Archive for the ‘Lincoln Parish School Board’ Category

LA High School Football Killed until “Phase 4” – Is it Time for School Tax Refund to Taxpayers?

07/13/2020

No high school football until La. enters phase 4, LHSAA votes

By Matt Houston – WAFB-TV Baton Rouge

The Louisiana High School Athletic Association voted on Monday not to allow high school football games to be played until the state enters phase 4 of K-12 re-opening.

No sports are allowed under phase 1. In phase 2, cross country and swimming will resume as normal, and volleyball will be allowed to practice and have scrimmages amongst themselves.

Football will be allowed to practice beginning in phase 3, but will not scrimmage themselves nor other schools until phase 4.

Some Lincoln Parish Parents Want to HomeSchool until Vaccine

07/08/2020

According to Lincoln School District Superintendent Mike Milstead, about 25% of parents will not physically send their children to area schools this fall, and will opt to use online learning.

“It looks like 25.4% plan to educate their children at home. In the comments section of that survey the reason for that was that they wanted to keep them at home until there was a vaccine,” he said.

Milstead said he would be meeting with principals this week to discuss plans for opening next month, and would notify the public next week.

Regarding transportation, Milstead said that with the reduced attendance, there may be enough bus capacity to transport the children without double routes. About half the students ride buses, he said.

Milstead said that although students would be required to wear masks, there would likely be no ‘discipline referral’ for students who might have problems with masks all day long.

“We are going to urge principals and teachers to be very lax about kids, reminding them to keep their masks on. The typical 8-year old is not going be able to keep that mask on all day,” he said

Milstead also talked about sports and the “very possible” chance that all fall high school sports might be cancelled. He said that it would be a problem for some students, as sports are a motivating factor for them.

The decision on the sports would be made at the state level, he said.

Milstead’s remarks came during his comment period at last night’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish School Board.

Earlier in the meeting, the board voted to authorize insurance consultant Brown & Brown to conduct a complete survey of the district’s medical insurance plan. Costs have grown over the past few years, and the study will attempt to locate areas of cost savings and report results to the board.

Here’s the memo.

School Tax Hike Vote to be Sat, Aug 15

07/06/2020

If tomorrow night the Lincoln Parish School Board approves, a new parishwide 1/2 cent sales tax hike will be on the ballot for Saturday, August 15.

Originally, the date for the vote had been set for May of this year, but as a result of the Covid-19 hysteria, the Louisiana Secretary of State and Gov Bel Edwards rescheduled the vote to August. The board vote would acknowledge the new election date.

Here’s the pertinent language:

Just a reminder,the election was officially called on October 1, 2019, for the purpose of levying a new 1/2 cent parishwide sales and use tax to provide for additional salaries and benefits for permanent/salaried employees, the placement of a school resource officer at every school, building security upgrades, and financial support for increasing employer health plan costs. Any residual revenues could be used to support other needs such as technology, instructional programs, facility maintenance, and property insurance premiums. Again, this would be a permanent parishwide sales and use tax.

See here the resolution.

Tomorrow (Tuesday, July 7) night’s meeting is set for 6:00 PM, Lincoln Parish STEM Center, 525 Tarbutton Road, adjacent to Ruston Junior High School.

Here is the agenda.

Milstead: “At Some Point You’ve Got to Get Kids in the Building”

06/03/2020

Lincoln School District Superintendent Mike Milstead last night told members of the Lincoln Parish School Board that if you tried to plan for every eventuality concerning the Covid 19 virus, schools would never reopen.

Said Milstead, “If we plan for every contingency that could possibly happen, we won’t have school. At some point you’ve got to get kids in the building.”

He noted the problem of trying to operate school bus routes with 10 or 12 passengers per bus, instead of forty.

“That won’t work well,” he said.

“We’ve got to have school. Start school, and then do the best we can. There are so many nuances associated with this process, that making every threat to every kid go away is impossible,” Milstead added.

He said that it was likely that “virtual” or online classes would be held every day, so that students that were sick at home could keep up with their studies.

Students that don’t have a computer or smart device would be provided one, and would be paid for with federal grants. Internet service would also be provided.

Implementation of the plan is already underway, Assistant Superintendent Lisa Bastion said.

Earlier in the meeting, Ruston Elementary School Principal Mandy Brown was recognized as a semi-finalist for 2021 Louisiana Principal of the year.

