School Board commends Middle Lab Orchestra victory, discusses possible cut backs and financial issues

NPSB-School Board_Orchestra
The N.S.U. Middle Lab School Orchestra visited the Natchitoches Parish School Board at its meeting May 4 to share the good news about their victory at Festival Disney in Orlando, Fla. March 31 – April 1. Festival Disney is the premiere international music festival where seventy-five orchestras, bands and choirs performed with hopes of winning one of the coveted Mickey Mouse trophies.

The Lab School Orchestra was the only middle school orchestra attending so they were moved up to the High School orchestra division. Receiving the highest score, 97.3 percent, of all orchestras Middle Lab won the coveted 1st place Gold Mickey Mouse Trophy.

On a more serious note, at Tuesday’s meeting, May 2, the School Board received recommendations from a Citizens Advisory Committee, led by Chairman Steven McAlister, on possible measures that could be taken to cut or save costs for the system (SEE DOCUMENT BELOW).

While cut backs were being discussed, board member Emille Metoyer questioned the financial feasibility of using Durham Bus Services to manage the drivers of the 10 buses that service the system. At around $500 per day for 180 days during the school year, it adds up to around $90,000 per year. The bus driver base pay is around $18,000. Metoyer asked if the board could look into other services because their current contract with Durham is up on June 30.

“It doesn’t make sense to pay them that much to manage our routes,” said Metoyer.

At Thursday’s meeting Budget Director Steven Solomon said that on the up side, there are only 170 days scheduled for bus services next school year, which will decrease the overall amount of the board’s contract with Durham to around $82,000. While this is still a lot of money, Solomon checked with other services who told him it was too late in the year to consider starting a new contract. There’s not enough time to mobilize a fleet that large.

An agenda item was added to consider approving out of state travel for board members who wish to attend a Southern Region Leadership Conference in Hot Springs, Ark. July 16-18. Metoyer, Steven Harris and Joella Collins expressed interest in attending the event. However, board member Thomas Melder said, “I appreciate that you want to go, but with the tight finances I don’t think we should be spending money on out of state travel.”

A motion was put toward the board to pay for travel  – It Failed.

5 thoughts on “School Board commends Middle Lab Orchestra victory, discusses possible cut backs and financial issues

  1. I am truly sorry that once again there seems to be a misguided interpretation concerning the teacher salary monies that are collected through one of the sales taxes levied in Natchitoches Parish. From the time this tax was first put into place on the voting ballot, it was intended to be used for teachers’ pay. When teachers were asked how they wished these monies to be dispersed, most teachers voted to have it added in on a monthly basis. That wish was not granted. Instead it was distributed twice a year. Since these monies are distributed twice a year instead of monthly, someone benefits by collecting the interest on said funds. As a result of the twice-yearly disbursement, it has erroneously been considered as bonus/supplemental pay. However, this tax is an actual part of teacher salaries and cannot be used for anything other than teacher pay.

  2. I was happy to support the Middle Lab Orchestra in their fundraising for the Disney trip. In fact, my granddaughter is a member of the Middle Lab Orchestra. Mr. LaCour has done an amazing job in not just teaching these students music, but teaching them important life lessons like hard work and discipline. She will be in NCHS Orchestra next year and I will happily support them, too. But let’s not forget Mr. Vogel at LP Vaughn who has created a music program for students and that school and others from scratch.

  3. Thank you, Mr. Katrice LaCour for sharing your passion for music with your eager students. Congratulations to you and your talented students. May God continue to bless you and your students.

  4. Way to go NSUML orchestra! Between the middle school orchestra and Mrs. Olsen’s orchestra at NCHS, we have two examples of shining creative achievement that opens doors for young people in the future. Scholarships, national performance opportunities, and a life enriched by music and the arts. Our school system is very fortunate to have Mr. LaCour and Mrs. Olsen working with our young people. These programs are successful models for schools throughout the country.

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