Teacher stipends available this week: Board votes to demolish Cloutierville school

Carolyn Roy | NewsEditor
Superintendent Dr. Grant Eloi updated the school board on several subjects during his report at the committee meeting Tuesday. The board had its regular meeting Thursday.
Of immediate concern, according to board member Steven Harris, was when CIR (Comprehensive Intervention Required) stipends would be distributed. Director of Finance Lee Waskom said the checks were disbursed Wednesday and would be available to teachers this week depending on their bank’s procedures. The stipends ranged from $5,000 to $15,000 depending on effectiveness data and years taught. The board will spend $510,000 on stipends.
The stipends went only to qualified and certified teachers and were funded by the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Act created to alleviate learning gaps created by COVID-19 pandemic.
Eloi said anyone who gets certified and meets the criteria will be eligible to get the full stipend, no matter how long they have been certified.

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Eloi said there are 954 students attending summer school consistently. That is about 16 percent of the system’s student population.
As for the recent ruling by the La. High School Athletic Association (LHSAA), Natchitoches Central and Lakeview will remain in the non-select athletic categories. Schools that have open enrollment or magnet components, of which there are neither at NCHS nor Lakeview, were moved to the select categories.
The system will continue to promote that associate degrees can be obtained and will create a landing, or stand alone page, on the board’s website. At the suggestion of Harris, Eloi agreed that information about associate degrees should be available to junior high students so they can prepare before they reach high school.
On-line registration is being tested and should start up in July. It should take no more than 5 minutes as compared to hours of in-person time and can be done on a smart phone. There will be locations where parents can go for assistance.
In old business, the consensus appeared to be that Cloutierville School should be demolished, including the gym. Waskom told the board he needed guidance since the board first voted to demolish the entire school. But after a site visit by some board members, Waskom said there seemed to be different thoughts.
Emile Metoyer, who represents that district, said if everything but the gym were demolished, and later it was decided to demolish the gym, there would be more costs.
Russ Danzy agreed with Metoyer. He said if the entire structure were demolished, the board would then have 13 acres of valuable land. “I can’t see anyone having the money to save it,” Danzy said.
The board voted unanimously to demolish the entire school with Metoyer and Phelps voting against the action.
Felicia Washington, transportation supervisor for ECCO Ride, told the board that calls about summer school had leveled off and most of the calls she was getting were about the next school year. She has four drivers getting CDL training. She lost five drivers, three of whom had medical issues and two who retired. The minimum age is 21 and inexperienced applicants can receive in-house training.
Washington said that so far, soaring fuel prices have not affected the supply.
Although there was a $2.6 million increase in sales tax revenue over last year, Waskom cautioned the board that he believes sales tax revenue has peaked. This month there was a 3 percent growth and he expects it to remain about the same through June. He will not include a growth in sales tax in next year’s budget.
Director of Personnel Linda Page and Eloi were excited about the installation of new personnel software that was developed in-house and gives live updates of personnel numbers. Page said the program was amazing and was “better than we thought.”
Waskom said it was also important in managing payroll.
District Technology Coordinator Mike Cozad said the personnel management system was the brainchild of Nick Botteron, G-Suite administrator and network support technician.
Page said the number of non-certified teachers has dropped from 104 to 35.
At the Thursday meeting, the board voted to enter into a lease agreement with Anacoco Towers, a company that wants to put up a cell phone tower on an existing tower on school property. It will provide coverage in a dead area where many people are underserved. The school board will have no liability and the annual fee will be $100.
Waskom discussed a few changes to the new salary schedule brought about by the Governor’s raise of $1,500 to certified teachers and $750 to non-certified and staff. Waskom said there were a few positions inadvertently left off the schedule.
Cozad gave the damage report on electronic devices. Of the 6,812 provided to students, 335 were broken, representing only a 5 percent rate. Cozad said that is only half of what he budgeted for. The 6,812 are more than the student population so it must be considered that students are issued different devices if they change schools. There was a 13 percent lost or stolen rate, or 43 devices. That number is included in the 335. Fifty-eight were considered total losses and 29 percent had only minor damage. Some 3,570 are considered outdated and must be replaced.

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