By Kyle Roberts
In its August session on Tuesday, the Lincoln Parish School Board adopted multiple policy revisions mandated by the state, while also tabling a vote on public comment participation to next month’s meeting.
After the agenda was approved, assistant superintendent John Young brought forth the policy revisions in regards to the unfinished business from last session, which includes the public comment change discussed in the last school board meeting.
David Ferguson of District 2 requested that the vote on the public comment item be tabled to September’s meeting, citing three absent school board members (Donna Doss, Dr. Danielle Williams and Hunter Smith were not present).
“I think everybody should be here to vote on this item,” Ferguson said. “I think they should all be allowed to express why they vote ‘no.’ So all I’m asking is that we postpone it. You vote the way you want, but let all 12 of us show if there’s unity or not and let the public see what is happening.”
The motion passed 6-3 and will mean the public comment vote will come in the September session.
For the remaining unfinished business, the school board unanimously passed the revision to allow trained staff to administer Naloxone in the case of an emergency overdose situation with a student.
In new business, school board members were presented with policy revisions and additions due to outcomes of the Regular Session of the 2023 Louisiana Legislature.
- BCBI-Public Participation in School Board Meetings (revision): the legislature requires each public body with such capability to allow a member of the public with a disability recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act or his/her designated caretaker to participate in meetings via teleconference or video conference.
- BCAD-Teleconference/Remote Participation in School Board Meetings (revision): policy has been revised to reflect statutory language included in La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 42:17.2.1, which states that a member of a public body with a disability recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act shall be allowed to participate and vote in a meeting via electronic means
- EBBB-School and Student Safety (revision): policy has been revised to include a new statutory definition for “risk is imminent” as well as to reflect changes to reporting requirements
- EDCC-Carpool and Bus Line Safety (new): establishes policies for carpool and bus line safety for any school that includes any of the grades K-5
- IDCJ- Continuous Learning (new): provide guidelines for required instruction to students in time of extended school closures
- JB-Attendance (revision): BESE now requires that provisions for taking attendance for remote or hybrid instruction be included in policy
- JBD-Student Absences and Excuses (revisions): Act 318 added a new provision that allows three days of excused absences related to students’ mental or behavioral health, if certification is provided.
All policy revisions were unanimously adopted.
During the report section, Chief Financial Officer Juanita Duke spoke about the rising costs of property insurance premiums, citing the increase in tornadic storms and the hurricanes in recent years.
Last year, the premium for $239 million in insured property was $995,000. This year, the premium increased to $1.13 million for $100 million in insured property.
The current total replacement value for Lincoln Parish Schools is $310 million.
“It’s not just here,” Duke said of rising premiums. “It’s our neighbors, parishes in the south; everybody is struggling for property coverage now.”
Randy Graham of the Lincoln Agency spoke further into that point.
“There’s been a strong tightening of the market in the state of Louisiana,” Graham said. “Really, in the gulf region: Texas to Louisiana to Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia to Florida to South Carolina because of the storm issues and because of the climate issues that are occurring.
“The last six or seven years in our region has been extremely poor results as far as the insurance market is concerned. You’re seeing companies that have really tightened their underwriting guidelines.”
It was determined for Lincoln Parish that a reasonable loss limit would be $100 million dollars, resulting in a 34 cent rate per 100 for the school board.
“It’s a testament to how the school board has managed and handled their business,” Graham said regarding the rate. “Some parishes have rates as high as $0.57 per 100, and some parishes have determined that they can’t buy insurance.”
The school board will meet again Tuesday, Sept. 5, at 6 p.m.