Louisiana R-II has clean audit, Middle School students show improvement

Josh DePriest, left, at a school board meeting in 2018. File photo

LOUISIANA – The departure of Louisiana R-II Board Member Josh DePriest leaves the school board looking to fill his position.

DePriest’s resignation took effect at the board’s Wednesday, March 25 meeting.

A letter from DePriest said he was resigning because his increasing responsibilities elsewhere made it impossible for him to continue on the the board.

“My other commitments have become to great for me and the unwillingness to reschedule meetings has left me unable to fulfill the requirements of my position on the board, and I feel it is best for me to make room for someone with the time and energy to devote to the job,” DePriest wrote.

“It has been a pleasure being part of the school board. I am so proud of all we have accomplished in the time I have served, and I have no doubt the board will continue these successes in the future,” DePriest added.

DePriest also passed on his thoughts on the school’s football program.

“I wish you all the best when it comes to our football program, but I do ask that you don’t sacrifice all the programs we have to try and fix another. Remember, you can’t force a culture, you must nurture it and it takes time,” DePriest wrote.

The board is looking for applicants to fill DePriest’s seat. District residents can call the district central office at 573-754-4261 to arrange a chance to pick up an application. The board will accept applications until 3 p.m. April 15.

The board will consider the applications at its Wednesday, April 20 board meeting.

Four-day week conversation will kick into gear this summer

At the moment, coronavirus dominates the agenda for the district, as it has for other organizations in Pike County. At Wednesday’s board meeting one board member, Jenna Loveless, video-conferenced in, and the usual seating arrangements were disrupted to allow for the reccomended 6 feet of distance between board member and attendees.

The meeting nonetheless touched on the district’s future — including the possibility of a four-day week. Smith told the board he hoped to being holding informational meetings and other forms of outreach about the proposal starting in the summer.

At the earliest, the new schedule would be implemented the school year after next.

Smith has previously told the board he believes the major advantage of the four-day week to Louisiana to be the more attractive prospect it offers teachers. With major hiring needs in the offing for the district, Smith expects the district to go into the summer with a better sense of where it will be on teacher recruitment under the status quo.

“We want to feel the ground,” Smith said. “We’re going to get a good taste of it — we have 10 teachers to hire this year, and it’s going to be tough going.”

Budget relatively untroubled by virus

District employees are still being paid while the district is out of session, Smith told the board Wednesday. Work still needs to be done around the district, including food deliveries and keeping the school buildings disinfected — and keeping employees on payroll means they won’t have found other jobs when school comes back into session, according to Smith.

“We’re really not having to spend anything extra. That’s one of the places where we have an advantage over a conventional business. We budgeted this, we know what our income is,” Smith said.

Smith said the school’s off-site meal distribution and the beginning of remote learning seemed to be going well.

“It’s uncharted territory, but everybody’s willing to pull together and is doing a nice job,” Smith said.

Will buy new bus

The board voted Wednesday to accept a $103,920 bid for a new school bus to be delivered in July. That cost will be defrayed by a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, which requires the district to destroy an older bus in their fleet in return for the money.

Board Member Jim York asked district employees to look into the possibility of adding a smaller, less expensive van to their fleet, in the hope that it could serve smaller trips and cut mileage on the larger buses.

Board votes to leave insurance group

Board members voted Wednesday to leave a consortium of school districts that shopped for health care together. The consortium has struggled with disproportionately high health care costs for some of its member districts. Louisiana, a relatively healthy district, will now at bids for health insurance outside of the consortium.

Send questions and comments to athorp@pikecountynews.com.

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