OPELOUSAS — The St. Landry Parish School Board voted 10-2 Thursday to reject a prospective list of names of school employees who were scheduled to be laid off by May 22.
The vote to reject the proposed layoffs came at the end of lengthy meeting at which the board also authorized the district to apply for up to $3.5 million in loans to help alleviate an ongoing financial crisis and set a special meeting for May 14 to discuss advertising for a new superintendent
Acting Superintendent Joseph Cassimere had asked the board to approve a list of name of workers scheduled for layoffs from various employee workforce categories, including maintenance workers, nurses, secretaries, custodians, accountants, paraprofessionals and nontenured retirees who have returned to work.
Action on the employees was supposed to be the first part of two-phase employee layoff plan that district officials said would save several million dollars annually.
The district is anticipating a $3.9 million deficit by June 30, the end of the fiscal year.
Cassimere said in an interview after the meeting that he did not know how many names were on the layoff list, which was presented to board members in sealed envelopes by Personnel Director Matthew Scruggins.
Cassimere went to each board member and collected the packets of names after the meeting and denied news media requests for copies.
The board reviewed but did not discuss any specific names that were on the list.
Cassimere said in an interview after the meeting that he “respected the board’s decision” in the matter.
“There’s a lot of pressure (on board members) and they were asked to make a tough call,” Cassimere said. “They have to go back and face the people in their districts.”
Cassimere said he does not know how the district will afford to continue paying the employees included on the lists considered Thursday.
The State Department of Education and State Legislative Auditor’s Office are reviewing the district’s progress in solving its financial problems.
“They (state officials) were expecting to see something action in regards to addressing the budget,” Cassimere said. “I’m sure I will get a call from them and a meeting” will be called to discuss the situation.
Voting to reject the lists were Anthony Standberry, John Miller, Candace Gerace, Ronald Carriere, Huey Wyble, Scott Richard, Quincy Richard, Roger Young, Josie Frank and Harry Fruge.
Those voting no in the matter were Charles Ross and Raymond Cassimere.
SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT: An agenda item to advertise for a new superintendent was on Thursday’s agenda, but the board delayed action on the matter after several individuals spoke at the meeting and requested a slower timetable.
Debbie Faul, a facilitator at the parishwide alternative school in Opelousas, told the board input from employees, business groups, parents and community leaders should be weighed before deciding when to advertise for the position.
Board attorney Gerard Caswell said the board should first determine the criteria required for superintendent before any advertisements are created.
Former Superintendent Michael Nassif resigned in October due to what Caswell said are medical reasons.
SCHOOL LOAN: According to the loan resolution approved by the board, the district will be able to borrow up to $3.5 million to help meet operational expenses for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013.
Finance Director Tressa Miller said the loan, if approved by the State Bond Commission, will allow the school system to borrow money as needed.
“It’s set up sort of like a line of credit,” board President Kyle Boss said.