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?

I feel the main job of the representative is to represent the students, teachers, staff, and administrators in bringing their needs and concerns to the Board for resolution.

The Board should be providing the best tools, materials, training, environment, and support possible to the education system while maintaining their fiduciary responsibility to find the most cost effective way to obtain that goal.

I have attended only 3 meetings in the past 2 years.

 

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

The Minimum Foundation Program method used by the state for successful basic education of elementary and intermediate school students. It is used to calculate the distribution of funds to all public school districts in the state.

The St Tammany Parish School District has 3 main sources of funds with the largest contribution coming from the state. The school system cannot operate without state funds, and the vast majority of those funds fall under this program.

 

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.

Two unfunded mandates are:

A)   Charter Schools – Payments are made by the school district as a per student basis. Students enrolled in the charter school on October 1 are considered to be in attendance at that school whether they complete the year or not, and there is no provision of residence to be considered a valid student. These funds of the operating budget of the district are disbursed by that proportion without any reimbursement.

B)   On the other hand the ban on penalizing students for unpaid school lunch bills is a positive action for the student. The financial impact to that part of the budget seems substantial but the total cost of the program as a whole is 5% of the budget with the total cost of the food itself being 2% of that. The effect n the total school budget if no student paid for their lunch would be .1% of the total budget. That amount could be made up through thoughtful shuffling of discretionary funds.

 

Tammany has an “out of district” policy that states a student must attend the public school in the district where the parent/ guardian owns a home and claims a homestead exemption or has proof of rent or lease.  There have been reported cases in which the policy has been violated.  A by-product of the policy violation is the overcrowding of some schools and under-utilization of others. Do you think anything should be done to balance the enrollment and reduce the need for more buildings? If so, what?

Yes.

Periodic census and redistricting by school capacity and student population distribution should keep the schools in balance. The school districts would assign students to their schools by address with excess openings going to new enrollments.

Students discovered to be out-of-district would be allowed to complete the current term, but their records would be forwarded to the proper school for subsequent terms.

 

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?

My belief is that School Resource Officers(SRO) are in fact armed Peace Officers and you cannot effectively protect 1000 students and staff with one or even 20 SRO. We should be looking at more proactive solutions like Safety Management Personnel(SMP) whose job is to look at any condition that could evolve into a hazardous situation for the schools.

As for funding SROs, increasing school board tax millage is one solution but we could also:
A)   Re-evaluate our priorities
B)   Use taxes available by denying some industrial exemptions we don’t challenge
C)   Adopt a School Program where businesses and individuals provide & physical support to a school of their choice.

 

The Louisiana Industrial Ad Valorem Tax Exemption program allows school districts to reject exemptions that decrease the tax revenue available to the school board. What action, if any, should the school board take in compliance with the current law to adopt new policies and standards for industries seeking tax exemptions?  Do you think the school board should accept or reject most exemptions?

I believe the board should have strict regulations governing exemptions and exemptions should be hard to get.
Industries by their nature have a negative impact on the environment and are a way to fund cleaning up their mess. Rules for exemptions is one way to control the action of industries and taxes are a cost of doing business. So if an industry wants to operate in an area they should follow a strict set of rules or pay the fees imposed on them to operate.

You are denied taxes whether you give an industry an exemption to move in or they choose not to come here because they are not exempt from taxes. The jobs they provide could easily be balanced by other jobs lost because of small businesses being shutdown to make way for the new industry. Trees, birds, animals, and fish could all be impacted by pollution.

Conditions should be:

A)   A commitment to positive participation and support of the community
B)   Positive projects such as recreational facilities open to the public and
C)   Negotiated direct support of schools like donating funds to the SRO program.

Industries as a part of their charters should provide for the good of the community.