ST. FRANCISVILLE - Adding 16 instructional minutes in West Feliciana Schools for 2016-17 will make a district that is good dramatically better, Superintendent Hollis Milton told the School Board Tuesday night.
The original plan to make up the four instructional days lost to the August flooding was to eliminate a Jan. 4 staff development day and shorten the Easter holiday, information system analyst Steve Comfort said.
The district, which has 2,152 students, gained about 52 students after the flood, Milton said.
Adding the minutes will cost the district $167,000 for the salaries of the affected staff, board secretary Helen Davis told the board.
The minutes will be added beginning after homecoming Oct. 21 and will affect the end time of the school day, not the beginning. As a result of the extra minutes, the district will have one remaining contingency day.
Because of state requirements about the length of classes at the high school level, two minutes will be added to each class in grades 9-12.
At the middle and elementary levels, the minutes could be used to do intervention for students who might need extra help in certain skills, especially math, Milton said.
The new Eureka Math program at the elementary level is difficult for many parents, so teachers are already doing much of the homework during school.
"That's good and bad. The problem is that when teachers help kids with homework, they lose time for content," he said.
The extra minutes would allow teachers to add some content back to their classes while still giving the students the help they need, Milton said.
Tycer objected to the plan, saying that she worried about children getting home later, especially those participating in tutoring and after school activities.
She also said that some teachers felt like their opinions didn't count and many at Baines Lower Elementary didn't want minutes added to the school day.
Tycer argued for eliminating a staff development day instead.
Staff development is important because teachers have a chance to learn from experts and it shows teachers that the district values them and their professional development, Milton said.
The board voted 3-2 to add the minutes. Sara Wilson-Rogers, Amanda McKinney and Milton Coates voted in favor with Kelly O'Brien and Beth Tycer dissenting.
Helen Whitfield, who was appointed Oct. 11 to her late brother James White's seat, was absent.
A special election will be held March 25 to fill the remainder of White's term, which ends in 2018. In other business, the board voted unanimously to raise the stipends for the 52 coaches in the district, a move that will cost about $37,000 per year.
Previously, the head football coach at West Feliciana High School received a stipend of $5,526, making him the fifth highest paid in surrounding districts. The raise to $6,250 will place the coach's pay third, behind Zachary and Ascension.
The West Feliciana coaches' stipends have not been raised since 2008.
"We definitely feel there was a gap between their commitment and their salaries," Milton said.