St. Landry School Board takes step toward tax vote
By: HARLAN KIRGAN
OPELOUSAS — The St. Landry Parish School Board gave Superintendent Patrick Jenkins the green light to proceed with a plan to raise full-time employee salaries and fund capital improvements.
Students and staff deserve to have good facilities whether they are new or refurbished, he said after the board gave its approval at its Thursday meeting.
Jenkins said he would like to have final decision from the board by August or early fall about a plan.
Jenkins, appointed superintendent in October 2016, first publicly discussed a tax proposal at a Jan. 28 School Board retreat and at a Feb. 2 School Board meeting.
Proposed at this time are a 9.8 mill increase to fund a $3,000 raise for teacher and $1,500 for support staff. Also proposed is a 11.3 mill tax to fund a 20-year $90 million bond issue for capital improvements.
Other goals would be to provide a cost of living increase, improve retention and recruitment of employees.
According to his presentation, the next steps include:
• Determine size of raises and size of capital improvements.
• Develop project list.
• Develop timeline based on election date.
• Develop public information strategy and materials.
• Engage the public.
• Adopt election and bond resolutions.
An assessment is to be made of the school system’s facilities and a demographer is to be employed to help determine growth trends, he said.
There is a possibility that schools will be consolidated and students rezoned, he said.
Jenkins said the numbers he has presented are not final and depend on the outcome of the studies.
The current millage rate is 20.3 and that is down from about 35 mills collected about 10 years ago, he said.
“We are not asking for too much more than we’ve already had in the past,” he said.
The newest building in the district is 26 years old and the oldest, Grand Prairie Elementary, is 104 years, he said.
The cost of addressing facility needs will only increase over time, he said.
Jenkins favors an election in 2018 and stated statewide election dates are March 24, May 5, Nov. 6, and Dec. 8.
Other board action included the following:
• Approved a $79 a day pay rate for substitute bus drivers.
• Approved vision and mission statements and core values for the school system.
The vision statement is: “St. Landry Parish School System will promote excellence in education for all citizens.”
The mission statement is: “The mission of the St. Landry Parish School Board is to ensure high quality instruction while working collaboratively with families and communities to maximize every student’s potential.”
The core values are: Children first; Educate the whole child; Honesty; Integrity; Equity; Character; Community and family involvement; Safety; Accountability; No political agendas; and Excellence.