The Ascension Parish School Board on Tuesday approved a resolution asking the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to enact a policy that students not be graded with scores of zero if they choose not to take the Common Core tests.

The paper-based PARCC, or Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career, tests students in grades 3 to 8 on how well they know the Common Core curriculum.

Other parishes have sent similar resolutions to BESE, Board President Lorraine Wimberly said.

The resolution notes that current BESE policy says that students not taking the test will have a score of zero, which will not only affect the student but the calculation of the school and district accountability scores.

The board also approved a resolution to issue $34 million of refunding bonds to pay off outstanding bonds of 2007 and 2008 issued at a higher interest.

Bond attorney Jerry Osborne likened the transaction to homeowners refinancing their mortgages. The School Board’s transaction is estimated to save more than $1.7 million, Osborne told the board.

A helpful factor in the approval of the action by the Louisiana Bond Commission, Osborne said, was the School Board recently seeing its bond rating increased by Standard and Poors, a national financial services company.

The board is now one of only four school districts in the state to have an AA rating, Osborne said.

The S&P report cites the district’s historically strong financial position, conservative management and low overall debt.

Also on Tuesday, the board’s Strategic Committee moved to put these items on the agenda of the board’s March 17 meeting for a vote:

The purchase of approximately 6 acres adjacent to Dutchtown High School to provide another entrance and exit for the school.

An intergovernmental agreement among the board, the parish and the 23rd Judicial District Court to house the Families in Need of Services program in a building on the former campus of G.W. Carver Primary School, which got a new home last year. FINS is an intervention program that works with children and families to prevent juvenile court involvement.

A proposal for the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office to lease a portion of the former campus of West Ascension Elementary School on St. Patrick Street in Donaldsonville, a site that’s been closed for more than 10 years, as a satellite location of the Sheriff’s Office.

On another matter, the Strategic Planning Committee voted to continue discussions about future plans for the Head Start program in Donaldsonville to a future meeting.

The School Board is considering whether to renovate the Head Start building at 603 Lee Ave. or build a new Head Start wing at Donaldsonville Primary School on La. 3089.

Board member Robyn Penn Delaney introduced a new idea: asking CF Industries if it would purchase Donaldsonville Primary School, located less than a mile from the plant, and the board would create a new site for the primary school that would include Head Start.

Follow Ellyn Couvillion on Twitter, @EllynCouvillion.