Natchitoches Parish School Board Member Steven Harris was voted in as the Board President for the 2021 year at the Board meeting on Jan. 7. Reba Phelps was voted in as Vice President.
In other business, Superintendent Dr. Grant Eloi said the district is monitoring the weather closely and will make an announcement on Friday, Jan. 8, prior to the end of the day, determining whether or not schools will be closed for Monday, Jan. 11. Northwestern State University just announced it would be closed Monday due to the potential high impact snowfall predicted to occur late Sunday, Jan. 10. Dr. Eloi said that Monday would be used as a virtual instruction day so that schools don’t lose any more of the required instructional time. Students and teachers would attend school virtually from the comfort of their homes.
BESE and the Louisiana Department of Education require a certain amount of instructional minutes per school year. LDOE requires 63,720 instructional minutes for a given school year.
The district lost 5 school days due to weather days (hurricanes) at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. These lost days are equivalent to 1,925 instructional minutes.
In order to be in compliance with the mandatory state minutes required by LDOE, the district must amend its calendar for the remainder of the year.
A survey was published to get input on three calendar options. On closer examination, 11 schools will be okay barring any unforeseen circumstances. That leaves three schools that will have to make adjustments. Turn President’s Day into a “virtual instruction day.” One way these schools can make up instructional time is to have students and teachers attend school virtually from the comfort of their homes on chosen holidays. One school will start school 5 minutes earlier with a slightly reduced lunch and recess (10 min). Natchitoches Central High School will find 25 minutes of instructional time taken from different blocks throughout the day. They’ll also decide which two holidays they’d like to turn into a virtual instruction day as well.
Other agenda items included:
Approve new position of Business Coordinator
Approve NPSB Strategic Plan
Approve a Day of Service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Saturday, Jan. 16
Outgoing Board President Billy Benefield noted some of the accomplishments made by the Board and the district as a whole during 2020 despite the challenges of the coronavirus and some particularly nasty storms.
These include a new Superintendent, a new Director of Finances, reducing the number of uncertified teachers, working to improve numbers on dual enrollment and students earning associate degrees, growing a relationship with NSU, and bringing fiber cable to the Goldonna community.
Finance Director Lee Waskom explained that the district has the opportunity to contribute 10% toward laying fiber all the way to Goldonna. This will bring the community into the 21st century with their internet and telephone service.
“We need to celebrate our successes,” said Outgoing Board President Billy Benefield. “I think we’ve done a great job in 2020.”
Superintendent Dr. Grant Eloi said he can’t wait to see what the next year has in store for the board and the district.