Monroe City School Board: July 28, 2020 Minutes

Monroe City School Board of Education
2006 Tower Drive
Monroe, Louisiana 71201


The Monroe City School Board met in regular session, Tuesday, July 28, 2020 at Monroe City School District Central Office, 2006 Tower Drive, Monroe, Louisiana 71201. The meeting was called to order at 6:00 p.m. by President Cooper. Pastor Dale Walker, Pine Grove Church, offered prayer and led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Notice: In compliance with Governor Edwards’ Executive Order and the Attorney General’s open meetings guidance concerning the worldwide pandemic COVID-19, the Board will adhere to the twenty-five percent capacity attendance limit and practice social distancing while in the meeting. The meeting will be livestreamed to allow the community to virtually attend the meeting and see actions of the Board in real time.

Agenda Item 2C – Roll Call

Present: Mr. Rick Saulsberry, Ms. Jennifer Haneline, Mr. Bill Willson, Mr. Daryll Berry, Ms. Betty Ward-Cooper and Mr. Brandon Johnson. Absent: Mrs. Sharon Neal-Greer

Action Item 2D – Adoption of the Agenda

On a motion by Ms. Haneline and seconded by Mr. Saulsberry, the Board approved the agenda as printed. The motion carried on a unanimous vote.

Agenda Item 3A – Tribute to Teachers and Frontline Workers

Pastor Earl Davis, President of Concerned Clergy of Monroe, paid tribute to teachers, staff and frontline workers. Thereafter, he offered prayer of protection during this pandemic.

Agenda Item 4A – Resolution Honoring Former Mayor Jamie E. Mayo

On a motion by Mr. Saulsberry and seconded by Mr. Johnson, the Board adopted a resolution honoring former mayor James E. Mayor for his service to the city of Monroe and Monroe City School District. The motion carried on a majority vote. Ms. Haneline, opposed.

Action Item 5 – Consent Agenda Items

Mr. Saulsberry asked if approval of this calendar will affect the beginning of school if a change is needed. Dr. Vidrine responded that a new calendar will need approval at that time.

Mr. Johnson asked why New Teacher Orientation will be held via Zoom. Dr. Vidrine responded that matters covered during orientation does not require in-person attendance. All teachers will be face-to-face beginning August 10th.

Attorney Lawrence noted a correction to policy EBBD. The word “concurring” in paragraph one, line twelve, should be replaced with “conferring.”

Mr. Berry said that he has received phone calls from parents regarding school opening. He asked the superintendent to find ways to notify parents that they are not being forced to send their children to school. He said parents may not know they have another option other than in-person. Dr. Vidrine responded that information is shared via Remind App, district webpage, Facebook, Twitter and media outlets.

Public Comment: Submitted by Roosevelt Wright, Jr. via email and read by the board clerk. “The policy is being revised to prohibit the use of school facilities for funerals, weddings or social events. It does not provide for any exceptions. There are circumstances that should be considered. In recent years there have been funerals of former school principals and at least one band director that were held in school buildings. It was considered an honor for their years of service. Under this revised policy, no funerals will be held in school facilities for any reason, even though Item #2 in the policy allows the use of school facilities that do not violate state law.  In my opinion, the Board should delegate approval of such activities to the school principal who should consider each request on a case by case basis.”

Ms. Haneline said it is necessary to add this language to the policy for liability reasons. Mr. Saulsberry stated that the policy can be suspended if needed.

It was moved by Ms. Haneline and seconded by Mr. Berry, to approve June 23, 2020 board meeting minutes; revise 2020-2021 calendar; ratify Act of Donation of Immovable Property for Utility Easement around Wossman High School to the city of Monroe; approve vacation leave extension; accept first reading of policies: GAAA (Equal Employment Opportunity), GAE (Non-Title IX Grievance Procedure), GAEAA (Title VII Employee Sexual Harassment), GAMC (Investigations), JAAA (Title IX Sexual Harassment), JCEA (Sexually Related Student Misconduct); adopt policies BBC (Board Committees), KF (Use of School Facilities), II (Testing Program), GBAA (Compensation Guidelines/Overtime), EBBD (Emergency Closing of Schools) with correction as noted by the board attorney, GBRIBC (Emergency Family and Medical Leave [EFMLA] and Emergency Paid Sick Leave [COVID-19 Pandemic]); and awarded bids: #SFS21-01 bread products, #SFS21-02 milk and juice products, #SFS21-03 school food products, #SFS21-04 paper and cleaning supplies, #MC21-01 instructional supplies and #MC21-02 janitorial supplies. The motion carried on a unanimous vote.

