Archive for the ‘Lincoln Parish School Board’ Category

“Unitary Status” for Lincoln Schools in Sight

11/02/2016

Lincoln Parish Schools should be free of Federal oversight within the next few months, Superintendent Mike Milstead told the Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB) at last night’s meeting.

Later this month a U. S. Department of Justice representative will do a “walk through,” after which the final documentation will be submitted.

Said Mistead, “We want to this time next year have it as a non-issue, and then we can make some decisions for Lincoln Parish Schools.”

The district has been under court supervision for decades as to student racial makeup. The original desegregation suite, Copeland v Lincoln Parish Schools, was filed in 1966.

In other business, the board approved a resolution calling a public hearing at the December 6 board meeting to hear comments regarding a proposed April 29, 2017 tax election. Three parish-wide property taxes totaling nearly 20 mils are expiring, and the board will propose that they be re-imposed.

Business Manager George Murphy reported that October sales tax collections declined compared to the same period last year.

A. E. Phillips, Feds Reach Settlement

11/01/2016

Federal court orders desegregation of Lincoln Parish public school

KTBS – TV3 Shreveport

A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the desegregation of public school in Lincoln Parish through a settlement agreement with Louisiana Tech University.

The agreement reduces enrollment barriers and further desegregates A.E. Phillips Laboratory School, a K-8 public school operated by Louisiana Tech on its campus in Lincoln Parish, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s office.

A.E. Phillips, which opened in approximately 1910 as a segregated school serving only white students, was first ordered to desegregate in 1984. Following an investigation the Justice Department concluded, and Louisiana Tech agreed, that more work is needed to open up A.E. Phillips’ educational program to all students of Lincoln Parish.

As a laboratory school, A.E. Phillips is known for its strong academic programs and teaching, and serves as a resource for Louisiana Tech’s College of Education to train future teachers and apply innovative education techniques.

The University of Louisiana System, the Louisiana Board of Regents, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Louisiana State Superintendent of Education are also parties to the settlement agreement. Under the consent order, Louisiana Tech and A.E. Phillips will do the following:

increase the percentage of black student enrollment so that the percentage of black students enrolled at A.E. Phillips reflects the percentage of black students in grades K-8 enrolled in Lincoln Parish School Board’s schools by the 2020 through 2021 school year;
take steps to expand A.E. Phillips’ existing facilities to two classrooms per grade level to accommodate additional black student enrollment;
develop a comprehensive plan to recruit black students for incoming kindergarten classes and for available vacancies in other grade levels;
offer full and partial tuition scholarships to admitted black students who are eligible for free and reduced price student meals under the federal guidelines;
offer free and reduced price meals to admitted black students who meet the federal requirements for assistance; and
take affirmative measures to recruit black candidates for administrator, teacher, certified staff and other staff vacancies at the school.

“We commend the Louisiana Tech community for its firm commitment to make the promise of equal access to education a reality for all children, regardless of the color of their skin,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Our consent order establishes long overdue protections critical to increasing the enrollment of – and support for – black students at A.E. Phillips.”

“All students should have a quality education and should not be barred from any school that provides them that education,” said U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley of the Western District of Louisiana. “This consent order will have an important and lasting impact for all the students in the Lincoln Parish community. The children of Louisiana should always be the focus. We look forward to continuing to work with Louisiana Tech, A.E. Phillips and the state education agencies to ensure that the order is successfully implemented.”

The order dismisses the court’s supervision of the desegregation of A.E. Phillips in the areas of transportation and extracurricular activities. Upon full implementation of the consent order, Louisiana Tech and the state education agencies may seek the court’s approval to dismiss the desegregation case against A.E. Phillips.

Lincoln Parish School Board Tuesday

10/31/2016

The Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB) will meet Tuesday, November 1, 2016, 6:00 PM, Central Office, 410 South Farmerville Street.

Here is the agenda.

$3.8 Million for new Central Office on Lincoln Sch Bd Wish List

10/05/2016

Now that tens of millions of taxpayer dollars have been poured into upgrades of Lincoln Parish school buildings over the past few years, it was only a matter of time before construction of a shiny new Central Office building got put on the district’s capital outlay plan.

