St. James board again OKs Head Start and preschool programs

The St. James Parish School Board on Tuesday unanimously approved an agreement between the board and the parish government’s Head Start and preschool programs.

Head Start is a federal grant program funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to encourage comprehensive child development.

The St. James Parish Head Start program provides an average of 10 to 13 classes serving 210 children 3 to 5 years of age, according to the agreement.

The program also includes three dual enrollment pre-K programs at Sixth Ward, Fifth Ward and Gramercy Elementary schools.

According to the agreement the School Board and parish government will, among other things: promote collaboration regarding shared use of transportation, facilities and other resources; improve availability and the quality of services for St. James Parish’s young children; and address the unique strengths and needs of the population, including the homeless, migrant and non-English speaking families.

Approval for the agreement is sought each year from both governing bodies, said Michelle Nailor-Octave, executive director of the parish’s Human Resources Department.

Board members George Nassar Jr., Ken Foret, Carol Lambert, Charles Nailor, Patricia Schexnayder and Ricky Reulet Jr. attended Tuesday’s meeting. Board member Diana Cantillo did not attend.

Other business before the School Board included:

INVESTING PROGRAM: The board voted 4-0 vote to table approval of a proposed investment management agency agreement with Regions Bank to give board members more time to read over the agreement.

Jim Mitchell, parish schools administrative director of business services, said the School Board already banks with Regions Bank but the new agreement would allow the School Board to utilize the bank’s investment advising services.

Foret and Schexnayder abstained from voting because they are personal Regions Bank customers, they said.

TAX AGREEMENT: Board members unanimously approved a joint agreement between the School Board and the St. James Parish Council for collection of sales and use taxes from July 1 through June 30, 2014.

The agreement is one requested for approval each year by the School Board, said Neshelle Nogess, parish schools director of sales and use taxes.