Action Item 6A – Consent Agenda Items for Sperate Consideration


Action Item 7A – FY 2020-2021 District Insurance Coverage

It was moved by Mr. Berry and seconded by Mr. Willson, to approve FY 2020-2021 insurance coverage renewal through Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., which includes a rejection of uninsured motorist coverage. The motion carried on a unanimous vote.

Action Item 7B – Suspension of Board Policy for First Reading

On a motion by Mr. Saulsberry and seconded by Ms. Haneline, the Board suspended requiring first reading of policy EBBI (Public Health Emergency). The motion carried on a unanimous vote.

Action Item 7C – Policy EBBI

On a motion by Ms. Haneline and seconded by Mr. Saulsberry, the Board approved policy EBBI (Public Health Emergency). The motion carried on a unanimous vote.

Action Item 7D – Proposed Substitute Teacher Pay Increase

On a motion by Ms. Haneline and seconded by Mr. Berry, the Board approved pay increase for substitute teachers.
$70—high school graduate
$80—college degree (bachelor’s/master’s/doctor’s)
$90—certified teacher (any degree)
$110—long-term* substitute/non-certified teacher
$135—long-term* substitute/certified teacher
*long-term substitute pay rate begins on the eleventh consecutive day in the same position

The motion carried on a unanimous vote.

Action Item 7E – MCSD Summer Enrichment for the Arts Camp Proposal

It was moved by Ms. Haneline and seconded by Mr. Willson, to table this matter until all requested information is submitted to the Board.

Ms. Haneline said she asked for information prior to the board meeting that included specific evidence-based documentation, detailed budget, assessment techniques, number of students to be served and method of recruitment. She also reminded presenters to provide the additional information. A revised document was received; however, it still did not contain everything that was requested.

Dr. Pamela Saulsberry noted that specific academic evidence-based matters are not normed under the population that it is being applied to. Ms. Jamie Mayes said that the mission of this summer program is to help students identify their areas of interest, provide them with tools and resources that push education to the next level and inspire them to come back to school during the regular school year and feel motivated to do more. She said she inadvertently left packets for Board members, but they will be delivered to central office on tomorrow.

Mr. Willson noted that additional information was requested prior to this meeting; yet, it has not been received. There should be no exceptions – if an exception is made for one group, then it should be made for others. Ms. Mayes responded that no specific date was given. She was under the impression that she needed the information for tonight’s meeting and that is what she prepared for. She said she emailed the requested information to Ms. Haneline on yesterday.

Mr. Saulsberry noted that children on the southside would benefit from this program. He said that the district has spent upwards of $20,000 for professional development that was not effective and $750,000 on a scoreboard; and these individuals are only asking for $3,000 to help students and it appears as though there is a problem.

In favor: Ms. Haneline and Mr. Willson. Opposed: Mr. Saulsberry, Mr. Berry, Mr. Johnson and Ms. Cooper. The motion failed.

It was moved by Mr. Saulsberry and seconded by Mr. Berry to accept the Summer Enrichment for the Arts Proposal.

Mr. Willson said he voted against the proposal because the information was not received, as requested by the curriculum committee chair, Ms. Haneline. He also said that President Cooper was adamant that matters are vetted by respective committees. Ms. Cooper noted that it is best practice not to place items on the agenda without proper documentation. Ms. Haneline said that she received two emails from Ms. Mayes; however, neither of them contained the information she specifically requested. Mr. Johnson said he supports the program, but the Board must receive requested information in order to be transparent.

Ms. Mayes stated that she will withdraw her proposal because her passion is for children and she does not want to be a part of any conflict with the Board. Mr. Johnson said it is not necessary to withdraw the proposal; he only ask that information be submitted if requested.

In favor: Mr. Saulsberry, Mr. Berry, Mr. Johnson and Ms. Cooper. The motion failed. Opposed: Ms. Haneline and Mr. Willson. The motion carried on a majority vote.

