SPECIAL BOARD WORKSHOP OF MAY 11, 2021 ~ 4:30 p.m.



The Chair called the meeting to order and read the following call: HONORABLE MEMBERS OF THE SCHOOL BOARD

Parish of St. John the Baptist


Dear Board Member:


Upon call of the President, the St. John the Baptist Parish School Board will meet for a Board Workshop at Lake Pontchartrain Elementary School, 3328 Highway 51, LaPlace, Louisiana, on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 at 4:30 p.m.


An agenda for the meeting is attached.



Dr. Lynett Hookfin



ITEM 1.  Call to Order, Invocation, Pledge of Allegiance


The Chair called the meeting to order at 4:43 p.m. She called for a moment of silent meditation and the Pledge of Allegiance.


ITEM 2. Roll Call of Members:


PRESENT:          Sanders, Johnson, Schum, Wallace, Triche, Mitchell

ABSENT:            Holden, Burl, Keller, DeFrancesch, Jones


There were 6 members present and 5 members absent. 


ITEM 3. Public Comment.  Dr. Lynett Hookfin – Discussion of Vendor Contracts


Dr. Hookfin stated that we will dedicate a day (or 1/2 day) to go through the contracts.  Meanwhile, other cost-cutting measures we are taking include:

1.     Sharing supplies between location sites as opposed to ordering supplies

2.     Explore the possibility of an in-house substitute system

3.     Currently vetting curriculum programs


Dr. Hookfin commended the Board for being open to the possibility of cutting some unnecessary contracts.  She also thanked the Board for their leadership. Ms. Mitchell asked for a timeline of going through the contracts.  Dr. Hookfin stated that by the next Board Workshop, we should be able to go through them.  She explained that the current software (Munis) does not categorize the contract payments and that will have to be done manually.


ITEM 4.  Public Comment.  District Financial Updates – Mr. Tommy Naquin, CPA (Postlewaite & Netterville)


Mr. Naquin stated that there is not much new to report on the 2020 audit, although it is moving along, as evidenced in the information that is being requested by the auditors.  The cash balance continues to be low. Sales tax seems to be normalizing as compared to 2019.  As of the end of March, General fund and Special funds have a total of about $9.3 million. Bank reconciliations continue to be done and are caught up on General Fund.  Mrs. Schum asked if we will be able to have a budget in May.  Mr. Naquin stated that yes, we can prepare a budget without the previous years balance, it will just be estimated.  Mrs. Schum stated that she wants to have a Finance Committee Meeting to talk about the numbers for next year. Mr. Naquin replied that we should have something to present by the end of May, that is his goal.


Mr. Jones arrived at 4:50 p.m. and was recorded as present.


Mrs. Holden arrived at 5:02 p.m. and was recorded as present.


Mr. Burl arrived at 5:11 p.m. and was recorded as present.


ITEM 5.  Public Comment.  Saving Our Schools – Ms. Sylvia Taylor


Public Comment.  Ms. Eliza Eugene stated that it was relayed to her that she had offended some educators that work  at Fifth Ward Elementary. She wanted to apologize for that if she did in fact offend anyone, that was not her intention.  She stated that from a financial standpoint, it just makes sense to her to move 400 voucher-eligible scholars from a “F” school to a “B” or “C” school.


Ms. Sylvia Taylor stated that she has a concern for the students at Fifth Ward Elementary because Dupont/Denka has not reduced the emissions.  She stated that this school board cannot continue to ignore the science.  At one time the Board had plans to move these students, but then nothing happened.  She stated that it’s time to move the students.


ITEM 6.  Public CommentRedistricting – Mr. Cedric Floyd


Public Comment.  Ms. Eliza Eugene – Stated that the last time we used Mr. Floyd for redistricting services, it cost the district $24,000 and then the Board had to pay South Central Planning $15,000 to do what Mr. Floyd did not do.  She asked that the Board please consult with legal before hiring this firm.


Mr. Floyd was not present at the meeting, therefore this item was not discussed.


ITEM 7.  Public CommentPhone Conference with State Representatives-SJBP Schools Financial Status and Future State Phone Conferences – Dr. Lynett Hookfin


Dr. Hookfin stated that she had a phone conversation with the financial department at LDOE.  She agreed to inform them in 6 weeks where we are financially.  Mr. Jones asked who initiated the conversation, to which Dr. Hookfin replied that they reached out to request a conference call.  Mr. Burl asked when we would be hiring a CFO.  Dr. Hookfin stated that the state reps recommended we hire a Business Manager and that we are currently screening accountants.  Mr. Burl stated that we need to hire a CFO and a Purchasing Director.  Mr. Wallace asked for an update on the Accounting Supervisor interviews.  Dr. Hookfin stated that the first round of interviews will occur this week.  Mrs. Holden stated that community members are asking to be on the Finance Committee.  President Mitchell stated that she will look at the policy on the make-up of the committee and get back to Mrs. Holden.


