Gov. Edwards expected to close schools

By Cyndi Sellers

Gov. John Bel Edwards is expected to announce this week that Louisiana school will remain closed for the remainder of the school year. The Governor said Tuesday that although it is likely that the campuses will remain closed, those districts that are conducting distance learning will continue to be able to do so.

Cameron Parish School Supt. Charley Lemons reported to the School Board on Monday that he doesn’t have any information yet on possible make-up time or graduation. However, he said that zero Cameron Parish seniors need to recover grades and all will be able to graduate. He said as soon as larger gatherings are possible Cameron Parish will hold graduation ceremonies, “even if it’s Aug. 15.”

Cameron Parish is not conducting structured distance learning due to the difficulty with internet access for all students and the need for teachers to learn how to prepare lessons and administer tests online, for which no resources were provided by the state. However, Chrome books and iPads are being made available to parents who wish to keep their children engaged in learning during this extended absence from school. Lists of online resources are provided on the Cameron Parish School System website.

There is some concern about how far behind the students will be when school resumes in the fall. Lemons said it is possible school may start earlier to give teachers time to review and recover skills that will have grown rusty over the long break. It was pointed out that even though nine weeks of school will be missed, only three or four of those weeks actually would have been spent in curriculum instruction. Much of the rest of the time would have been used in preparation for and administration of state tests, and end of school field trips, etc.

In other business, the School Board approved change orders for the Phase I and II improvements at Hackberry High School, providing for an increased number of toilets for the Pre-K and Kindergarten restrooms ($13,466) and a revision of the concession window into the new gym to improve visibility ($5,926). Both projects are FEMA funded.

The number of staff positions to be filled for the upcoming school year rose from 281 to 287 with the need to make some substitute teaching positions permanent, add two teachers, and add two support staff.

Insurance quotes were received, and approved. Property insurance increased by 15%, which Gallagher representatives said was very good in this year’s market. Policies have increased 100% to 400% in other places. Still, the $902,234 premium will take a bite out of the budget.

The School Board meeting was held with seven of eight members present plus Mr. Lemons. Others were present via Zoom, as advertised in the Cameron Pilot last week. There were sound quality issues for portions of the meeting, and the staff will work to resolve these by next month, if the meeting size restrictions remain in place.