School Board rolls ’08 millage rates forward

Aaron Looney

The Ascension Parish School Board voted Tuesday to roll forward its 2008 millage rates in an effort to reduce a budgeted $5 million deficit.

The vote came during the board’s meeting Tuesday evening in the Parish Council chambers in Gonzales

Kathy Hebert, the school system’s director of business services, said that the district’s budget already included approximately $1.2 million in revenues expected from rolling the millages forward. She said those dollars would go to help shrink a budget deficit of around $5 million.

Bridget Thomas, who spoke on the matter during the public comment period, said that while she supported rolling the millage rates forward, she also would like the board to consider using a portion of the revenue to pay teachers who work in the Donaldsonville and East Ascension high school feeder systems. Thomas said that she felt the funds could be used as an incentive to draw teachers to the systems, which both have high at-risk student populations.

After Hebert’s presentation and the board’s subsequent vote, the board later voted to accept Hebert’s retirement, effective Dec. 31.

“It’s impossible to put into words what she has meant to this school system,” said Superintendent Donald Songy.

Hebert’s retirement will end her 20-year career in the school system.

The board also voted to approve a change order in the amount of $231,450 for changes to the driveway design for Spanish Lake Primary School, currently under construction on Bluff Road in Prairieville. The changes will move the openings of two driveways further south on Bluff Road.

The move came after state Department of Transportation and Development officials told the school district that there was not a clear line of sight from the driveway onto Bluff Road.

During the board’s Facility Management Committee earlier in the evening, the committee considered another design option for the changes. Planning and Construction Director Chad Lynch said that while the second option had a lesser cost at $163,114, the first option allowed an increased volume of between 40 and 50 additional vehicles to line up in the driveway. Lynch said this would lessen the risk of traffic congestion on the road during peak drive times.

In other matters, the board:

• Honored its Teachers of the Year, presenting the educators with certificates and the three districtwide winners with plaques.

• Voted to hire Lakiesha Dixon as an assistant principal at Lowery Elementary School and Larry Williams as an assistant principal at Donaldsonville High School. Williams will serve only for the first semester of the school year.

• Learned from Songy that as of Aug. 18, parish schools had an unofficial enrollment of 18,693 students, an increase of between 200 and 250 students from last year at the same time. Songy said that the system will release more concrete enrollment numbers in October.