ITEM 8.  Public Comment. NIET Redesign Next Steps – Dr. Juanita Hill


Dr. Hill presented the following information:



Extensive discussion took place on this item and it was agreed that more information is needed regarding this program, as it appears that the “no-cost” extension is actually going to cost the district.


ITEM 9.  Public Comment. Teacher Certification Update – Dr. Juanita Hill


Dr. Hill presented the following information regarding teacher certifications:



ITEM 10.  Public Comment. Discussion of Ways to Recruit Certified Special Education Teachers – Dr. Stacey Spies


Public Comment.  Yevette Scioneaux – Stated her concern is great for ESL students because she feels as if the ESL students are being short-changed.  The Hispanic population is struggling and asked what more we could do for these students.


Dr. Spies presented the following information:








Dr. Spies stated that many of our teachers in the Special Education classrooms are actually certified teachers, but not in Special Education.  Special Education is an add-on certificate and we need to do a better job of encouraging them to obtain the add-on certificate.  Discussion was held regarding this item.


ITEM 11.  Public Comment. Discussion of the Staffing Model - 1:22 (K-5); 1:24 (5th-8th); 1:26 (9th-12th) – Dr. Lynett Hookfin


Public Comment.  Cindy Graham – If we need less positions in schools, we need to reduce Central Office positions at the same ratio.


Dr. Hookfin presented the staffing ratio that was approved by the Board.  She stated that the ratios won’t be exact due to Special Education needs, but she is working with the Special Ed Department to do what’s best for our scholars.  Mr. Sanders stated that we are using the same process that we’ve used before, but with different numbers.  Dr. Hookfin stated that it is not what was used in the past, which is why we are currently overstaffed and in the financial predicament that we find ourselves.


ITEM 12.  Public Comment. Discussion on Connections Redesign – Dr. Lynett Hookfin


Dr. Hookfin stated that according to BESE Bulletin 131, there is no limitation on where this program is located.  We have the flexibility to move these students back to their home site and provide the services there, including wrap-around services. Mr. Burl asked if Dr. Hookfin had begun the redesign.  Dr. Hookfin replied that she was waiting on documentation from the state, and now that she has it, she can begin to work with the Board to redesign this program.  Mr. Sanders asked Dr. Hookfin to have a plan on paper before placing it on the agenda for a vote. 


ITEM 13.  Public Comment. Discussion on St. John Alternative Program (Redirect) Redesign – Dr. Lynett Hookfin


Public Comment.  Cindy Graham – There is a one social worker position added for Redirection.  If we cut counselors and share them between schools, how will these students receive the services they need.


Alvin Scioneaux – How will you address the children who are behind on their educational progress if you bring them back to their home school?  What is administration’s plan to deal with these students?


Yevette Scioneaux – Suggestion:  There is a program set up by DA Dinvaut, called “St. John Proud” that the School Board should look into.  St. John P.R.O.U.D (Providing Resources and Opportunities for Upflow and Development) is a crime-preventive initiative which aids high schoolers moving into the workforce.  Dr. Hookfin stated that this item goes hand-in-hand with Item 12, and Mr. Sanders has asked for an overall picture of what the redesign will look like before asking the Board to vote on this item. Therefore, she stated that she will bring this back to the Board’s attention once a plan has been put together on paper.


ITEM 14.  Public Comment. Discussion on Next Steps for Relocating STEM to ESJH – Dr. Lynett Hookfin


Public Comment.  Yevette Scioneaux – As a parent of a STEM student, she asked the Board and Superintendent to please talk to the parents regarding this move.  On the STEM campus, the students are not required to wear a uniform, will that change? 


Alvin Scioneaux – Now that the decision has been made, how will this affect athletics?  Will a WSJH STEM student be allowed to attend school on ESJH campus, but go back to WSJH to play sports.


Glen Chenier – As the principal of the STEM site, there are many questions:  Timeline for teacher materials to be moved to ESJH; will all the technology be brought with us to ESJH campus; will our furniture be brought; resources in the engineering department will need to be moved; where will academic records be kept…etc.


Martha Ross – Where would the 9th graders not in STEM be relocated?


Nelan Taylor – Educator at WSJH stated that at the last meeting it was stated that the parents and educators alike made it known that they did not want this move to be made to ESJH.  She asked why, then, did their wants/needs get ignored?  Why is administration and the board not listening to their stakeholders?


