Archive for the ‘Lincoln Parish School Board’ Category

Lincoln School Board Balks on Health Plan Changes


Despite a year-to-date deficit of nearly a million dollars in the fund that pays for medical benefits for Lincoln Parish school district employees, the school board last night declined to make any significant changes to close that deficit.

Among the proposed changes were increased co-pays for drugs and emergency room visits, an increase in drug deductibles, and an increase in the maximum out-of-pocket cost to $4500 from $3500.

The board did approve one change, to allow a ‘closed formulary’ for drugs. That means only specific drugs in each drug class are covered.

Board insurance consultant David Charpentier was on hand to brief the board on the issue, along with Business Manager George Murphy.

“What we’re fighting primarily is a prescription drug issue,” said Charpentier. “The majority of it is a consequence of the Affordable Care Act,” he added. “Today, 40 cents out of every dollar the plan pays is for drugs.”

Board members apparently have been getting pushback from district employees, as several had questions about the proposed changes.

Superintendent Mike Milstead cautioned that employee medical costs are taking a larger bite from the district’s total budget every year.

Said Milstead, “There’s two things to me that we need to consider. One is that this past year out of a $71 million budget, we paid almost $10 million in this health care fund. So if that percentage continues to go against the overall budget, the ultimate thing that will come for us is taking money away from kids to pay our insurance costs.”

The board’s consensus was that the other plan changes would be reviewed and possibly adopted in the future.

In other business, the board approved capital spending for 2017-2018 that include $2.1 million for a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Center for Ruston Junior High School, $500 thousand for two new special education classrooms at Ruston High School, $240 thousand for a new football scoreboard at Ruston High, and two classrooms at Simsboro School.

Additionally, the board approved a $500 increase in the November salary supplement checks. Employees with teaching certificates will receive $3000, instead of $2500, and other employees will receive $1500 versus $1250.

See here the board agendas and memos for the meeting.


Lincoln Parish School Board Tonight


It’s a busy agenda for the Lincoln Parish School Board’s (LPSB) regular month meeting. The Building & Grounds Committee will meet at 5:30 PM, followed by the Finance Committee at 5:45. The full board will meet at 6:00 PM.

Among the notable agenda items are changes to the district’s medical plan (increases in deductibles and co-pays) and adoption of the FY 2017-2018 budget.

The meetings will be held at the Central Office, 410 South Farmerville Street.

Here are the agendas and memos.

Lincoln Parish Public Schools Crank Up Next Week


Lincoln Parish public schools will have a half-day of classes on Friday, August 11, with the first full day of classes set for Monday, August 14, Superintendent Mike Milstead told last night’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB). Teachers will report Monday for a meeting at Ruston High School.

Said Milstead, “I’ve always been excited about the first day of school. I don’t think that’ll ever go away.”

The board also reviewed the capital outlay plan for future construction.

Among the major projects planned for 2018 include a $2.1 million STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) center at Ruston Junior High, $500 thousand for two special ed classrooms at Ruston High, $800 thousand for sports facilities at the new Ruston Parks & Recreation complex on South Farmerville Street.

See here the outlay plan spreadsheet.

At the September board meeting, the Building & Grounds Committee will meet for a more detailed review of future plans, it was decided.

Business Manager George Murphy reported that sales tax collections had stabilized somewhat, with the past three months of collections showing a slight increase over the same period a year ago.

See here the report.

Lincoln Parish School Board Tomorrow


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

Here is the agenda.

There are significant personnel reassignments for August, which is normal during summer break.

See here the list.

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.