Lincoln Parish School board meets to discuss budget, comment cards

(Photo by Kyle Roberts)

By Kyle Roberts

Tuesday night was a marathon session for the members of the Lincoln Parish School Board as agenda items ranged from reports from the finance committee to bus purchases to methods for public comment for a three-hour meeting.

Prior to the 6 p.m. meeting, Chief Financial Officer Juanita Duke presented a proposed budget for the finance committee, chaired by George Mack, Jr., of District 11, which included total summary of revenue at $113,360,984 and expenditures of $101,813,513 for the proposed budget to end June 30, 2024.

In a breakout of the combined expenditures, salaries and employee benefits totaled 74.8 percent.

“As you can see in this budget, we are heavily invested in the people that do the services that we provide as a school district,” Duke said.

In the unfinished business section, LPSB Secondary Supervisor Ricky Edminston presented the Hill Oil Company bid for gasoline and diesel that was accepted as the lowest bid meeting specifications for the 2023-24 school year. Unleaded fuel came in at .141 per gallon, while diesel fuel came in at .165 per gallon. The majority of the board voted yes to accept.

The policy change to public comment section regarding the use of comment cards was presented next by John Young. A detailed story regarding this item can be read here. After the public comment section, the board members made a majority vote to pull the item from consideration, meaning the comment cards will not be implemented in the near future.

In new business, Lucius McGehee of Argent Financial and Brennan Black of Foley & Judell, L.L.P., presented a Bond Purchase agreement in connection with the issuance and sale of $10,000,000 of General Obligation School Bonds, Series 2023, of the Simsboro School District. In a roll call vote, the yea’s were unanimous (Otha Anders of District 10 was absent).

Also during new business, LPSB transportation supervisor Doc Hoefler asked to advertise for bids for five new or like-new school buses that would have air conditioner. Outside of buses for special needs students, these would be the first buses that have A/C for students. The motion passed with majority voting in favor.

During the reports section, Chief Academic Officer Dana Talley gave updates on 2023 literacy screenings for K-3 with a demographic breakdown that saw vast improvements as compared to state levels with the total population of students going from 60 to 83 percent as reading at the current grade level, while black students saw an increase by 25 percent from 58 to 83 percent. Hispanic students went up 25 percent from 50 to 73 percent, while students with disabilities climbed 23 percent from 34 to 57 percent.

Finally, the school board members went into an executive session regarding a personnel matter. LPSB President Joe Mitcham confirmed that no action was taken in regards to the session.

“We never take action during an executive session,” Mitcham added, noting executive sessions are not available to the public.

The school board will meet again Tuesday, Oct. 3, at noon at Dubach Elementary School.