District Seven board member Hunter Smith said that his oldest son attended Ruston Elementary, and that he was excited that his other two would soon attend there.

“There was not a more impactful year for my oldest son than the year he had at Ruston Elementary,” he said.

Lincoln Parish School Board Tuesday

06/01/2020

The Lincoln Parish School Board will meet Tuesday, June 2, 6:00 PM, Ruston High School Auditorium, 900 Bearcat Drive.

Here is the agenda.

Notable on the agenda is consideration of an employee compensation schedule. We can’t recall this ever coming before the school board in the eleven years of our coverage.

Here is the proposed schedule.

Among the reports to be heard:

Personnel
Financial Statement
Sales Tax Report

New Way of Teaching Coming to Lincoln Schools

05/13/2020

Significant changes are coming to the way Lincoln Parish School District students will receive their education, according to a new plan unveiled at last night’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish School Board.

Assistant Superintendent Lisa Bastion said “Regardless of what happens (in the future), our students have to continue learning.”

The different style of teaching could be implemented during school closures, or if schools were to open in shifts, with some students attending the first part of a the week, and the remainder the rest of the week. Also, a flexible school calendar may be part of the plan.

She said “Lincoln Strong Start 2020” will plan for delivery of virtual instruction in some form. Possibilities include video recorded lessons that could be viewed live or sometime later, online instruction for students, a technology device for all students to access the information, and connectivity for students who don’t presently have that capability.

The recently enacted CARES act would provide funding for purchase of the technology devices.

Said Bastion, “Online learning for the students would become a normal part of the learning process.” She added, “We know what we have to do, and our employees are committed to doing what they have to do help our students.”

The plan would be for all students, K through 12.

The board also approved reducing the May salary supplement check by $800 for certified employees, and $400 to support employees, per recommendation by district leadership.

Danny Hancock (District Five) was the only no vote.

A couple of board members apologized to employees for voting for the cuts, but said it was necessary because of the revenue shortfalls.

Business manager Juanita Duke said that further cuts would likely be needed, and that further changes for the health plan are being reviewed.

Despite the plea by several House of Raeford representatives for an industrial tax exemption, the board voted unanimously to deny the application.

The company is building a new poultry feed mill in Simsboro, that will replace an old facility in Choudrant. The new mill is expected to support about 80 more growing houses than at present.

Added 5/14/20 – 1:45 PM

Here’s the presentation made by Lisa Bastion

Lincoln strong start 2020

  • Foundation to a strong start
  • High Quality Curriculum
  • High Quality Teacher Development
  • High Quality Assessments

Major Focus for Lincoln

A professional development plan with options for versatile delivery of training on curriculum, instruction, and technology, in anticipation of school closures or modified operations

  • Identify student’s academic needs
  • Have a plan for each student’s unfinished learning
  • Provide support for early readers
  • Provide for emotional, behavioral, and mental health screenings and services
  • Provide compensatory education and support for students with disabilities

A Strong start for every student

Options for Lincoln

  • All teachers would deliver virtual instruction regularly so students and teachers are comfortable if school closures or modifications are required. Teachers would be required to have designated “office hours” to address questions, re-teaching, or enrichment for students or parents.
  • Teacher recorded video lessons in all classes would be available for students to access. This access could help students who are absent and serve as a strategy or support for struggling, homebound, or home school students.
  • On-line instruction would become part of the normal teaching process.
  • All students would receive a technology device to use and be responsible for, and students in grades 3-12 would carry devices to school and from school everyday.
  • Students would receive grades (either numerical or P/F) on work completed through online instruction.
  • Suspended and or alternative school students would have access to teacher recorded instructional videos.
  • On-line learning would become part of the normal learning process.

Requirements for Receiving federal monies

  • Administer high quality screeners in ELA and Math to students to assess their learning needs
  • Continue with aligned curricular materials in core classes, and non-core courses; continue students on their graduation paths
  • Provide supports for social and mental health, English Learners, and students with disabilities along with services and devices (including compensatory education reviews and services)
  • Develop a comprehensive professional development plan for teachers to address distance learning protocols and methods by June 30
  • Continue to provide training for mentor teachers and content leaders either virtually or in-person
  • Develop an adaptive staffing plan to be used during school closures or during modified operations
  • Develop a plan to reopen schools following state and local public health guidance
  • Adopt a flexible school calendar to maximize learning opportunities throughout the year
  • Develop a strategic communication plan, which during school closures or modified openings would ensure that teachers are connecting with students daily, feedback is provided weekly to students, and assist families in understanding their role in their students’ continuous learning
  • Provide 1:1 student ratio for devices AND connectivity for all Pre K-12 students for use at home
  • Maintain at minimum, the same number of Pre K seats as in 2019-2020 school year.

