School Board discusses technology improvements as Covid concerns linger

Superintendent Grant Eloi gave the Natchitoches Parish School Board an update on Network Natchitoches at its committee meeting on June 2. The board also held its regular board meeting on June 4. Network Natchitoches is a combination effort between the district and the A+ Coalition. There may be a situation next year where the district has to pivot from face-to-face school to online school.

Network Natchitoches will address the fact that 30% of our students don’t have internet access at home. Some of this is because of financial restrictions but the majority is due to geographical location in the rural areas of the parish. Network Natchitoches will install and pay for 130 hotspots with the hope that no student will be more than a few miles maximum from internet access. If digital learning is required next school year due to Covid, students will be given a device to take home. This is part of the district’s goal to have a one-to-one ratio so every student can have access to a device. Families without transportation will be addressed individually. Parents will also receive training so they can help their children.

“We’re trying to overcome an infrastructural gap of billions of dollars,” said Eloi. “I’m excited about this project.”

The district has also expanded its contract with a technology firm so that it will now have a social media/marketing/website worker to handle all social media, website and more, which are all things the district needs for outreach.

In other technology related business the board approved the consolidation of district social media sites and discontinuing other sites. It also discussed adopting an employee social media policy.

“We do not want to censor but we do want to control the image of the school board and make sure our employees are putting the best image forward,” said Eloi. “I think it’s important in this day and age and it’s important with all the things we’re doing moving forward.”

Board Member Reba Phelps said she knows the district needs such a policy, but she suggested they form a committee to go over the policy and tailor it to Natchitoches. Eloi just added that it needs to be done as soon as possible (1-2 weeks maximum) because it’s already an issue that needs to be addressed.

“It’s also a good time to make sure the student social media policy has teeth to it as well,” said Eloi.

With Covid still a serious concern the board approved an alternate calendar in the event that the governor closes school for the 2020-2021 school year. The Louisiana Department of Education has asked the school districts to be flexible with their schedules. There’s worry that the state will be facing a second round of Covid. The idea is to keep the current calendar but have two alternate calendars as backup. Eloi recommended the 19 Instructional Days Recovered Calendar (Option B.2).

The Council also approved soliciting bids before entering into a new contract with ECCO Ride after Board Chairman Billy Benefield said he doesn’t feel like they’d be doing the right thing unless they send it out for bids, to which Superintendent Eloi agreed. Eloi added that ECCO Ride has been good partners for the school district so far, but there’s definitely things that could be addressed and improved upon.

There was one finding in the 2019-2020 fiscal year audit report: management of the capital assets inventory, which has been a reoccurring finding for a few years now. The firm is working on this and its representative said things are improving.

Other business included:

Graduations will be held on June 9, 10, and 11 at Turpin Stadium for graduating seniors.

The board approved the consent agenda which granted permission to advertise for pest control and waste management the 2020-2021 school year.

Approve adding the position of Director of Operations and Director of Academics

Consider dates for LSBA sponsored Superintendent and Board Retreat

Adopt Superintendent’s proposal for summer school

Discuss Cultural Diversity training

NOTE:   The poor audio and constant hum in the audio of the meeting last night originated from the School Board equipment. 

14 thoughts on “School Board discusses technology improvements as Covid concerns linger

  1. They worried about student social media they need to focus on the adults who are supposed to set the example. teachers should not be able post offensive things then go teach these students.

  2. ” make sure our employees are putting the best image forward,” said Eloi.

    Apparently, he’s not aware of the image of some of the employees! One principal has a criminal of assault, been arrested numerous times, filed bankruptcy 3 times, assaulted 11year old student resulted in the board being sued, assaulted a teacher knocking his teeth out, assaulted a pledge in his fraternity resulting in a lawsuit and his fraternity being barred from NSU!

    Has an employee who has been convicted of theft of goods, filed bankruptcy twice, civil judgment for 5556$, two liens for back taxes for 266$, and 6,140$ by theIRS. Termination for inappropriate relationship with students and drugs in neighboring school district!
    Selected as Secondary Teacher of the year and then promoted to Assistant Principal this school year!

  3. This is the second time I have viewed the calendars. Both times, the Presidential election is mentioned as being a school holiday on Monday the 3rd of November. Well, I know the election is on the first Tuesday in November by law. Now looking at the calendar, the 3rd is on a Tuesday, but the calendar states the holiday is on a Monday. Quite confusing to most people. How can this be slipping by whoever sets this calendar online, probably someone from the school board office.

  4. The first option has 2 winter breaks. One in December and one in February. Is the second one really for Mardi Gras? And does it have to be a whole week? Feb 15 -19? How about giving them Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday? Isn’t that sufficient?

    Look at it this way. The kids go to school for 10 days in January then get a 3-day weekend. That’s for MLK’s birthday and that’s how it should be. But then they’re back for only a month before they’re out a full week for the second “winter break” in February. Then in March a full week for spring break. The next month: A 4-day weekend for Easter break. And spring is the time when kids are taking statewide standardized tests. Every month for the second half of the school year, students are missing valuable class time. And what have been this parish’s numbers on those standardized tests?

    If this calendar is the one the teachers prefer, then I’m all for it. And kudos for you teachers who might have stood up and demanded a say in all this. God knows, you all deserve a break for all you have to do and are forced to put up with. But why so much time out of the classroom? Is it because of the ridiculous block scheduling school boards think is so revolutionary? Have any of them ever tried keeping 30 kids occupied for 90 minutes? When the average kid has an attention span of 20 minutes tops?

  5. “Make sure the student social media policy has teeth…” Good for you, Mr. Eloi. A lot of policies regarding students and their behavior have lacked any teeth for a long time now. Thanks and good luck to you.

  6. Wonder what the plan is for parents that work…since a vast majority of kids have working parents?

    • I am wondering this as well – I do not have internet at home.. can’t even get it in my area. It says that times will be restricted to those set by NPSB.. so I have to work all day, go home, get my child to a place during set hours to get work done, come home, cook dinner, etc???

  7. Wow. The COVID 19 partitions are awesome. That is if the microphones are infected. Shouldn’t they have been installed between the board members? Our youngsters could have figured that out.

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