What do you see as the main job responsibilities of a school board representative and how many school board meetings have you attended in person in the last two years?

The school board has the authority to create and appraise the public education system within St. Tammany Parish. They evaluate the progress and improvements of schools as well as being able to develop educational principles and policies. They select the Superintendent of the school district. They establish, approve and evaluate policies relating to the direction of the school district and the operation of the public schools.  They are responsible for making sure decisions are in the best interest of the children & the tax payers. The School Boards highest duty is providing the highest quality education available to our students and to recommend changes in the educational program to the Superintendent based on the progress reports of the schools.  They are also responsible to inform the citizens of St. Tammany and the Legislature of the needs of schools.  Attended 2 meetings in person

 

What is the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) and why is it important to the St. Tammany Schools?

The MFP is a formula used to calculate the costs it takes to educate public elementary and secondary students in Louisiana. These calculations are then used to distribute funds to each parish, city or local school system. It is used to provide equitable funding throughout the state.

It is important for St. Tammany because it helps fund approximately half of the yearly budget and allows for adjustments of funding for special needs, gifted and students with IEP’s and ESL language learners, with weighted amounts per student type.

 

The state has imposed numerous unfunded mandates on the St. Tammany school system. Discuss two of these mandates and how they affect the school-operating budget.

The teaching of Litter abatement requirements for classes between K-5 during science courses is an example of a 2017 passed Bill (HB-111). This seems to be an unfunded mandate as there is no offering of funds to cover costs of materials & supplies that teachers may need to fulfill this requirement. The funds are technically coming from the science budget since the course work is incorporated into science classes.

LA Act 3 of 2012 created a grading system for early childhood education programs throughout Louisiana.  This program has three levels of categories. Type 1, Type 2 and Type 3 programs. The Type 3 programs are for families that qualify for the Child Care Assistance program that accepts public subsidies to assist working families (with 30 hours or more of work/ school per week) and has requirements to meet high accountability standards set forth by the LA Dept. of Ed. This program enables early childhood learning equitable for all socio-economic groups throughout the state and assure all children are prepared for Kindergarten.  No additional funding wasprovided for these childcare centers to implement the additional requirements that had to be in place for the 2015-2016 school year, thus creatingan unfunded mandate.

St. Tammany now must provide the additional funding for these programs, which is coming out of the school system general budget funds.

 

Tammany’s out of district policy needs to be adjusted to make itmore equitable for all students. The transfer in policy as it currently exists puts enormous pressure (infrastructure, overcrowding, etc.) on the perceived “better” schools. Our curriculum is the same throughout the school system.  It is crucial to retain and promote our experienced teachers within our school system.  We need to make sure our teachers with experience can mentor younger teachers and share different techniques that have worked in the past to educate our students and to ensure we have a knowledge hand off, when these teachers start to retire. We cannot have a “brain drain”, which will affect our schools and our students, as these teachers retire.

Our guidelines for enrollment could be increased to include forms of verification that are more stringent (i.e. vehicle insurance / registration with addresses).

 

A major concern to parents and voters is the safety of our children while they are in our care at school.  By the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, all 55 schools will have a school resource officer (SRO) funded by FEMA and the BP oil settlement.  These funds will eventually expire.  Would you favor increasing the school board tax millage to cover this cost or do you have another suggestion for coming up with the money?

I believe it is an important role of the school system to protect our children while they are under our direct care. It is important to have continuous funding for these positions and the protection of our students. A specific millage would allow for a minimum base. Any overages from this specific millage should be placed in an interest-bearing account that would accrue for future usage.

 

The Louisiana Industrial Ad Valorem Tax Emption has recently had revisions made to the program, which only allows the school board to have a yes or no vote for the industrial exemption. This is counter intuitive. Our school systems rely on these taxes in order to fund the school programs. If we give an exemption to every facility, then we are short changing our children. However, if we do no exempt the facility, then the project may decide to go elsewhere.

If a new facility is coming into St. Tammany and they are bringing in a large number (over 100) of permanent jobs or economic impacts. f over a certain threshold, then we should allow for an exemption. And if these facilities exit our parish & cancel their contract prior to their contracted timeframe, then we should be reimbursed the funds that was exempt (catch back).  The increased revenue from an influx of families, be it by home purchase and or sale tax revenue, is not a concretenumber. A bond would cover the additional resources that are being utilized and make sure the existing residential tax payers do not front the entire burden.