Capitol Buzz: Greenstein tells story to grand jury _lowres

Hollis Milton

By a split vote, the West Feliciana Parish School Board approved a new four-year contract for Superintendent Hollis Milton, with a nearly 34 percent increase in pay.

The vote was 4-3 with the majority supporting to raise Milton’s salary from $118,715 per year to $158,000 a year over the next four years. In addition, Milton will receive an expense compensation package of $800 per month, or $9,600 per year.

School Board Finance Manager Ruthie Davis said the new contract is similar to Milton’s original contract except it removes any opportunities for incentive pay as requested by Milton, and it removes the 90-day notification time if he chooses to leave the position. In addition, Milton will receive up to 80 days of paid annual leave if he leaves the system.

Voting in favor of the new deal were members Kevin Beauchamp, Amanda McKinney, Kelly O’Brien and Beth Tycer. Voting against were the Rev. Milton Coats, Sara Wilson-Rogers and James White.

Wilson-Rogers expressed concern about the raise, saying she would rather consider it after the board has an opportunity to hold its annual strategic planning retreat on March 26.

“I’d like to see this come after we have a chance to do strategic planning and know what our finances are and use foresight in finances where I can see it,” Wilson-Rogers said. “I thought this was excessive for a one-time (pay) jump,” considering there is a pay freeze for the system’s other employees.

Coats, who was on the committee with Beauchamp and Davis charged with negotiating the new contract, said he was concerned with the amount of the raise.

Beauchamp countered that with a $25 million annual budget, the School Board could find the money to keep Milton, who has been courted by other school districts for superintendent vacancies.

Beauchamp said the increase moves Milton’s pay from No. 44 among the state’s superintendents to No. 21. Beauchamp also noted that despite the freeze, the district’s teachers are among the top 10 highest paid in the state, and administrators and bus drivers are among the top 20.

“I think he’s more than proven himself. What we’re giving him is his just due,” Beauchamp said. “We want to do what’s right for the system, and it’s something we want to continue.”

In other matters, the board approved a contract with Terracon Consultants Inc. to tear down and remediate the old high school property on Pecan Grove and approved the 2015-16 school calendar. Students’ first day will be Aug. 12 and their last day for the school year will be May 18, 2016. The calendar has 171 instructional days.

The board also recognized the 2015 students of the year: Ngozi Nwabueze for West Feliciana High School, Landry Higgins for West Feliciana Middle and Andrew Dantin for Bains Elementary.