Newly hired School Superintendent Kevin Lemoine was able to shave off nearly $1.3 million in expenditures from the 2015-16 proposed $22.2 million budget for the Pointe Coupee Parish School District.

School Board members rejected a previous spending plan, primarily from former superintendent Linda D’Amico, which included a projected deficit of nearly $630,000 for the upcoming school year.

Lemoine, who took the reins as superintendent July 1, accomplished what he did mostly through a reorganization plan for the district’s Central Office, which will mean nearly $500,000 in savings.

Lemoine also saved more than $740,000 through cuts in faculty and support staff throughout the district — without any proposed cuts to teachers.

“We wanted to cut where we felt we would feel the least impact to instruction in the classroom,” Lemoine said. “And I just didn’t want to cut any teachers.”

Lemoine’s plan received a warm reception from board members and the community when he presented it at last week’s School Board meeting.

Lemoine was further praised when he also revealed two new disciplinary alternative programs that will offer students continued educational opportunities despite in-school suspensions.

“The community is very understanding of the decisions he’s had to make, and that’s important,” board President Frank Aguillard said. “When you can propose reorganizing the entire school district and get the unanimous support of the School Board, that’s something. We all see the energy he has.”

Lemoine’s Central Office revamp does away with the previous structure that placed the school superintendent at the head of an organizational chart packed with 12 same-level supervisors.

“That model placed too much burden on the superintendent to know what all 12 people are doing,” he explained.

Instead, Lemoine has created four director positions — chief fiscal officer, director of human capital, director of accountability/IT and chief academic officer — which will oversee supervisors for five different departments.

The school district offered retirement incentives to five employees and four will either be reassigned within the district or laid off, he said.

Lemoine says the changes will streamline services and help the district’s five schools by focusing on support services instead of school oversight.

The School Board gave Lemoine permission to create a new assistant superintendent’s position that he says will be responsible for troubleshooting problems within the Central Office, leading the district in Lemoine’s absence and picking up the duties formerly assigned to several of the positions he cut.

Because the district can’t afford to fill the position permanently, Lemoine said he will move someone into the role to serve on an interim basis.

“I think we’re on a new horizon here. Every organization has to have a hierarchy,” board member Anita LeJeune said at last week’s meeting. “I think this new plan will lead to some good things.”

Another big change coming to the district this fall is a Saturday School Behavioral Clinic and Short-Term Suspension Center.

Lemoine is hoping both ideas will improve student behavior and decrease the district’s in-school and out-of-school suspension rates.

The Saturday Behavioral Clinic will give students the opportunity to remove in-school suspensions from their discipline records for infractions like excessive tardiness, getting caught for using cellphones on campus, cheating or dress code violations.

The Short-Term Suspension Center, which will be located at the Central Office, will give students the option to continue working on class assignments in a controlled setting during the days they were temporarily ejected from school.

If a student attends the center on all of the days he is assigned, he will be allowed to make up any missed work and/or tests when he returns to regular classes.

“Every recommendation he has made has passed unanimously,” Aguillard said. “He helped build the No. 1 school district in the state. That’s why we elected to hire him. The board is going to give him every opportunity he can to move the school district in the right direction.”

Follow Terry Jones on Twitter, @tjonesreporter.