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.