The Vernon Parish School Board met Thursday, October 5, at 10 a.m. in the Central Office meeting room. They heard updates on personnel matters as well as reports from the Technology and Maintenance departments.
Personnel Director Hub Jordan reported to the Board on two new state legislative acts that might ease the problem of finding certified teachers. Act 371 of the Louisiana Legislature allows the streamlining of hiring out-of-state certified teachers. The certification process for out-of-state teachers has been shortened and should encourage military teachers to re-enter the local workforce. The process had been lengthy, and out-of-state teachers would often be transferred before they could finish the process. Act 392 of the Legislature offers an Alternative Certification Program that offers conditional access to the certified program with a flexible GPA incentive to keep a 3.0 GPA. Jordan told Board members these measures would be good in finding more certified teachers for the Vernon Parish school system.
Technology Supervisor Bill Lohman gave the Board an update on recent improvements in the school system’s internet delivery. A staff of 10 employees maintains tech problems for 8,000 students, over 1,200 staff, and 13,000 student devices. There are 169 miles of underground fiber optics to manage that will all come together by 2024. The Technology Department is also looking into a phone consolidation and new phone system across the parish.
Maintenance Supervisor Dwain Ducote gave an overview of the Maintenance Department, reminding all those in attendance that all money in school maintenance funds comes from property tax, not sales tax. All Board members receive reports monthly on work orders and projects. Those work orders average about 25 per day, according to Ducote. In September his department had 240 work orders turned in. Most work orders are for air conditioners, coolers, and freezers. The maintenance staff is comprised of 14 employees who take care of 18 schools and the Central Office complex. There are three HVAC experts, two plumbers, two electricians, four carpenters, and three truck drivers on staff.
Lisa Lohman with the Curriculum Department reported to the Board on a recent national conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, attended by herself and Board member Vernon Travis. They were able to give an overview of the Board’s “Capturing Better Futures Initiative” to a national audience and shared a recently produced video of the project. Lohman said a member of the U.S. Department of Energy expressed an interest in helping grow the program. Travis commented that the Vernon program, which began this year with 15 students, might attract twice as many or more applicants next year.