LAFAYETTE — Where to park, how to log in and cast votes during meetings and brief overviews of school system operations are among topics up for discussion during the Saturday orientation for Lafayette Parish School Board members.
Seven of the nine members who will be sworn in at the Jan. 7 School Board meeting are starting their first term on the board.
The three-hour orientation session, scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon at the School Board office, will cover the basics of what board members need to know as they take office and prepare for their first meeting, interim Superintendent Burnell LeJeune said.
The School Board uses a Web-based software program where agendas and related documents are posted. Board members also log in to the program during meetings and use it to cast their votes.
“We’ll go over how to log in, how to find your packet. This is where you park. It’s very general,” LeJeune said.
The orientation is an opportunity for board members to get to know one another prior to next week’s meeting, LeJeune said, while also getting a general overview of system operations, including the budget and staffing formulas.
He said board members will get a chance to learn more from department directors during a retreat planned from 8 a.m. to noon Jan. 17 at the School Board office.
LeJeune was appointed as interim superintendent last month, days after the board voted 7-2 to terminate then-Superintendent Pat Cooper. He stepped into the position after serving for years as the director of career and technical education and the director of the Schools of Choice program.
Walking into 2015 with a new job and a new School Board, LeJeune said his priorities are good communications between the administration and board, a balanced budget and enhancing curriculum.
“I want them to know that we’re being direct and providing them good information to make good decisions,” LeJeune said. “I want them to feel that they can talk to a staff member and understand something.”
The outgoing board faced tough hurdles in balancing the 2014-15 budget and started its budget planning process with a more than $23 million shortfall. Recently, the board approved a budget revision that totaled more than $6 million to retain staffing positions it had excluded from the 2014-15 budget it adopted in September, about a month after school started. The revision prevented midyear staffing changes. The positions were filled because the school system had been operating at 50 percent of the 2013-14 budget, which was allowable by law when the board didn’t adopt a budget by the start of the new fiscal year on July 1. Cooper refused to implement the spending plan adopted by the board in September due to his objections to the board’s cuts.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.