School Board debates project to bring counselors into schools

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The Natchitoches Parish School Board met Dec. 8. After a call to order and determination of a quorum present, the board got down to the business at hand. Board members Thomas Melder, Ralph Wilson, Emille Metoyer, Joella Wilson, Steven Harris, Rhonda Guidroz, Mike Hilton, Russ Danzy, Eugene Garner and Harry Graham were present. Board member Carroll Daniels was absent. NCHS Football and Track standout D.J. Rabb gave a “School is Cool” presentation.

The next item, which was moved up, took a majority of the meeting and provided the evening’s controversy. Chris Mudd, CEO of Rehabilitation Services, gave a presentation on a proposal for a pilot project to bring counselors into some of the parish schools. The counselors are paid primarily by Medicaid with some taking private insurance. There are currently eight agencies providing counseling services in the parish. Representatives from two of them, Winterhaven and Metropolitan Circles, were at the board meeting. There was a vigorous debate between the board, teachers and administrators from some of the schools and the representatives of the different agencies. While all agreed on the need for counseling services for students in need, the fairness of bringing in Rehabilitation Services was questioned. It was stated that this gives some agencies an unfair advantage in obtaining clients. The discussion went on for over 40 minutes until it was decided to set up a request for proposal so any agency can apply.

The Natchitoches Central High School Orchestra was then presented to the board by conductor Mrs. Olsen. She introduced the many musicians who have gone on to various honor orchestras. The orchestra then set up in the front and played a piece for the room.

In other business, the consent agenda and finance, facilities, services and insurance reports and executive report were all accepted with each board member voting yes. Of note in the finance report was the approval of one-time MFP appropriations of $583 for certified personnel and $250 for support staff. The personnel report was deferred as Linda Page was on a recruiting trip.

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