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|School board adopts millages, preps for election|
Ongoing construction at several Franklin Parish schools will mean borrowing an additional $1.5 million to complete the projects.
School board members unanimously approved issuing revenue bonds to finance completing the projects.
Instead of issuing bonds, Superintendent of Schools Lanny Johnson suggested the board look into borrowing the money from a bank.
"The million and a half that we would borrow to finish out our building program should be a direct loan from a bank," said Johnson at the board's regular monthly meeting Friday night. "Banks are reluctant to get involved with QSCB bonds, but there are banks in the state loaning money to school systems."
Board members also approved a request to the State Bond Commission to place a tax renewal on an upcoming ballot.
The board will ask voters to renew a half-cent sales tax to the Nov. 14 ballot.
That tax generates about $1.3 million a year for the school system. Voters last renewed it four years ago.
In other business, the board unanimously approved a measure caring over millage rates from the 2008-09 year.
Parish tax assessor Rod Elrod said there will be no change in the current 15.4 mill parish-wide property tax and a second, 4.53 mill constitutional tax.
Elrod stated a third, voter-approved tax, which was renewed in 2009, dropped from 4.57 mills to 4.45 mills.
That tax will expire in 2018, he said.
Residents of Wisner may soon notice improvements to the old Wisner High School building, thanks to a no-profit organization established for the preservation of the structure.
Wisner Police Chief Billy Cureington was on hand to address the board on the new organization's behalf and to request a cooperative endeavor agreement that will allow the group to start restoration of the building.
"Rather than being an eyesore, this could be a great thing for the town and the parish for community events and things," Cureington said.
Board members agreed with Cureington and unanimously approved cooperative endeavor agreement with the Wisner organization.
In the superintendent's report, Johnson briefed the board on La. State Supt. Paul Pastorek's "Race to the Top" initiative to improve schools.
Some $4.4 billion in federal stimulus funds are on the table for schools that make efforts to raise academic standings.
Johnson said Franklin Parish schools are competing with about 300 other schools in Louisiana for a share of the money, which will be distributed in April of 2010.
"We're waiting to see what the state will require," Johnson said. "It's a competitive grant given by the federal government to states who write the grant."
Johnson cautioned the program could have far reaching issues.
If schools receive the money, they could be asked to make staff or curriculum changes.
"We could also be required to convert schools to charter schools or contract with a private company," Johnson said.
In other news, board members passed a motion to advertise for a lease of pastureland at Turkey Creek in Gilbert.