 

Lincoln School’s 13th Check to get Trimmed

05/07/2020

A recommendation to cut the recently approve May salary supplement (13th check) for Lincoln Parish School District Employees has been made, and will be considered at next weeks meeting of the school board. That payment had been approved at the 3/6/20 meeting of the board.

As originally approved, the supplement was to be $5,825 for certified employees, and $2,913 for non-certified.

The recommendation is for the amount to be trimmed $800 and $400, respectively, (about 14%) to $5,025 and $2,513.

See here the memo.

The sales tax report reflects the decline in sales taxes that is ongoing.

During the meeting, Business Manager Juanita Duke will present a 10-year analysis of tax collections for the district.

See here the chart prepared for the meeting.

Next week’s meeting is set for next Tuesday, May 12, 6:00 PM, at the Central Office, but will be closed to the public. The meeting can be viewed on the district’s facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lincolnparishschools/

Questions may be submitted to: kmccorma@lincolnschools.org

Here is the agenda.

Lincoln Parish Sales Tax Collections Fall

05/03/2020

Local governments that depend upon sales taxes to fund their operation and pay employees are in for a rough time over the foreseeable future, according to newly compiled figures that track those numbers.

Sales tax collections for March, 2020 are about 12 1/2% lower than for the same month of 2019, $3.88 million vs $4.44 million.

Particularly hard-hit are the hotel/motel tax (down 57.8%) and the Village of Choudrant (down 40.7%).

As the hotel/motel tax is the primary source of income for the Ruston/Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau, that agency will likely have to effect changes in how money is spent.

Here is the complete spreadsheet.

Figures for March, 2020 reflect that month where the ‘economic shutdown’ began, at about the middle of the month. April, 2020 figures can be expected to show a greater loss, as the shutdown was in force for the entire month.

February, 2020 tax collections broken down by industry groups showed weakness in Oil & Gas (down 77.5%), Eating & Drinking Places (down 7.5%), and Hotel and Other Lodging Places (down 28%).

See here the complete list.

When do the Politicians Take a Pay Cut?

04/15/2020

Over the last six weeks, millions of Americans have lost their jobs, and hundreds of thousands of those have been our fellow Louisiana citizens.

As we had predicted, local governments have begun to trim their payrolls, because their tax revenues have been vaporized by shutdowns. School districts, police juries, and cities have furloughed employees.

Have any local politicians volunteered to cut his/her pay? Very few, if any.

In any of the last month’s public meetings we’ve been to, or watched online, never has that subject come up.

City councils? Police jurors? School board members? Judges? District attorneys? Senators? Representatives? Sheriffs?

So when will our “public servants” show they are really willing to share the pain that the people who pay their salaries are now enduring?

School District Salary Supplements, Staffing Levels Under Review

04/15/2020

The twice yearly salary supplements – often called 13th and 14th checks – paid to employees of the Lincoln Parish School District are under review, along with district staffing levels, Superintendent Mike Milstead told last night’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish School Board.

Said Milstead, “Staffing is going to be an issue for us. We’re anticipating a much larger reduction in sales tax receipts. With a 40, 50, 60% decline (in sales taxes), that’s problematic for us.”

Milstead noted that four sales funds make up the monies that pay the salary supplements, and they are looking at a $1 to $1.5 million deficit. He added that he’s asking all non-essential spending to be curtailed, including maintenance and operation items.

One of the sales tax funds helps fund the insurance program, and it will see a cut, Milstead said.

Even though the remainder of the school year has been cancelled, some classes have been conducted online, Milstead said. “The educational process continues for us.”

Graduating seniors hopefully will be able to have ceremonies conducted in June, but that may not happen, Milstead said.

Milstead said that students who missed the ACT test this spring would have an opportunity to make up the test in June or October.

In other business, the board tabled action on a tax exemption for a Raeford Farms feed mill under construction near Simsboro.

The board unanimously approved purchase of supplies, and bleachers for I. A. Lewis.

The meeting was conducted via the remote meeting app ZOOM, and was also broadcast over the internet on the district’s Facebook page. With the ZOOM app, the individual participants could be seen and heard from their computers.