According to a plan approved at yesterday’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB), $3.8 will be budgeted in 2021 for just that purpose. The budget price doesn’t include any land purchase.

See here the plan.

Superintendent Mike Milstead said that the existing building was built in the 1950’s, and that it wasn’t feasible to keep spending money on upkeep of a building that old.

No location has been decided upon, Milstead said.

“I’ve been in conversation already with the mayor, with the police jury about properties, and how we can do that as I’ve explained to you (board members) in our individual conversations,” he said.

In other money matters, the decline in sales tax revenues continues, according to Business Manager George Murphy.

See here the September sales tax report.

The board also adopted the recommendations for the employee health plan.

See here the memo.

Lincoln School Board Meets Tuesday

10/03/2016

The Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB) will meet Tuesday, October 4 in their regular monthly meeting. However, as is the custom a couple of times a year, the meeting will be at a local school, rather than the central office.

The 10:30 AM meeting is in the Hawk Room, Hillcrest Elementary, 301 East Kentucky. At 10:15, the Building & Grounds Committee will meet.

Here are the agendas.

Of interest is a recommendation for changes in the district’s health plan for employees. For 2017, the suggested changes are:

1. Implementation of a wellness plan.
2. Increase in therapy visits.
3. Drug copay increase.
4. Increase in medical deductible.

See here the memo.

Shadoin: “There’s not enough money to go around”

09/07/2016

Voicing a lament common from governments at all levels since time immemorial, Louisiana State Representative Rob Shadoin (District 12) told last night’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB), “There’s not enough money to go around folks, and I know there’s some candidates that are spewing ‘well we don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.’ I disagree with that.”

He also decried the partisan atmosphere in Baton Rouge thus: “I saw early, early, the breaking out of certain people in both parties that seem to be more loyal and pledged allegiance to an ideology of a political party rather than Louisiana first.”

The legislature last spring enacted several new taxes, over the objection of the more conservative house members.

Shadoin voted mostly for the taxes, he said, because the alternative cuts would have been too drastic. He seemed also to be disillusioned with the process, saying “I think we age in dog years down there. I wanted to come home.”

Next year’s session would be tough, Shadoin said, because the new taxes have a sunset provision and will have to re-voted again in the future.

Also at the meeting was Rep. Patrick Jefferson (District 11) who indicated that he would have voted for even more taxes.

Said Jefferson, “Many people said that we took several tough votes this past session. Well, you can repeat this, I didn’t take one tough vote.”

Shadoin and Jefferson were on the agenda to give a legislative update.

In school board business, the board voted to unanimously adopt the proposed 2016-2017 budget. In response to a question from this reporter, Business Manager George Murphy said that about 75 to 80 percent of the $80 million yearly is spent on payroll.

Assistant Superintendent Mary Null reported on the opening of school, and noted that total enrollment is right at 6 thousand students. That represents a decrease of almost 400 students that are now attending Grambling Laboratory Charter School.

The decrease in students will result in a decrease in Minimum Foundation Plan (MFP) funding from the State of Louisiana.

Lincoln School Board to Adopt “Rolled Back” Taxes

09/05/2016

The Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB) will vote Tuesday (September 6) to adopt property tax millages for tax year 2016 that have been “rolled back,” if the board follows the recommendation of the District’s Business Manager George Murphy and Superintendent Mike Milstead.

See here the memo.

The board’s Finance Committee will first meet at 5:45 PM, and review the upcoming fiscal year’s budget.

Agenda
Budget Memo
Beginning Budget (FY 7/1/2016-6/30/2017)

The full board will meet at 6:00 PM.

Agenda

Several reports will be heard, including:

Personnel
Financial

The meeting will be at the Central Office, 410 South Farmerville Stret.

Property Tax Issues Surface

08/23/2016

Some Lincoln Parish taxpaying property owners are beginning to grumble a bit, now that notices are hitting mailboxes showing some assessments increasing 15% or more since the last statewide reassessment in 2012.

