West Feliciana joins school cooperative

The West Feliciana Parish School Board agreed Tuesday to join a cooperative of Louisiana school districts that hope to save money through bulk purchases of computers and software and by devising curriculum and online courses.

The Vermilion Parish School Board administers the District Cooperative of Louisiana, and West Feliciana is assessed $1,500 to join.

Supervisor of Federal Programs Joyce Edwards said West Feliciana is participating in one DCL initiative already, devising unit tests and other assessments for second-grade math that are tied to the new national curriculum standards required in Louisiana.

In return, the parish will receive test modules in other kindergarten through 12th-grade subjects that other districts write.

The parish will pay second-grade teachers to prepare the math tests this summer, but the school district will save money by not having to pay other teachers, Edwards said.

Superintendent Hollis Milton said the curriculum guides will be a structured framework vetted by a large number of educators across the state.

“The DCL grew out of some concerns about a lack of support from the state Department of Education. This is sort of a grass-roots program,” Milton told the board.

“It gives us leverage on prices and services,” he said.

Other topics before the board included:

BUDGET TIGHT: Finance Director Helen “Ruthie” Davis said she hopes the district will break even financially when the fiscal year ends June 30. Through March, revenues were only $5,312 more than expenditures.

Davis said sales tax are up 2 percent, possibly because of a refueling and maintenance outage at the River Bend nuclear power plant. Sales tax revenues from last month’s Angola Spring Rodeo also should help the district make it through the year without deficit spending, she said.

SENATE TESTIMONY: Milton said he will testify at 1 p.m. Wednesday before the Senate Education Committee on a bill by state Rep. Kenny Havard, R-Jackson, to require the Education Department to use the same scoring system for 2013 school performance scores as were used last year.

“It’s extremely important to us, but it’s bigger than us,” Milton said. The Louisiana School Boards Association’s weekly legislative alert says the bill allows more transparency and input in the accountability formula.