Dr. Hookfin stated that she does plan to communicate with parents at STEM, but the discussion will be about academics.  There are plans to have parent-scholar-teacher meetings in the near future. 


ITEM 15.  Public Comment.  Discussion on Next Steps for WSJE – Dr. Lynett Hookfin


Chantel Walker, Principal of WSJE, stated that she and the principal of WSJH, have been collaborating and working together to come up with ideas to increase enrollment.   Some ideas they’ve discussed are:  Offering Speech, Robotics, Band & Art, Engineering, Computer Literacy as an elective to 7th graders, surveying stakeholders; open enrollment to the east bank elementary students.  Mr. Hill stated that through discussion, they realized that transportation is the foremost important marketing appeal for all grade levels.  One other thought was to offer STEM Program courses to WSJH students through the use of virtual learning.  Dr. Hookfin thanked the two principals for the collaboration.


ITEM 16.  Public Comment.  Discussion on Next Steps for WSJH – Dr. Lynett Hookfin


Principal of WSJH, Claude Hill stated that he and Principal Walker has met extensively to discuss the possibilities of cost-savings ideas. He suggested that east bank parents be invited to come and visit both schools.


ITEM 17.  Public Comment.  Discussion of SHINE Program Staff Pay – Mrs. Patricia Triche/Mrs. Dominique Miller


Public Comment.  Yevette Scioneaux – How will this work for STEM students if they are moving this summer?


Mrs. Triche & Mrs. Miller presented the following information:



Mrs. Triche stated that 1150 students have applied to participate in the SHINE program this summer.  Mrs. Miller stated that this will be paid with through ESSER 3 funding.


ITEM 18.  Public Comment.  Discussion of Survey Results Regarding Virtual Learning – Mrs. Patricia Triche


Public Comment.  Alvin Scioneaux – Please do not pick up laptops too early, as once that’s done, learning will stop.


Mrs. Triche stated that through a survey, it was learned that 910 parents would like to stay 100% virtual for the next school year.  Dr. Hookfin stated that we’ve not decided what we will do as far as virtual learning next year and much discussion will have to take place before a decision is made.


Mr. Triche left at 8:42 p.m. and was recorded as absent.


ITEM 19.  Public Comment.  Discussion on Safe Return to School, Fall 2021 – Dr. Lynett Hookfin


Mrs. Patricia Triche stated that we are in school Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday.  Many school districts are still more than 50% virtual, so we are ahead of the game.  We have to have a plan on our website for the public to view that outlines our plan to return to school safely in the fall, in order to receive our ESSER Funding.


ITEM 20.  Public Comment.  Policy JBCD:  Student Transfer and Withdrawal – Discussion Regarding Possible Revision – Mrs. Charo Holden


Mrs. Holden stated that Policy JBCD is the policy that discusses school transfers.  That policy states that the transfer from ESJH to WSJH is allowed in 9th grade only.  She would like to see that policy changed to allow elementary students to transfer as well as any grade of high school in an effort to increase enrollment on the west bank.


ITEM 21.  Public Comment.  ESSER 1 Reimbursement Update – Mrs. Dominique Miller


Mrs. Miller presented the following information:



ITEM 22.  Public Comment.  ESSER 2&3 Application Update – Mrs. Dominique Miller


Mrs. Miller presented the following information:



ITEM 23.  Board Items of Interest


Public Comment.  Ms. Cindy Graham stated that she needed to respond to the question of what counselors and social workers are doing.  Counselors are meeting with parents, chairing SBLC meetings, helping parents with outside services, meeting with students, walking the campus to identify students who may need counseling, serving as substitutes, etc. Social workers are working in all schools, private, parochial and public, working to do evaluations and screenings, meeting with parents and students, providing services to students according to their IEPs. She stated that it was disconcerting that it was insinuated that this category of people are not doing their jobs.


Mr. Sanders stated it is unfortunate that we are in the financial situation we are in, but as a result we are having discussions that we should have been having for years.  Hearing comments from the public is a great thing, even if it’s negative and he can see the good coming from this.


Mrs. Schum asked that the 13% department reductions to the tune of $2 million be discussed at the next meeting.  She also requested the number of vacancies at the central office level.


Mr. Wallace thanked all the presenters for bringing the information to the Board tonight.




The agenda having been completed, and there being no further business, there was a


MOTION BY:    Jones

SECOND BY:   Wallace

MOTION:           Motion for adjournment.

There were no objections.

The motion carried.

The meeting adjourned at 9:16 p.m.



_____________________________________                             ________________________________

Dr. Lynett Hookfin, Superintendent/Secretary                                 Nia Mitchell-Williams, President