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?

As an elected member of the St. Tammany Parish School Board my duties are to determine policies by which the school system will operate. It is also my responsibility to be visible in the schools, community, and to attend board functions. Further, the board hires the Superintendent and evaluates his performance. Board members should also be responsive to community concerns. I have attended in person most every board meeting held-board meetings and committee meetings-during my time as the District 2 representative.

 

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

The Minimum Foundation Program is the constitutionally provided formula that the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education annually develops to determine the cost of a minimum foundation program of education for the students in Louisiana schools. The formula is then submitted to the state legislature for a vote. It is not amended by the legislative body. The complex formula is important to the school system because it is the main source of revenue. (Followed closely by local support.)

 

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.

With the implementation of high stakes testing, tests will be administered online to students. This has required school systems to increase and update the technology within the system. Funds must be dedicated to provide networking capabilities and computers. State laws requiring safety measures such as lock down drills, the development of school crisis plans, and active shooter drills have been implemented.

While these are necessary (and good) changes, they are still unfunded mandates requiring time and costs to develop.

 

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?

I believe the policy should be enforced regarding students attending schools within the district they reside. We have a waiver system in place to accommodate students and families that have special circumstances and I believe this is necessary. I further believe that it is time to examine school boundary lines to determine if we can reduce/ increase capacity at all schools. This study will let the system know where and if additional buildings are necessary.

 

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?

Hopefully, the community will respond to this important need by voting to include a portion of the funding in a bond renewal which would not increase the millage to the citizens. Additionally, I hope the state legislature will contribute funding for school safety and dedicate it in the law. Local law enforcement is helping to bear the cost of the SRO’s. Also, it will probably be necessary to find a portion of the operating budget to help fund this expense. Like the need for other important programs, funds are dedicated where needed. All sources of funding are examined.

 

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 am aware of this new law, but do not know all of the specifics at this time. It is my understanding that several parish groups must vote on the decision. I will need to research this law before making decisions regarding these proposals. At this time, I would be inclined to not allow the exemptions.