School board remap headed for hearing

By: JEAN L. KAESS

CENTERVILLE — The St. Mary Parish School Board reviewed and tentatively accepted a fourth redistricting plan Thursday.

This version of the plan, according to demographer Mike Heffner, melds the best of plans 2 and 3.

Among the highlights in Plan 4:

—District 4 is expanded a bit to include incumbent Murphy Pontiff in his district, something none of the other plans accomplish.

—District 7 is confined again to the Centerville and Verdunville areas. In previous plans it was pushed into Patterson.

—Districts 5 and 6 are contained in Patterson. In other versions of the plan, they were pushed into western reaches of the parish or the Patterson area was divided among several more districts.

—District 3, currently represented by Ed Payton of Baldwin, now breaks across the top of the parish and encompasses everything north of Bayou Teche from the western parish line to the Atchafalaya River.

Payton was absent from the meeting Thursday and did not send comment for the board concerning the redrawn lines for his district. The board has had copies of these plans for about a month.

After discussing whether any other changes were even possible to fine tune and create a fifth plan, the board set a public hearing for Jan. 12. It will be held at 4:30 p.m., 30 minutes before the board’s monthly board meeting.

In other action, the board heard from Parish Council District 3 representative David Hanagriff of Centerville, who explained a cooperative endeavor agreement request between the school board and three other entities.

Mid-Area Concerned Citizens Inc., a non-profit community organization, has utilized the St. Mary Parish Alternative Program building in Verdunville for summer programs in the past and now wishes to formalize the arrangement. Further, with a relatively new recreation service district in the area, the group will work with them to streamline insurance and other issues.

In return for the use of the school building, the citizens group will maintain the grass. They will utilize the recreation district’s equipment, and so will maintain Verdunville Park at the same time.

Hanagriff said the group also may elect to utilize the building for public speakers, forums and other such programs, all with prior permission of the school system.

With the addition of the group or the recreation district paying for utilities in the summer when using the school building, the board approved the cooperative endeavor agreement.

Finally, the board approved two additional policies relating to legislative updates. The board’s policies must keep up with changes made in the 2011 state legislative session. The majority of those policy shifts were done during the board’s regular meeting Dec. 8.

Thursday’s policies concerned education of students with exceptionalities and testing programs.

Absent from Thursday’s special meeting were Payton, Joseph Foulcard and Mary Lockley.

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