Baker School Board may seek new office space

The Baker School Board on Tuesday discussed beginning a search for new office space to house district employees.

During a work session in which votes could not be taken, the board examined various options for office space, including using buildings that the district already owns, constructing a new facility and finding existing space in Baker to buy or rent.

At the April 9 board meeting, Superintendent Ulysses Joseph said that the cost of renting from Whitney Bank the district’s 3,300-square-foot office on Ray Weiland Drive will increase from $4 to $10 per square foot per year, effective immediately.

Board President Shona Boxie said that the district’s lease will expire March 31, giving the district less than one year to find a new space.

Other matters before the board included:

SALARY SCHEDULE: The board voted to receive, but take no action on, a proposed new salary schedule for the 2013-14 school year based on requirements of Act 1 of the state Legislature. Members Boxie, Dana Carpenter and Elaine Davis voted for the measure. Doris Alexander abstained. Board member Troy Watson was absent for the vote.

Under the proposed schedule, a teacher with no experience and a bachelor’s degree would begin at $39,000 per year as opposed to $38,000 on the model the district used in 2012-13. Teachers also would receive raises based on effectiveness, demand and experience rather than simply on years served, in accordance with Act 1.

“I am concerned that we are spending a lot of time on something that’s been judged unconstitutional by the courts,” Davis said.

Judge R. Michael Caldwell of 19th Judicial District Court struck down the law March 4. Attorneys for the state have appealed to the state Supreme Court.

Carpenter said that under the proposed salary schedule, a teacher with a doctorate degree would “max out” at $55,200 annually in contrast to $57,500 on the old schedule.

WELDING CLASSES: During their work session, board members heard a presentation from Girard Melancon of Baton Rouge Community College about a proposed memorandum of understanding between BRCC and school system to use Baker High School’s welding lab for vocational education.

Under the proposal, BRCC would pay the Baker School System $500 for each class held in the lab. The classes would be open to students 18 years and older and target those who are underemployed in Baker, Melancon said.

Davis expressed concern over safety during the classes, which would be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays or 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends.