School Board amends budget to repay $650,000

PETER SILAS PASQUA ppasqua@postsouth.com

PLAQUEMINE - The Iberville Parish School Board amended its 2013-14 general fund operating budget by nearly $800,000 for the purpose of refunding the Universal Service Administrative Co. for erate funds in 2010.

The school district was cited in a 2010 audit for not being able to produce supporting documentation of required competitive bidding for grants resulting in a 30-minute debate during its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday night. 

“This school system could have used that money,” Board member Dorothy Sansoni said. “Who is responsible for this. Somebody needs to come up with a better explanation.”

Iberville Parish School Superintendent P. Edward Carcienne said the documents were lost when workers were authorized to clear the office of the consultant managing the grant money after she resigned her post in February 2010.

“The records utterly disappeared without my knowledge,” consultant Leslie Blanchard said.

The board could face penalties if the exact figure of $646,236 is not returned.

In other news, Chief Financial Officer Jolain Landry told the board that it may lose up to $4.7 million in local funding through the state’s Minimum Foundation Program to a new Iberville Charter Academy set to open in fall 2014.

“This is only a projection but the most important thing to realize is that our funding will be affected,” Landry said.

Cancienne noted that the charter academy was approved at the state level and is an independent public school system not associated or approved by the Iberville Parish School System.

“We are our own worst enemy,” Board member Darlene Ourso said. “The charter school is here because of us.”

The board also heard from Iberville Parish Athletic Coordinator Paul Distefano regarding athletics.

“Concussions are very serious and they happen in all extracurricular activities,” Distefano said.

Varsity athletes at parish schools number 347 at Plaquemine, 115 at White Castle and 71 at East Iberville, Distefano said.

School Food Service Supervisor Paula Warner also told the board an online application for after school meals has been submitted. Warner said 1,575 were served in March.

Lastly, the board received a public address from Ferrante Dominique regarding lower income families.

“I believe funds have been focused on MSA-West,” Dominique said. “The poor bears the burdens of the rich. Let’s bridge the gap and focus on the less fortunate.”

In a letter to school officials dated April 7, Dominique, an employee of the Iberville school system, said he is representing a newly formed group of educators in Iberville Parish called Unmasking the Power of One and his views reflect those of an organization called Men Above Men.

The letter chided school officials for lack of after school programs, unfair treatment of teachers and paraprofessionals, unequal distribution of public funding and an upcoming reduction in force.

“We spent more money per child than A school districts,” Dominique said. “A C school district is not acceptable.”

The board also recognized the White Castle boys basketball team and coach Troy Green for winning the District 8-1A championship and advancing to the quarterfinal playoffs.