The Morehouse School Board failed to adopt measures to deal with a $2 million budget shortfall at a special called meeting on Tuesday night.
The sound of silence ... this is what was heard at the Morehouse Parish School Board meeting after District 2 Representative Louis Melton made the motion to adopt the 2013 - 2014 budget.
No one in the full to capacity room said anything as parents and employees sat waiting on someone to second the motion, which never came.
Much discussion has taken place over the past months regarding the close to $2 million deficit budget, but there have been no solutions in how to lower the massive defect.
The Enterprise submitted a Freedom of Information request for any and all salaries paid by the system in the attempt to see first hand the major expense. In doing so, the salaries of teachers as well as those in other positions were studied and questions asked to Superintendent Dr. George Noflin Jr. regarding various positions.
One position brought into question was that of a field house/grounds keeper making a salary of $53,645. The person in this position, Charles Porter, does not have a college degree yet was placed on the salary schedule of a new teacher under the direction of one-time Superintendent Richard Hartley, on July 1, 2004. He is a 12-month employee, meaning his rate of pay is multiplied by 1.333 percent. Under previous Superintendent Tom Thrower's administration, Porter received a $14,000 a year bump in pay. When benefits and retirement are added to the salary, Porter makes $81,000 a year or roughly the collective pay of two new teachers.
Noflin said this happened before his term in office and the question asked by the Enterprise is "Can't he be released?"
Tempers flared and angry words were exchanged in the special called meeting, in which little or nothing was accomplished. Chief Financial Officer Diana Ferschoff, who recently submitted her resignation, gathered her reports and left the meeting before members could get to items on the agenda regarding the budget.
But, this was not the only item of contention in an already stressful atmosphere.
Oak Hill Principal Georgia White asked the Board to reconsider the Superintendent's decision to move one of three fifth grade teachers at the school.
Enrollment in Oak Hill's fifth grade stands at 50 students, which are taught departmentally by three teachers. One of those teachers was told she was to transfer to Cherry Ridge Elementary, where the fifth grade enrollment is at 44 without one permanent teacher.
The teacher in question did not want to transfer there fore she said she would submit her resignation. Personnel Director Prince Ella Williams advised the teacher to wait before submitting her resignation and let the matter be brought before the board.
Both White and Cherry Ridge Elementary Principal Dr. Kathy Adcock-Fonte shared their requests to the board with White asking that Oak Hill not lose a teacher due to the fifth grade being departmentalized, meaning one teacher teaches one specific subject.
Adcock-Fonte said that at the beginning of the year, she had 44 fifth graders and the one teacher she had quit due to personal reasons, forcing her to fill a full-time position with a substitute teacher.
"We have five teachers that will determine the entire school performance score or grade," Adcock-Fonte said. "These are the two third grade teachers, the two fourth grade teachers and the fifth grade teacher, so this is a key position that needs to be filled immediately."
District 7 Representative Robert Fenceroy stated that the resignation should be taken and District 6 Representative Tamika Farrell agreed.
"Personnel decisions are not ours to make, they are the Superintendent's," Farrell said.
"My decision is to stand by Bulletin 741," said Noflin.
Bulletin 741, subsection 913 states, "The maximum enrollment in a class or section in grades K-3 shall be 26 students and in grades 4-12, 33 students, except in certain activity types of classes in which the teaching approach and the materials and equipment are appropriate for large groups."
"If followed, we would be in compliance at both Oak Hill and Cherry Ridge Elementary," Noflin continued.
Due to Ferschoff exiting the meeting, both items 10 and 11were tabled. Those items were to receive information regarding revenue and expenditures for Aug. 2013 and a: resolution declaring a General Fund Emergency and:
Hiring freeze, except for teachers
All travel paid through the general fund stopped until approved by the Board
All overtime and 'extra' pay stopped unless approved by the Board
Elimination of the Civil Rights Officer position
The setting up of an Executive Committee consisting of the current Board's President and the past two Presidents
Establishing a general fund meeting to approve all general fund expenditures