Agenda Item 8A – 2020-2021 Strong Start Plan

Dr. Vidrine noted that school will start differently this year due to the pandemic. Pursuant to ACT 9 of the 2020 First Extraordinary Legislative Session, BESE adopted emergency rules for public schools. He presented a PowerPoint presentation outlining changes for the district.
* Best practices from Louisiana Department of Health: Monitoring of symptoms, strategies for physical distancing, cleaning protocol, food service, transportation, face coverings, personal protection equipment and reopening procedures.
* Custodial Plan: Follow daily checklist, clean shared facilities after each group’s use, clean high touch surfaces (including bathrooms), sanitize building each afternoon.
* Transportation Plan: Seating capacity with members of the same household seated together, touchless hand sanitizers, clean high touch surfaces and seats between each bus load, face coverings for grades 3 and up and temperature check upon arrival at school. Parents are asked to bring students to school if possible.
* Food Service Plan: Flexible mealtimes, continue grab-and-go lunches for virtual students, handwashing before and after meals, use of plastic utensils
* Instructional Plan for Phase 2: 100% at school for Pre-k – 6, hybrid for 7-12, Family Choice Program 100% virtual/distance learning for all grades, one-to-one initiative for laptops, academic instruction will remain consistent.
* On-line virtual enrollment: July 22-31. The date can be extended if needed.
* Communication Plan: District website, Facebook, Twitter, Remind App and media outlets.
* Telehealth will be used.
* Services for mental health through the AWARE Grant.

Mr. Johnson asked why temperatures will be checked at school instead of the bus stop. Dr. Vidrine responded that the LDH recommends temperature checks upon arrival at school because students waiting on the bus may elevate their temperature by being hyperactive. If an elevated temperature is detected upon arrival, the student will be isolated for approximately fifteen minutes to see if the temperature decreases. If a student test positive, they will be able to revert to virtual learning. If a teacher test positive a determination will be made on a case-by-case basis and guidance will be needed from the Louisiana Department of Health. He noted that a flowchart is being prepared to determine steps if staff/students are exposed or test positive. Mr. Johnson stated that he is concerned that teachers will report to work sick because they cannot financially afford to miss days and parents will send their children to school sick because they do not have anyone to keep them. It is his recommendation to direct the superintendent to begin school 100% virtually and reevaluate the situation after each 9-week period.

Ms. Cooper inquired about static groups of twenty-five. Dr. Vidrine responded that classes do not usually exceed that number during the regular school year. Being that virtual is an option, classes will be smaller. He said that principals can move classes to other areas in the building if necessary.

Mr. Berry inquired about sports. Dr. Vidrine noted that the district is following LHSAA guidelines.

Ms. Haneline inquired about additional staff to clean facilities. Dr. Vidrine noted that he has been in contact with Workforce Development to assist with additional staff. If need be, the district can contract with a cleaning service. He also noted that teachers will be provided with cleaning supplies as needed.

Agenda Item 8B – Financial Reports

Dr. Vidrine reported on May 2020 Financial Statements.
* Sales tax for 2019-2020 is down $1.11M
* Additional Strong Start funding of $1.3M for technology (distance learning) has been received.
* 2020-2021 budget timeline is being prepared
* Detailed financial statements can be viewed in BoardDocs

Agenda Item 8C – Report of Superintendent

No report given.

Agenda Item 8D – Report of Board Members

Ms. Haneline reported that a community meeting was held for the renaming of Robert E. Lee Jr. High and a recommendation will be made at the next board meeting. She asked for an update on the turn-by-turn tracking system for buses.

Mr. Saulsberry said he would like the district to consider 100% virtual; however, he is a teacher and sees both sides of the issue.

Mr. Willson said every parent has the choice to either send their children to school or keep them home for virtual learning. He is concerned that there may be increases in depression, child abuse and domestic violence if schools are not open, and parents are forced to stay home.

President Cooper said the Board will monitor this matter weekly. Student and staff health are the main priority and changes can be made if needed.

Agenda Item 9 – Future Meetings

Future Meetings: August 25, 2020 and September 15, 2020 at 6:00 p.m.

Action Item 10 – Recess/Adjournment

There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting adjourned at 8:36 p.m.
Bottom of Form

/Betty Ward-Cooper/
/Brent Vidrine/
Betty Ward-Cooper Dr. Brent Vidrine
Board President Superintendent

Note: These minutes summarize the final decisions made by the Board at the referenced meeting. This meeting was also audio recorded and that recording is available for review by contacting the Board clerk at