Archive for the ‘Lincoln Parish School Board’ Category

LPSB Retireds to have Medicare as Primary Insurance


Retired employees of the Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB) who qualify will be covered by Medicare as their primary insurance vehicle, rather than the district’s Blue Cross/Blue Shield group insurance program, if a plan discussed at last night’s board meeting is adopted.

Qualified individuals are those LPSB employees who have had sufficient civilian employment (40 quarters) that paid into Social Security/Medicare, and are 65 years or older.

Business Manager George Murphy said that continuing losses in the district’s self-funded plan made the changes necessary.

Said Murphy, “We actually had a meeting today with David Charpentier about carving out a portion for retirees and setting that as a separate plan. The plan right now is to meet with retirees and get their feedback and see if their amenable to it.”

He added, “There’s a plan that Humana has where the federal government through Medicare picks up a higher percentage of the cost of the plan.”

Another change coming is a wellness check for active employees, Murphy said.

“Starting on July the First, through July the First through June the Thirtieth of next year, every active employee, and their spouse if they have one, HAS TO HAVE a wellness check,” he said.

Murphy also reported on tax collections for the month of April.

See here the report.

Prior to the full board meeting, the Executive Committee met and revisited Superintendent Mike Milstead’s contract extension and pay raise, erroneously enacted at the March board meeting.

The committee unanimously voted for the extension and raise, and the full board ratified their recommendation.

Asked by a reporter from the Ruston Daily Leader what was the “procedural error” made at the March meeting, Chair Lynda Henderson said, “We were supposed to have a public meeting, and it won’t happen again. It was a mistake.”

Board President Joe Mitcham distributed a comparison of the base salaries of other area school superintendents.

Finally, the board adopted tax millages for 2017. The rates are the same as 2016, with the exception of a Choudrant District 20 mil tax reduced to 18 mils, and a Simsboro District 7.75 millage cut to 7.25.

See here the memo.

School Board to Re-vote Supt Pay Raise


Due to what is described as a “procedural error,” next Tuesday’s (May 2) meeting of the Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB) will have mulligan on the March action to award Superintendent Mike Milstead a $10 thousand/year pay raise and contract extension.

From the memo and agenda:

Assistant District Attorney Jeff Robinson has noted a procedural error in the extension of the Superintendent’s contract at the March meeting; therefore, the Executive Committee will meet at 5:45p.m. on Tuesday, May 2, 2017,to consider the same.

Also, the Employment of the Superintendent policy-CED says the contract period can extend no longer than two years after the expiration of the term of office of the Board. Because board members’ current term ends in December 2018, instead of a full four year contract,the maximum time period for this contract is three and one-half years.

Lincoln Parish News Online had noted in a news story earlier this month that the March action was likely not valid because the committee that recommended the action did not have a public meeting.

The full board meeting is set for 6:00 PM at the Central Office, 410 South Farmerville Street.

Here is the agenda.

Lincoln School Tax Vote Tomorrow


Polls will be open from 7 AM to 8 PM tomorrow (Saturday, April 29) for Lincoln Parish voters to cast their ballot on re-imposition of expiring property taxes for area schools.

The combined total of 18.36 mils, if approved, would cost the owner of a $250 thousand house about $320/yr.

To find your voting location, go to this page at the LA Secretary of State website, type in your name, zip code, birth month and year. The name and address of the polling place will be shown.

Lincoln School Tax Early Voting Underway


Early voting got underway Saturday to reimpose three Lincoln Parish School District property taxes that are set to expire at the end of 2018. The three taxes total 18.36 mils. That amounts to about $320/yr for the owner of a $250 thousand house.

See here the propositions:

Proposition No. 1

Shall Consolidated School District No. 1 of the Parish of Lincoln, State of Louisiana (the “District”), levy a special tax of four and ninety-four hundredths (4.94) mills on all property subject to taxation within the District (an estimated $2,156,200 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the Tax for an entire year), for a period of ten (10) years, beginning with the year 2019 and ending with the year 2028, for the purpose of constructing, equipping and/or improving school buildings in the District or for the maintenance thereof?

Proposition No. 2

Shall Consolidated School District No. 1 of the Parish of Lincoln, State of Louisiana (the “District”), levy a special tax of four and ninety-four hundredths (4.94) mills on all property subject to taxation within the District (an estimated $2,156,200 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the Tax for an entire year), for a period of ten (10) years, beginning with the year 2019 and ending with the year 2028, for the purpose of giving additional support for operation of public schools in the District?

Proposition No. 3

Shall Consolidated School District No. 1 of the Parish of Lincoln, State of Louisiana, levy an eight and forty-eight hundredths (8.48) mills tax on all the property subject to taxation in said School District (an estimated $3,701,350 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the tax for an entire year), for a period of ten (10) years, beginning with the year 2020 and ending with the year 2029, for the purpose of giving additional support to public elementary and secondary schools, more specifically as follows: (i) 50% for paying salaries and benefits of teachers and other employees of the Lincoln Parish School Board, and (ii) 50% for paying retirees single coverage health insurance premiums, paying for computer technology equipment, software, maintenance and training, cost of mandated summer school program, and for operating, improving and maintaining school buildings, facilities, vehicles and equipment?

