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EPSB punts on salaries, approves other issues

The majority of the Evangeline Parish School Board meeting Wednesday was conducted under the veil of an executive session regarding the salary schedule for employees.
Board attorney Bob Hammonds recommended the board go into executive session because of, what he called, “threatened litigation with regard to supervisor pay.”
As Hammonds told the board, a demand letter was received at 4:11 p.m. that afternoon from the Johnson Law Firm in Lake Charles. The letter was in regards to “litigation against the board in connection with” the salary schedules.
The issue deals with unclarity surrounding the salary schedule for teachers and the accompanying index schedule for supervisors and principals which the board approved last June.
After the executive session ended, Board President Wayne Dardeau stated, “there will be no action on this item tonight because of further investigation.”
The board then heard input on the issue from Rufus Searile, Yvonne Johnson from the Louisiana Association of Educators, and high school supervisor Johnny Deshotel.
Superintendent of Schools Darwan Lazard then floated the idea of establishing a committee of employees much like the board did in 2015.
“The committee will get together and will actually review the current salary schedule that is in place so we can have something to go forward with,” stated Lazard.
He continued, “It probably is a good idea for us to revisit this periodically. The structure in place today has been in place for the last five years. That would help bring some clarity to the issue and bring us all on the same page. A group of employees from a cross section of this district would be representative of our employees and will help to resolve this issue in a positive way that will be for the good of our employees and the good of our district.”
Superintendent Lazard added the committee will work with the board attorney.

Voting to approve free dental screenings and a pilot program for fans in unairconditioned school gyms was the Evangeline Parish School Board as it met Wednesday.
As Brooke Voorhies from AHEC of a Smile explained, the funding for the dental screening comes from money received from Blue Cross and Blue Shield. What ensued was the creation of a school based dental clinic which will provide “free dental screenings for all first, second, and sixth grade students.”
“We will come into the schools with a volunteer dentist,” Voorhies explained. “The dentist will examine each student who participates in the program and will rate them on different levels. Once the dentist has seen them, they will move on to the dental hygienist who will place sealants on their molars that have no cavities. Each student who participates will receive a fluoride varnish on their teeth.”
Voorhies further explained the students will also receive dental education along with toothbrushes and toothpaste. Students not in first, second, or sixth grade could also receive the dental education along with the toothbrushes and toothpaste if the schools approve doing so.
“This is up to at least $100.00 worth of free dental care,” said Voorhies.
She added Evangeline Parish is the first parish to implement this program.
Discussing the fan program in the gyms was Mike Holt from Alexandria. The program entails installing fans in the six unairconditioned gyms in the parish.
As Holt explained, there are two types of fans for the board to consider.
There are 6 1/2-foot vertical portable fans which, according to Holt, “throw a breeze 400 cubic feet per minute which is a hair blowing breeze between 40 and 60-feet.”
There are also the overhead fans which are 24-feet across. “There are several of the gyms that are capable of having the overhead fan system installed,” Holt said.
For example, Holt used the Vidrine Elementary gym which has the highest ceiling height.
Holt further explained each type of fan costs in the neighborhood of $6,000.00. However, the overhead fans will incur added costs of electrical installation.
“The good thing about these things is if you started this program and, at some point down the road whether is because of manna from Heaven or somebody winning the lottery, and we get to air condition these gyms then you would not have spent bad money for good,” Holt expressed.
“These are only going to enhance and help any air conditioning systems that you eventually put in these gyms because they will never quit doing what they’re supposed to do.”

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