Washington Parish school calendar up for vote

Published 12:56 am Wednesday, March 13, 2013

By Lucy Parker

The Daily News

The Washington Parish School Board will consider the adoption of the 2013-14 school calendar Thursday night.

The system’s teachers were given the opportunity to vote on the calendar for the upcoming school year, Superintendent Darrell Fairburn said during Monday’s committee meeting. The calendar proposed during the February meeting received 487 votes, while a second calendar that had school open the Monday and Tuesday of fair week got eight votes.

The more popular option includes 64,980 instructional minutes and 171 instructional days, and the other 64,620 instructional minutes and 177 days. Fairburn said the state requires students to have 63,720 instructional minutes. The extra minutes built into the originally proposed calendar equate to 3 1/2 emergency days.

If students have to miss four or more days in the first semester, as was the case this year due to Hurricane Isaac, two staff development days in early January would be used to provide emergency days for the spring semester, Fairburn said.

“We would take two of those days and make those days up in order to give us some time in the spring semester, because it is very difficult, with testing and the holidays we have in the spring, to make up days,” he said. “So that would give us that option.”

The board will also consider the renewal of its property insurance on Thursday. The renewals with the companies used to layer the board’s property insurance, which includes more than $138 million in coverage, would be effective April 1, consultant Tom Hudson said.

Hudson said the board paid a premium of $742,853 last year. That would increase by 3 percent, to $766,042, if the board chooses to keep terrorism coverage and would increase by 2 percent, to $757,859, if the board if it does not take that coverage.

The $5 million in coverage for foreign or domestic terrorism would cost the board $8,000 and is something that was accepted last year, Hudson said. The federal government would have to intervene for an act to qualify as terrorism, with an agreement by the secretary of state, secretary treasurer and attorney general, he said.

Later in the meeting, responding to a question from board member Dan Slocum, Finance Director Beth Keaton said she would not recommend taking the terrorism insurance. In the past, adding $8,000 to a $757,000 policy might not have seemed like a big difference, she said, but that money could pay half of the salary for a paraprofessional.

“We have to save every dollar that we can right now,” she said.

Also up for vote will be the renewal of a three-year contract with Norris Insurance Consultant and a three-year fee agreement with Postlethwaite and Netterville, engaging the firm for the audit of the board’s general purpose financial statements beginning with the 2013-14 fiscal year.

During his superintendent’s report, Fairburn said he has been holding meetings in the community to discuss the tax renewal that will be on the April 6 ballot. More information about the renewal is available on the school board’s website at wpsb.org.

Additionally, Pine High School Principal Jennifer Thomas gave a presentation on the benefits of the ib4e program. The program was implemented this year in all junior high and high schools. As part of the program, 30 minutes is blocked off each day for enrichment classes. During that time, teachers also pull students for one-on-one or small group interventions.