer teacher pay raises and will discontinue art and music education in the primary schools as part of their concessions in the longstanding federal case.
Attorneys in Tangipahoa’s 46-year-old school desegregation case reached a compromise Thursday afternoon that settles three issues scheduled to come up in a Friday hearing in federal court, attorneys confirmed Thursday.
AMITE—Attorneys for the Tangipahoa Parish School Board could as early as today submit a “modification” to their 2009 desegregation plan in a move that could, in essence, be the first step to unitary status for the district which has been under Court mandate for more than 40 years.
On Tuesday, the Board voted 7-2 to reduce their 262-page desegregation plan to less than a dozen major talking points, all without either a new tax increase or the potential for parishwide busing, subject to Judicial approval.
Only Sandra Bailey Simmons and Andy Anderson voted against the proposal, which attorneys say mirrors a number of the talking points plaintiffs’ counsel indicated would be in line toward a possible settlement of the 46-year-old lawsuit.
The Tangipahoa Parish School Board voted on a modified desegregation plan with no new taxes Tuesday to present to federal Judge Ivan Lemelle.
In a 7-to-2 vote, with school board members Andy Anderson and Sandra Bailey-Simmons opposed, the board took attorney Charles Patin’s recommendation for a plan that will offer alternatives to the judge imposing a tax or busing.
The defendants’ modified plan calls for no salary increases for employees, no new art and music teachers at the elementary level, construction of three new schools rather than six, no new facility for the Career Education Center and dispersing Loranger students to Hammond and Amite high schools.
Under the modified plan, students from the extreme north end of Loranger would attend Amite High and those from the extreme south end of Loranger would attend Hammond High Magnet. Loranger students in the central part of Loranger would attend Loranger High, said school board attorney Chris Moody.
The school board has misled the court concerning funds already available for implementation of the current desegregation plan, according to plaintiffs’ attorney Nelson Taylor.
Taylor filed a motion Friday morning asking the court to order the Tangipahoa Parish School Board to implement the current desegregation plan. Taylor also requested a hearing to determine any court action necessary to remove obstacles that hinder the implementation of the plan.
“I think (Taylor) is asking the court to order taxes needed to fund the original plan, because we cannot implement the plan without that money,” said school system attorney Charles Patin.
According to his motion, Taylor disagrees with that assessment.
“Evidence will show that the additional funds actually needed to fully implement the current desegregation plan are considerably less than what was presented in the school taxes recently rejected by the public,” Taylor wrote in his motion.
The plaintiffs in Tangipahoa Parish’s 46-year-old school desegregation case have asked a federal judge to force the school system to implement a court-ordered desegregation plan despite voters’ rejection of the taxes to fund it, court filings show.
The motion, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in New Orleans, claims that the School Board misled the court about funds available to implement the plan.
In St. Helena Parish several people took the stance they’re “fed up with it all and they’re not going to take it anymore.” [Peter Finch in “Network” 1976 (paraphrased)] They’ve armed themselves after increased thefts and burglaries in their community. They’ve started patrolling to see if there were “suspicious” vehicles or activities in the area.
The Advocate published the report and showcased the matter as a front page article above the fold; a region normally reserved for war news, presidential politics and other disasters in the world. In an effort to prove the age-old adage “if it bleeds, it leads,” The Advocate spiked the attention of the readership by showing a citizen with his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. Read that as: “assault rifle” You can assume it’s being passively demonized as “overkill” for a hunt of active criminals actively pursuing their criminal activity. Nowhere does it say in the article it’s assumed these criminals could be armed.
First rule of engagement in combat: “bring enough gun.”
It seems that St. Helena Sheriff Nathaniel “Nat” Williams has decided to re-interpret both The U. S. Constitution and Louisiana’s State Constitution and is threatening to arrest anyone who participates in armed citizen patrols organized to protect property.
Any residents of St. Helena Parish caught riding around the parish with assault weapons will be arrested, Sheriff Nat Williams warned Tuesday.
“As far as them riding around with an assault rifle, it will not be tolerated,” he said. “Somebody with an assault weapon is no different from a criminal and will be treated the same way.”
Some residents of the parish’s 6th Ward, angered by a rash of recent break-ins, have conducted informal patrols, sometimes while armed with AR-15 semiautomatic rifles, the civilian version of the U.S. military’s M-16.
“If somebody is out riding around with an assault weapon, that’s not protecting the neighborhood, that’s terrorizing the neighborhood,” Williams said.
“Anybody want to ride around their own community, that’s fine, call us,” Williams said. “But any assault weapons, they’re going to jail.”
See here what Louisiana’s Constitution has to say about it.
The right of each citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged, but this provision shall not prevent the passage of laws to prohibit the carrying of weapons concealed on the person.
And of course there is that ancient document known as the U. S. Constitution.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Tangipahoa Parish School Board members Brett Duncan and Sandra Bailey-Simmons refuse to give depositions in the Joyce M. Moore case as the plaintiffs’ attorneys had requested on June 7.
Duncan’s and Simmons’ attorney, Glen Galbraith of the law offices of Seale & Ross filed a motion Monday to quash subpoenas issued to Duncan and Simmons and requesting a protective order preventing them from being compelled to give depositions.
The motion was filed on the grounds that, as school board members, Duncan and Simmons are protected by legislative immunity and legislative privilege, the subpoenas seek to discover evidence beyond the scope of legally allowed discovery, and the subpoenas suffer from technical defects.
The Friday editorial concerning the attorney fees associated with the desgregation suit was very interesting. It seems like the editorial board feels as though the residents of Tangipahoa Parish should just fall in line with anything Judge Lemelle requests like sheepal wearing blinders. We are slowly losing our constitutional rights as citizens, but currently we still have the right to vote, we still have the right of no taxation without representation, and people still have a right as a majority of the populace to elect officals to govern their communities with ideals they agree with.
The unfortunate thing about this desegregation issue is that it was not appealed to a higher level of federal court system. I realize that the original desegregation order stemed from late 1960s and early ’70s integration efforts and the parish at the time was found defficent or ordered 40 years ago to become compliant with the new federal integration standards at the time with future administrative efforts.
The problem is plantiffs waited some 30-plus years to raise objections to the way policies were being carried out. Nothing should have a infinite time line. There is what is called reasonable acceptance of satisfactory compliance if no objections or challenges are made by the injured parties within a reasonable subscription of time.
The attorney for two Tangipahoa Parish School Board members said Friday that he will move to quash subpoenas that would compel the pair to give depositions in an attempt to determine if they are in contempt of court.
School Board members Sandra Bailey Simmons and Brett Duncan have been called to give testimony under oath on whether statements they made in the months leading up to the historic April defeat of four school tax proposals were in contempt of court, said Nelson Taylor, the lead plaintiffs’ attorney and the one who called for the depositions.