Two weeks ago, Lincoln Parish Tax Assessor Sheila Bordelon put out this news release on the procedure for appealing your assessment:

The property values are open for public inspection each year for a period of fifteen days. The 2016 period is from August 15-August 29. All property owners have the right to inquire should they think the market value placed upon their property by the Assessor is in error. Owners should contact the office prior to August 29, 2016 if you have questions. Louisiana law provides that valuation appeals after this date shall not be considered by the Assessor.

So if you want to appeal, you have until next Monday, August 29 to do it.

Physical Address: 307 N Homer St., Ruston, LA 71270
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1218, Ruston, LA 71273
Phone: 318.251.5140
Fax: 318.251.5142
Office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday – Friday.

If you cannot come to terms, there is an appeal process whereby you can present your case to the local Board of Review. In Lincoln Parish, the Police Jury sits as the board of review. The meeting where you can present your case is set for Tuesday, September 13, 7:00 PM, Lincoln Parish Court House, third floor.

Some helpful data can be found at Nolo.com:

Useful Evidence for Your Appeal

In pursuing your appeal, several types of evidence may be useful, including:

A recent appraisal of your home.
A contractor’s report showing repair work needed on your home and how much the work will cost.
Documents showing actual sales prices in your neighborhood, and photographs of homes similar to yours, together with a list of their sales prices or taxable values.

At the hearing, you’ll probably have just five or ten minutes to present your case, so be succinct. Bring extra copies of your documentary evidence so that each hearing officer has a copy. Try to include a chart showing comparative sales prices and taxable values. You may want to arrive early so that you observe – and learn from – other people’s hearings.

You can appeal the local Board’s decision to the Louisiana Tax Commission. File your appeal with the Commission within 10 days after the local Board’s written decision is postmarked, or hand delivered to you.

Next, there is an appeal process to the Louisiana Tax Commission.

Here are the forms.

Finally, there is the ultimate check against taxes: vote against them whenever they’re on the ballot, and actively campaign with your neighbors, family, and friends to defeat them.

As we stated when we first began writing this newsblog over seven years ago, government at all levels never, ever does without.

Government can and does take care of itself – it has always prospered and grown, regardless of the local economy and the financial health of the citizens who fund its existence.

Sales Tax Collections Wane @ School Board

08/03/2016

Collections of sales taxes in Lincoln Parish for July, 2016 were significantly lower than the money collected in the same month of 2015, Business Manager George Murphy told last night’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB).

For July, 2016, collections were about $1.6 million, vs $2.7 million in July, 2015. This year’s number is, however, higher than July, 2014’s $1.3 million and July, 2013’s $1.2 million.

See here the tax report.

Murphy said that sales tax collections have always been volatile, and the abnormally high collections over the past several years has been due to extensive oil and gas exploration and production activity in Lincoln Parish. That activity has slowed dramatically over the past year, Murphy said.

But, Murphy added, the district’s fund reserves have built up recently, and should be adequate to handle revenue shortfalls. For example, the district did not pay a “15th check” for 2016, as was done in 2015.

Said Murphy, “Over the years, we have built up a $35 million fund balance. Why did we build up $35 million fund balance? Because, we knew this day would come.”

Indeed, taxpayers shouldn’t shed too many tears over the district’s financial issues. The revised 2015-2016 budget shows total expenditures of almost $84 million. Ten years ago, in 2005-2006, that total was $51 million.

During that ten-year period, the district’s enrollment has remained relatively static, averaging about 6500 students.

Earlier in the meeting, District 7’s Trott Hunt asked Superintendent Mike Milstead about the district’s policy on allowing home-schooled students to participate in extra-curricular sports.

Asked Hunt, “Do we allow the home-study student’s to participate in athletics and extra-curricular activities?”

Milstead said that Lincoln does not, due to insurance and accountability issues.

Asked if the district had a written policy on the issue, Milstead replied that no such document had been prepared.

Interestingly, research reveals that several states have laws that require home-schooled students be allowed to participate. Tim Tebow, a college Heisman winner, was home-schooled and played football at a Florida high school.

Lincoln School Board Tuesday

08/01/2016

The Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB) will meet Tuesday, August 2, 6:00 PM, Central Office, 410 South Farmerville Street.

Here is the agenda.