Superintendent Scott Devillier and Zachary School Board members have announced a series of public meetings to talk about everything from board finances to the possibility of a 1-cent increase in the board’s sales and use tax.

Currently, the tax is 2 cents and the school district has the authority to increase the tax by no more than 3 cents, officials said.

At the Oct. 7 facilities committee meeting and work session, Devillier announced that informational meetings would take place throughout the district and be similar to the town hall meetings held in the summer.

“We’re going to discuss about how financially over the years, cuts from the state level have affected funding and an increase in unfunded mandates have put a strain on the district,” Devillier said. “We want residents to know where the school system is regarding our finances and get feedback because the board will have to decide at the Nov. 13 meeting whether to support a resolution ordering and calling for an election to authorize the levy of a sales and use tax.”

The levying of an additional 1-cent sales and use tax, if the resolution is supported, would be on the March 2015 ballot.

Devillier said he wants the residents to have the correct information before they make any decisions on whether they would support a resolution.

The town hall meetings would also share facts in a presentation about where the Zachary school system has been, is currently and where it’s heading. A question-and-answer session would be part of the meetings.

District 6 board member Jannie Rogers, who resigned at the Sept. 16 meeting, urged residents to attend, listen and voice concerns.

The meetings will begin at 6:30 p.m. and have been scheduled for the following locations:

  • Oct. 20: Copper Mill Elementary, 1300 Independence Blvd. (off La. 964)
  • Oct. 22: Rollins Place Elementary, 4488 Rollins Place
  • Oct. 27: Zachary Elementary, 3775 Hemlock St.
  • Oct. 28: Zachary Career and Technical Center, 205 W. Flanacher Road (Port Hudson)

In other school board news:

PERSONNEL: The employment contract was approved for Zachary High School’s new assistant principal, S. Todd McDonald. McDonald will take on the new role Oct. 20.

The assistant principal’s position came up for grabs when former assistant principal Joe LeBlanc was named ZHS principal in August. Twelve external applicants and six internal were considered for the position.

McDonald, who served in several administrative roles in East Baton Rouge Parish School District, said he is honored to be named the next assistant principal at Zachary High.

“I look forward to working with all the great people at Zachary High School and in Zachary community schools. As a member of this community, I have deep appreciation for this school system and plan on working tirelessly to continue the strong tradition of excellence,” McDonald said in a statement posted on the district’s website.

ACADEMICS: A discussion over what constitutes a C average ensued after Aeneid Mason, the district’s Louisiana Educational Assessment Program’s point of contact, asked the board to approve changes to the Pupil Progression Plan, a comprehensive plan that is aligned with state laws and BESE policies.

Board member Kenneth Mackie said he feels the school district’s C average is too low, academically speaking.

According to Mason, the district’s C average is in line with the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s C average, which is 1.5 to 2.4.

“My only reservation is that I might have to go against this. It’s very low academically. Why are we trying to entertain the lowest C average?” Mackie said.

Extracurricular groups within the district have different standards on student-athletes’ participation, such as cheerleaders, who cannot make below a 2.0, and BETA club members who must make a 3.0 or better.

“For the purposes of pupil progression, all we’re saying is that this school’s C average matches that of LHSAA’s,” Mason said.

Board member Scott Swilley said if more discussion is required, he’d like coaches to sit in on the meetings so their viewpoints could be expressed.

Devillier reminded the board that if a student-athlete is flunking with a D or an F, they’re not allowed to leave school to participate in any extracurricular activities.

The board adopted the changes to the Pupil Progression Plan.

NEXT MEETING: The Oct. 7 board meeting was held in place of the meeting scheduled for Oct. 21 so that members can attend a political candidates forum.

The next work session and board meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. respectively, Nov. 13.