The Iberville Parish School raised school lunch prices by a dime each, froze step increases for school employees, transferred 63 teachers and adopted a new cell phone policy for students during a busy meeting Monday night.


The Iberville Parish School raised school lunch prices by a dime each, froze step increases for school employees, transferred 63 teachers and adopted a new cell phone policy for students during a busy meeting Monday night.

The Board School Lunch unanimously approved Supervisor Paula Warner request to raise meal prices so that breakfast would go up to 90 cents, elementary lunches to $1.75, high school lunch prices to $2 and teacher lunch prices to $3.60.

Some 83 percent of parish students, however, receive free or reduced-price lunches. Even with federal subsidies, the school system loses money on the lunch program, according to a chart Warner provided.

The prices are lower or in line with those charged by other school systems in the area, Warner said, presenting another chart. Ascension Parish, for example, is increasing its lunch prices by 25 cents to $2.25 for elementary and $2.50 for high school students.

“This request is being made to comply with federal law,” Warner told the board.

The board voted 14-1 for a new master salary schedule for school personnel that freezes step increases, generally given annually, for all board employees. When the step increase is re-instated, employees will only receive an increase of one step, the new policy states.

The district will continue to pay a $1,000 supplement for teachers who have achieved National Board Certification, but will not pick up the $5,000 state supplement if the state discontinues it.

Board Member Darlene Ourso of White Castle, who voted against the schedule, wanted to compensate coaches for extra work when their teams go on to compete in post-season championship games.

“We are not going to do that,” Board President Melvin Lodge of St. Gabriel said flatly and repeated the statement several times as Ourso objected.

The board voted 11-4 to approve personnel recommendations that included transferring 65 teachers or administrators to different posts around the school system. The board's Personnel Committee had approved Superintendent P. Edward Cancienne Jr.'s recommendations.

“These transfers are based on need,” Personnel and Instructional Coordinator Brandie Blanchard told the board.

Ourso said the school system saw “outstanding scores” on this year's standardized tests, “yet we're dismantling the schools.”

“We have stressed out the teachers,” Board Member Dorothy R. Sansoni of Plaquemine said. “...I'm trying to figure out why the changes,” when things are going well.

“It seems e just like to have a lot of stuff going on for no good reason,” Sansoni said.

Some 15 students and former students of Plaquemine High School basketball volleyball Coach Cormanda Grace appeared before the board to appeal her transfer to the Math, Science and Arts Academy-East.

“Why take away something that's so good, so precious. These girls need her,” a former player said. She said Grace helped many students, including her, play college ball.

“She's more than just a coach,” a student said. “She's a mother and a mentor.”

Board Member Tom Delahaye of Plaquemine said there were 60 other teachers on the list who might like to stay put and argued it was “unfair to make an exception.”

In the final vote, Board members Pam George of Grosse Tete and Freddie “Sam” Molden III joined Ourso and Sansoni in opposing the changes.

The personnel recommendations also included the names of six teachers who accepted board incentives to retire and four terminations.

Earlier this spring, the School Board voted to cut personnel to balance the budget.

The board also approved changes to the system's student handbook recommended by Chief Academic Officer Elvis J. Cavalier to allow students to carry silenced cell phones at school and to ban hooded sweatshirts on school campuses.

“As part of a School Wide Positive Support Program and a reward for good behavior, students will be allowed to have cell phones in their possession on school campus [sic],” Cavalier said in a memo to the board, but they will have to keep them turned off at all times and use them only with permission from a school administrator.