By Cyndi Sellers
The Cameron Parish School Board has received its first FEMA reimbursement money for Hurricane Laura projects. Two obligated small projects were funded for $65,107, the Board learned at its meeting Monday evening. Project Manager James Hoffpauir also reported that FEMA seems anxious to close out remaining Hurricane Rita and Ike projects, which have over $6 million outstanding.
Damages caused by Laura are in Permanent Repair in various phases at all sites. Interior repairs to the Administration Building will go out for bids Nov. 11. Phase II of school projects will go out for bid in the next couple of months, except Hackberry, which has already been bid. The South Cameron High School gym replacement preliminary plans have been reviewed by administrative staff and the principal and are being revised. Other projects to be bid in the coming months are: Grand Lake High School Final Phase Repairs, Grand Lake High School Softball Bleacher Cover, Johnson Bayou High School Repairs phase II, Hackberry High School VoAg Demo and Rebuild, and South Cameron High School various Final Repairs. FEMA funding for all projects that have insurance will be reduced by that amount prior to obligation funding.
Security Cameras will be installed at Grand Lake High School and Elementary School by Acadian Total Security. Acadian was the second lowest bidder, at $138,595. The lowest bidder could not meet the advertised timeline and was rejected.
Supt. Charley Lemons reported that the mask mandate for Cameron Parish School has been lifted, except for on school buses. In accordance with CDC guidelines, students who are exposed to COVID-19 must still quarantine, however. School Board member Marsha Trahan asked why Calcasieu Parish students who are exposed are allowed to go to school and wear a mask if they have no symptoms. Lemons and the Cameron School Board’s legal counsel, ADA Mike Cassidy, said it was their understanding that the only way to lift the mask mandate was to meet other CDC guidelines, including quarantine. Lemons said he would reach out to Calcasieu to learn their reasoning.
An appraisal on the Central Office Building in Cameron is still being prepared, Lemons said. It should be ready in a week or so, and the Board will be able to consider whether to sell the building at next month’s meeting. Lemons advised that if a sale is approved, it will have to be advertised, and the amount offered must meet Fair Market Value.
The Board will vote next month on a redistricting provider. Board members did not want to vote on Monday because only five members were present. Meetings have been held with two providers, both of whom worked on Cameron Parish redistricting after the 2010 census. District Attorney Tom Barrett explained that the process this time will be even more difficult since population shifts have placed many more people in census blocks that cannot be divided until 2026.
The Board voted to increase the hourly rates for Special Counsel from $100 – $150 per hour, depending on experience, to $125 – $225, as approved by the Attorney General. The rates are still lower than the private sector. The School Board has retained the firm of Hammond, Sills and Guice for several years for assistance with complex legal matters.
The Board approved a Cooperative Endeavor agreement with the Sheriff’s Office putting the terms of the School Resource Officer program into writing. The Sheriff will continue to provide and train officers, and the School Board will pay an agreed-upon amount, to be negotiated annually to the Sheriff’s Office to pay them. The officers will be Sheriff’s Office employees.
The Board also voted to sign a Hold Harmless agreement with the individual who has been parking equipment on the Dewey Street property owned by the Board. The individual will continue to be able to park there, but access will be limited, and the School Board will not be responsible for any damages or injuries on its property.