Board seeks funds for testing

VILLE PLATTE — The Evangeline Parish School Board must find millions of dollars in funding for a state directive to prepare for online testing of students in two years, Superintendent of Schools Toni Hamlin said Wednesday.

The program will initially cost the School Board $2 million in infrastructure such as wiring, Hamlin said. In addition to that cost, the school district will have to purchase some 2,000 new computers at a minimum cost of $600 each, she said.

One funding source, the E-rate Priority Two program, was denied, the superintendent said. The School Board had applied for this federal funding source that is based on the number of free school lunches and reduced-priced school lunches served daily.

The new online testing program goes into effect in the 2014-2015 school year for students in grades three through 11. Only two districts in Louisiana are prepared to implement the program, Hamlin said.

The School Board’s newly appointed executive committee, which is in charge of financial matters, is scheduled to meet in January to begin reviewing funding options and sources. The committee’s members are Ellis Guillory, Arthur Savoy, Jerry Thompson and Peggy Forman.

Other items discussed during the meeting included:

REAPPORTIONMENT: The School Board, which has 13 districts, approved the adoption of a new reapportionment plan as prepared by demographer Mike Heffner. Governing bodies redraw district lines every 10 years, based on U.S. Census data, to take account of population shifts. The parish population decreased by about 2,000 residents since the 2000 Census to 33,984 for the 2010 Census.

Two districts with the most population shifts are District 5, in the Bayou Chicot and Turkey Creek area, where the number of residents was 19 percent too high for ideal population and District 13, in the Ville Platte area, where the number of residents was 14 percent too low for ideal population.

The School Board-approved reapportionment plan will be sent to the U.S. Justice Department for review. The next School Board election is set for 2014.

SCHOOL BOARD: The board selected Wayne Dardeau as president for another term and selected Scott Limoges as its new vice president, replacing Jerry Thompson.