School makeup days set


Junior high and high school students will have to attend school March 21 to make up one of the three days lost to winter weather in January.
For elementary school students, it will remain a parent-teacher conference day, the St. Mary Parish School Board decided Thursday.
While elementary school students will still exceed the minimum number of instructional minutes this year, junior high and high school students needed the extra day to ensure adequate instructional time prior to end-of-year testing, Assistant Superintendent Keith Thibodeaux said.
The other two days are being made up by using extra instructional minutes already built into the school day at all levels.
Since Hurricane Katrina, principals have been instructed to construct their school day to include a few extra minutes in classes. These minutes build up over the course of the year and add up to a day or two of instructional time that can be used to meet state minimum requirements if school has to be canceled for inclement weather, Thibodeaux explained Thursday.
The school board voted to approve the plan using two days of minutes along with changing March 21 from a parent-teacher conference day to a full school day for junior high and high school students to make up for the days missed Jan. 24, 28 and 29.
Also Thursday, the school board approved the 2014-15 school calendar.
The first day for students will be Aug. 7, with teacher in-services the two days prior. Parent-teacher conference days will be Nov. 4, an election day; Jan. 5, 2015, also the day the fall session officially ends; and March 13, 2015.
The Easter holiday and spring break are scheduled back to back again for the coming school year, April 3 to 10, due to spring testing dates. Those are March 2 to 27, 2015, for Phase I and April 27 to May 22, 2015, for Phase 2. The final day of school is May 26, 2015.
In other action, the board:
—Spent nearly an hour in an executive session to discuss potential litigation over Section 16 property and received a report from the law firm of Jones, Swanson, Huddell and Garrison which was hired to study potential environmental problems on all Section 16 lands in St. Mary Parish.
—Superintendent Donald Aguillard asked the board to consider funding two projects in the upcoming budget cycle. He said replacement of the camera systems in all 61 regular education buses utilized by the school district would cost about $125,000 and improve security.
—Aguillard proposed launching a Learning and Instruction with Tablets Initiative in St. Mary schools. The first phase would take $225,000 out of the textbook budget, which Aguillard said is not needed for purchases this year, and use about $150,000 of that toward funding grants for 10 classrooms in the parish. Each of those teachers would get a tablet for each student, at the same time building a corps of teachers who can act as technology leaders. The remaining $75,000 would be kept in reserve in the following year. The superintendent said it is not feasible at this time to deploy a tablet to each of the system’s 9,000+ students for a variety of reasons. He proposed instead “starting small and building.”
—Learned that sales tax collections are running 21 percent over budget predictions for the current fiscal year. Chief Financial Officer Alton Perry said seven months into the fiscal year, collections are $12.69 million versus the budgeted $10.45 million.

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