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 main job responsibilities of a school board member are:

A) Represent and serve our constituents. We are their voice on the school board.

B) We are responsible for hiring the School System Superintendent. This includes annual evaluation and performance.

C) The continual involvement of advocating for the needs of our students.

D) Review, author and approve board policies and resolutions.

E) School Board members are District Legislators with the responsibility of reviewing state resolutions, bills and laws that could affect our students success. We are in communication with state and national legislators on a regular basis.

F) Review and approve our budget on an annual basis. Also review other school fiscal needs on a monthly basis, or sooner if necessary.

G) School Board members are a part of a larger team that is responsible for the success of every student, every day. We must never forget that our students are our future and must truly succeed in all they plan to accomplish.

STPSB Central Office has documented my attendance at 98 school board meetings. I also have attended meetings with constituents. Additionally I have attended many school and non-school events throughout St Tammany Parish.

 

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

The Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) is Louisiana’s share of educational costs toward each student. Louisiana gives St Tammany School System $5,623 per student and St Tammany Parish pays $3,703 per student. This is $9,328 which has been budgeted for. However, the actual cost per student is currently $10,511.

 

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.

St Tammany Parish School Systems has two major unfunded mandates. They are: Employee health insurance and employee retirement. Currently, employee health insurance costs our school system 63.5 million dollars, with 80%+ coming out of the school board budget. Teacher and employee retirement is 59 million dollars, of which 14.13% comes out of the STPSB budget.

 

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?

A student must attend a public school based upon their residence school boundary. Proof of residence is required to be provided prior to enrollment in our schools. On a case by case basis, some exceptions to a student attending an out of boundary school, may be considered as necessary for domestic reasons. Yes, this does put pressure on some schools, leading to over crowding, or under utilization in other schools. However, we follow-up on “out of district” students reported to us, that may be in one of ourschools for athletic purposes only. We must adhere to our out of district policy.

 

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?

A few years back, we completed perimeter fence protection for the majority our schools. As the attacks against students has continued throughout our country, we“armed” all 55 schools starting with the 2018-2019 school year. As current funding for(SRO’s) School Resource Officers will eventually expire, I don’t see the tax base, or sales tax income increasing at a rate to meet the cost of “SRO” protection. Additionally, we also have Mental Health Providers assigned to every school to help with crisis prevention. Although I am not in favor of increasing the school board tax millage, it may be the only option available, but must be approved by the voters.

 

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?

Recent authority has been given to school boards statewide to allow them to vote on these decisions. Any entity that is requesting the ITEP (Industrial Tax Exemption Program) is reviewed, on a case-by-case basis, as to whether to accept or reject the application requested. St Tammany Parish School Board is in the process of securing guidelines and adopting a policy regarding Louisiana Industrial Ad Valorem Tax Exemption.