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|School board changes policies on busses|
The Franklin Parish School Board voted to change two policies regarding school busses at its regular meeting Monday night.
Board members voted unanimously to consider a policy limiting the time for which a parish-owned school bus could be loaned to a contract driver.
Benton Moore, director of transportation, offered a policy amendment for consideration by the board to limiting the amount of time a contract driver can borrow a parish bus to 14 days. The policy will also require that buses be returned in the same condition with the same amount of fuel in the tank.
"Most of the time a driver needs to borrow a parish bus because their's is in repair," said board president Eddie Ray Bryan. "But there are a few instances of abuse."
"To make it fair to everyone, a time limit of 14 days has been proposed for every driver who borrows a parish-wide bus," said Moore.
Virginia Whitten of the school board office addressed the board regarding the insurance deductibles of bus and truck insurance for the school system.
"The current deductible is $100 per bus, though we usually pay small claims out of the general fund," said Whitten, "without a major catastrophe such as a hail storm, we could save a lot of money in premiums by raising the deductible to $500."
"The more claims we file, the more the insurance premiums go up," added Moore. "To keep them from going higher than necessary, it would be good to limit the deductible to $500." The board unanimously approved the motion.
Franklin Parish School Board Superintendent Dr. Lanny Johnson announced to the board in his report on Monday night that a new online program will soon be offered called "J-Parent."
"Through this program, parents can access their child's school records online. Information such as grades, referrals and absences will be posted and available at anytime," said Johnson. We hope to have it up and running by the time school is out."
Agriculture extension agent Carol Pinnell-Alison updated the board on the activities of the parish 4-H students.
"Four-H students were very busy in January. They participated in the Ag Expo and the Ag Adventures at Delhi as well as the Delhi livestock show. And I'm pleased to report that several local students won blue ribbons in their division," said Alison.
"We will also be celebrating 100 years of 4-H on Feb. 12 with a reception at the extension office inside the courthouse from 3:30 to 6 p.m. Past and retired extension agents and 4-H leaders have been invited to come and share stories of the 4-H history in Franklin Parish. We'd like to invite everyone out to enjoy some cake and punch with us."
For the business portion of the meeting, Pam McBroom offered the Head Start Report.
"At present, we are in the middle of a community assessment and a self-assessment. We are getting input from the staff, community, board members and quality council to help us out with assessing the program to find out what is working well and where improvements are needed," said McBroom. "The information and data collected from these reports are used to work on developmental agendas for next year, program improvement plans and training and technical assistance plans."
McBroom also reported a couple of deficiencies in the ongoing audit.
"The Cat and the Hat" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" are two movies that had to be removed from the video library at Head Start due to their PG rating.
Whitten also addressed the board regarding the 403(b) retirement plan.
"The Internal Revenue Service is in the process of enacting a series of restrictions on the 403(b) retirement accounts," said Whitten.
"The burden will soon be on the school system for the responsibility of this money, even though our only role is to deduct it from the salaries. There are a lot of other types of retirement plans out there that the employees may be interested in," said Whitten.
"If we decide not to handle the 403(b) payroll deductions, that doesn't mean an employee can't have a 403(b) account, it just means they will have to make the deposits in it themselves rather than a deduction from their salaries," said Johnson.
"We're the middle man and we need to be taken out of it," said Bryan.
Dorothy Watson, testing coordinator for Franklin Parish, requested a motion from the board members to approve the testing security policy outlined by the state of Lousiana.
"Standardized testing will begin Feb. 11 with the LAA testing of special education students. March 10, we'll begin LEAP, iLEAP, GEE and course tests for the high school students.
"I'm asking the board to approve the policy which states Franklin Parish School Systems will follow the testing security policy that the state recommends so that we can insure the curriculum teams and tests coordinators that all of our schools will adhere to that policy." said Watson.
Dr. Johnson addressed the computer shortage for these standardized tests at the high school. "By 2011, all high school students will take these tests online," said Johnson. "We are working on purchasing 100 new computers for that purpose as well as expanding the computer labs to accommodate them."
By unanimous vote, the board approved an agenda proposal to advertise for bids for Franklin Parish High School and Crowville School restrooms.
With a two-thirds vote by board members, Richard Kelly offered a motion to add discussing a policy change for employee sick days on the next agenda. Board member Jesse Young seconded the action and the motion carried.