Early voting is through Saturday, April 22, at the Lincoln Parish Registrar of Voters Office, Lincoln Parish Court House, ground floor, 8:30 AM to 6PM.

The election date is Saturday, April 29.

Milstead Pay Raise/Contract Renewal May Be Void


A recent $10 thousand/year pay raise and four year contract extension for Lincoln Parish School Superintendent Mike Milstead may be null and void because the committee that recommended the action likely met in an illegal secret meeting.

At the 3/7/17 meeting of the board, a unanimous vote was made by the eleven members present to award the raise and extend the contract. However, the vote was upon the recommendation of the Executive Committee, chaired by Lynda Henderson (District 9). Other committee members are Curtis Dowling (District 3) and Danny Hancock (District 5).

As the action was recommended by a committee, there was no motion or second for the new contract.

If placed into effect, Milstead’s salary increases from $137 thousand/year to $147 thousand. Additionally, he receives, yearly, $7 thousand in medical benefits, $37.6 thousand in retirement contributions, and about $10 thousand in travel benefits.

The action has been questioned by some in the school system, as the district is facing an $8 million plus cut in Minimum Foundation Program funding from the state.

According to the approved minutes of the March meeting, the pay raise recommendation came from the committee.

President Joe Mitcham announced that Mike Milstead’s current term as Superintendent would expire on June 30, 2017. He turned the floor over to Lynda Henderson, Chairperson of the Executive Committee, whose committee consists of Danny Hancock and Curtis Dowling. On behalf of the Executive Committee, she said she would like to recommend that Superintendent Milstead’s contract be extended for an additional four (4) years and that his salary be increased by $10,000.00 effective July 1, 2017.

Joe Mitcham repeated the Executive Committee’s recommendation and added that all others terms and conditions of the original contract would remain the same. He asked for public comments or questions. After a few questions from the public and one comment by a board member, the Board unanimously voted by roll call to extend Superintendent Mike Milstead’s contract for an additional four (4) years, to increase his salary by $10,000.00, and for all of the other terms and conditions of the contract to remain the same.

See here the minutes.

We have reviewed our audio recording of the meeting (we record and archive ALL public meetings that we cover), and the minutes are an accurate reflection of the discussion that took place.

We requested a copy of the committee meeting minutes, agenda, and public notice a day after the March meeting.

See here our letter.

Two days later, Milstead replied in writing that there were no records, because there had been no meeting of the Executive Committee.

See here Milstead’s letter.

So the issue is can a committee that didn’t meet recommend an action be taken? And if the committee met secretly, are actions taken therein valid?

For that, we turn to Louisiana’s Open Meetings Law.

LA RS 42:24

Voidability – Any action taken in violation of this Chapter shall be voidable by a court of competent jurisdiction. A suit to void any action must be commenced within sixty days of the action.

LA RS 42:28

Civil Penalties – Any member of a public body who knowingly and wilfully participates in a meeting conducted in violation of this Chapter, shall be subject to a civil penalty not to exceed one hundred dollars per violation. The member shall be personally liable for the payment of such penalty. A suit to collect such penalty must be instituted within sixty days of the violation.

LA RS 42:14

Meetings of public bodies to be open to the public
A. Every meeting of any public body shall be open to the public unless closed pursuant to R.S. 42:16, 17, or 18.
B. Each public body shall be prohibited from utilizing any manner of proxy voting procedure, secret balloting, or any other means to circumvent the intent of this Chapter.
C. All votes made by members of a public body shall be viva voce and shall be recorded in the minutes, journal, or other official, written proceedings of the body, which shall be a public document.

Scheaffer National Merit Scholarship Finalist


Hannah Scheaffer, with proud Mom and Dad Patty and David

At last night’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB), Ruston High School’s latest National Merit Scholarship finalist was introduced – Hannah Scheaffer. Lincoln ACHIEVE Coordinator Cathi Cox-Boniol noted her many accomplishments:

“With a 4.0 GPA and ACT score of 34, Hannah has been inducted into the National Honor Society. An accomplished and awarded musician, she is 1st Chair Flute and Uniform Manager for the Ruston High School Band as well as Co-Captain for the Lady Bearcats Swim Team. Since her semi-finalist recognition, Hannah helped the Lady Bearcats finish as State Runner-Up in the Division 2 Swim Meet and was named to the State All-Academic Team in Swimming. A Bearcat Mentor and high school tutor in both Geometry and Biology, she is a member of the Trinity United Methodist Church Youth Leadership Team.”

Board President Joe Mitcham said, “Hannah, you make us proud, also, because Lincoln Parish is known for National Merit finalists and scholars, and we really appreciate your hard work and the talents you have.”

In board business, new elementary pupil attendance boundaries were adopted for the 2017-2018 school year. The dividing line between Cypress Springs/Glenview and Hillcrest/Ruston Elementary will be US Hwy 167, except for a small area south of town.

See here the maps.

