An Ascension Parish School Board member who wanted to see per diem payments for school-related traveling raised from $50 to $60 has run into an unexpected problem in the form of Internal Revenue Service rules.

Last month, board member said that $50 for meals, when traveling to out-of-town conferences, wasn't enough. She said she thought it should be raised and asked the accounting department to look into it.

They did, and the news they brought back to the School Board’s budget committee this week was that the per diems couldn’t be raised that much without causing some major paperwork headaches.

Wimberly learned from staff members that the maximum per-diem rate allowed by the IRS is $51. Beyond that, it would be personal taxable income for the person getting the expense payment, said Diane Allison, director of the school district's business services.

Superintendent David Alexander said it was the staff's recommendation that the daily meals amount stay at $50 — especially since going up to $60 would mean a huge amount of work for the district's accounting department. Other employees, in addition to board members, sometimes have to travel out of town for work.

But Wimberly, a member of the budget committee, recommended that the per diem go up to the full $51 allowed by the IRS. It will be voted on at a later date by the School Board.

Georgetown renames campus building after slave it sold

Georgetown University this week further acknowledged the prestigious school's historic ties to the American slave trade by renaming a building after afgter one of the 272 slaves that were sold in 1838 to save the school from closure.

The Washington D.C.-based college renamed in honor of Isaac Hawkins, who was the first name listed on documents related to the slave sale.

The sale by Jesuits priests who were running the college at the time gained national prominence last year after a New York Times article revealed that most of the slaves were sold to Louisiana plantations in Iberville and Ascension parishes.

The university on Tuesday held a special dedication ceremony attended by several descendants from Louisiana. The building that was renamed in Hawkins' honor was formerly named after one of the Jesuit priests involved in the sale of Hawkins and his family nearly 200 years ago.

The dedication ceremony was part of a bigger celebration titled, "Liturgy of Remembrance, Contrition and Hope" in honor of the 272 slaves. That day the university also renamed a second building in honor of a free woman of color who was one of the teachers of Catholic black girls in the town of Georgetown.

In a news release this week, the university said the idea to rename the building came out of discussions university officials had with the descendant community and recommendations Georgetown's Working Group of Slavery, Memory and Reconciliation made in a report that's guiding the school's efforts to reconcile with its past.

EBR school system greenlights 

A Baton Rouge charter school that flooded in August has clearance from its landlord, the East Baton Rouge Parish school system, to finish repairs on its own.

Democracy Prep Baton Rouge is operating in one of the three buildings on the former Prescott Middle School campus at 4055 Prescott Road. The school currently has more than 250 students in five grades and plans to add students in more grades, assuming it has enough space.

The parish school system, however, has let Democracy Prep know that it is too loaded down with its own flood repair work to repair two still unrepaired buildings on the  Prescott campus in time for the start of the 2017-18 school year in August.

To speed the work, Democracy Prep is entering into a cooperative endeavor agreement with the school system to hire its own architect and take over the repairs. The agreement also allows the charter school to install temporary buildings on the campus while the two buildings are being repaired.

Domoine Rutledge, general counsel for the school system, said he expects the agreement to be finalized in the next week. He said he does not know how much it will cost. The temporary buildings are supposed to be installed on the property by August, but won’t stay for good.

“Once the construction is complete, the modular buildings will be gone,” Rutledge said.

FEMA will reimburse up to 90 percent of the repairs to the school, which opened in 2015.

Advocate staff writers Ellyn Couvillion, Terry L. Jones and Charles Lussier contributed to this article.