The Natchitoches Parish School Board meeting Thursday afternoon was brief. When questioned about rumors that claimed additional time was being added on the school day for the 2019-2020 school year, Superintendent Dale Skinner said teachers can’t get everything they have to get done in a day, done before 3 pm. Some schools get out slightly before 3 pm, but now all schools will get out at 3:10 pm, unless there’s a special case where they need extra time to get all the students out through car line and busses. Skinner said he’ll get with the principals to see what needs to happen, but that they still have to get in the required amount of minutes for instructional time each day.
Skinner also told the board about repairs that need to be made to the MLK Head Start building. He recently met with the Save the Children organization, which will be taking over the Natchitoches Parish Head Start Program. Skinner suggested entering into a long-term lease for the property as long as it’s used as a Head Start facility.
One item that took a lot of discussion would grant authority to the Superintendent to determine beginning rate of pay, step increases, continued rate of pay and years-experience based on critical need performance.
HR Director Linda Page said long-term subs must work for 30 consecutive days in the same position at a rate of $60 per day. Moving forward from the 31st day the pay rate increases to $168 per day. The problem occurs, for example, when a long-term sub works for 40 days and is placed in a new position and they have to start all over again at $60 per day. This is unfair to them.
Another problem occurs, for example, when a teacher transferring into the system, or a teacher being promoted to a principal, is expected to start at the pay rate for “zero years of experience.” A beginning principal may end up making less than when they were working as a teacher. Or a certified math teacher who also coaches would have to start from the bottom of the pay scale. These situations are unfair.
This agenda item would allow the superintendent to make discretionary decisions based on experience and length of employment.
Board members were cautious of Skinner having this much power. They seemed to be reassured slightly when Skinner assured them Page would be the one to bring matters related to beginning rate of pay, step increases, continued rate of pay and years-experience to his attention.
The board unanimously approved the item with an amendment to include a 1 year sunset date. The board will then reevaluate how this arrangement is working. The board also agreed that they will look into revising the pay scale and any policies that deal with beginning rate of pay, step increases, continued rate of pay and years-experience.
The board approved another agenda item will initiate a labor market survey for the incoming superintendent. This will not begin a search for the new superintendent, but will give the school board an idea of what the pay structure will need to be if and when they initiate a superintendent search.
The board also agreed to bring in a representative from OpenGov to provide them with more information on how the business can help the school board improve its financial transparency. This would help the school board increase the public’s trust in what they’re doing.
Board member Reba Phelps said she received good feedback from community members who are excited by the idea after reading about it in the news media.