Current Attendance Zones
New Attendance Zones

There was more bad news on the financial front. Business Manager George Murphy said the state would be cutting $2.7 million more from Minimum Foundation Program funding. That is on top of the $5.4 million cut he announced at the March meeting.

There was enough money to fund a May salary supplement bonus for employees, Murphy said. That “14th check” will amount to $5,325 for certified personnel and $2,663 for support personnel.

The total distributed amounts to about $4.5 million, Murphy said.

Lincoln Parish School Board Tuesday


The Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB) will meet Tuesday, April 4, 6:00 PM, Central Office, 410 South Farmerville.

Here is the agenda.

Despite Money Woes, LPSB Gives Supt $10K/Yr Raise


Mere minutes after Business Manager George Murphy cited severe revenue shortfalls facing the Lincoln Parish School District the School Board voted unanimously at last night’s meeting to award Superintendent Mike Milstead a four-year extension to his contract, along with a $10 thousand/year salary sweetener.

Milstead’s salary will go from $137 thousand/year to $147 thousand. Additionally, he receives, yearly, $7 thousand in medical benefits, $37.6 thousand in retirement contributions, and about $10 thousand in travel benefits.

See here the 2015-2016 audit, pg 161.

The Board’s Executive Committee – Lynda Henderson, District 9; Curtis Dowling, District 3; Danny Hancock, District 5 – recommended the raise.

Earlier, Murphy notified the board that for the 2017-2018 school year, the state’s Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) funding would be reduced some $5.4 million for the 2017-2018 school year.

Said Murphy, “For 17-18, reduction in MFP of $5.4 million. For the time being, we’re OK. Y’all need to know that it could be tough times for the next couple of years.”

Also, Murphy noted that local sales tax collections are down significantly less that last year. For the first eight months of the current fiscal year (7/1/16-6/30/17), sales tax collections are $3.8 million lower than the same period for the previous fiscal year.

See here the sales tax report.

Murphy opined that the July salary supplement (14th check) should be okay for now.

Not so the district’s medical plan. Murphy said that they may soon have to deal with the increase in retiree medical costs.

“It may not be where everybody’s happy about it out there with the retirees,” Murphy said. “We have a responsibility to make sure this thing stays solvent. We will come to you, and there’s probably some tough decisions to be made,” he added.

In other business, Milstead said he would be asking the board soon to approve redrawing Ruston School District elementary attendance zones for next school year.

Presently, some elementary students on the east side of the Ruston School District are bussed across town to attend either Glenview or Cypress Springs. The new proposal would make US Hwy 167 the approximate dividing line. Elementary students west of the highway would go to Glenview and Cypress Springs, while those on the east side would go to Ruston Elementary or Hillcrest.

Provision would be made so that students newly enrolled in a school for Kindergarten or first grade could stay there if desired, or could move a newly assigned school.

Finally, there was a bit of discussion about the recent Louisiana School Board Convention annual convention in New Orleans, and whether it was worth the expense to attend.

Asked how much the taxpayers were on the hook for, Murphy said “about $11 thousand.”

Lincoln Parish School Board Meets Tuesday


The Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB) will meet Tuesday, March 7, 6:00 PM, Central Office, 410 South Farmerville Street.

Here is the agenda.

Notable retirements announced include Assistant Superintendent Mary Null and Testing/Accountability Coordinator Donna Doss. Both are set to retire effective 6/30/17.

LP School Supt Milstead Talks Year-Round Schools


In the year and a half that Mike Milstead has been Superintendent of Lincoln Parish Schools, one could hear hints occasionally about Milstead’s support for the concept of Year-Round Schools.

At yesterday’s meeting of the School Board, he expounded on the subject.

Said Milstead, “You’re re-configuring the calendar. You’re taking a 180 day school year, in theory, and maybe going 190 days, because you’re shortening the break time in summer. The goal is to get to the point where we have one school in the district that parents from anywhere in the district can voluntarily send their children to grades K through five.”

He added, “We’re going to have several focus groups, where we bring some people in and begin to have a conversation about what this should look like. The goal is make sure that every kid – every kid every year that is not a special needs kid – and even some of them – is not retained.”

Milstead said that the program would be voluntary, and would have a teacher/pupil ratio of 10 to 15 pupils per teacher.

Milstead noted that after the summer break, some pupils take as much as two months to regain their knowledge level achieved prior to the break.

He said that the program could be started within a year and a half, depending on future construction schedules.

Earlier in the meeting, the board got briefed on an unusual occurrence – an annual financial audit with significant findings.

Amy Tynes, with Allen, Green & Williamson, said two of the more serious findings were at the newly-chartered Lincoln Preparatory School in Grambling.

Tynes said the school’s administration failed to provide documentation for salaries and benefits.

Said Tynes, “They paid time for individual’s work, or their salaries and, benefits, but there was no support of the actual time worked. There were no time sheets, or anything like that.”

Over $100 thousand was involved, she said.

Also, the school failed to obtain bids for band equipment that was over the $30 thousand threshold for the state’s public bid law.

While the charter school is not directly controlled by the school board, any audit findings are reflected on the Lincoln School’s audit.