By Cyndi Sellers
With five members present, the Cameron Parish School Board met on Tuesday, Oct. 11. A quorum could not be met on Monday. The members present voted to seek an appraisal for the Administration Building in Cameron, with an eye toward possibly selling the building. School Superintendent Charley Lemons said that an appraisal would be needed to learn whether a sale is in the best interests of the school system.
Since last month’s executive session about the sale, one concerned citizen had contacted the Board with questions. Lemons said insurance on the building has doubled since Hurricane Laura, to $120,000 a year. He also said the building is bigger than needed, calling it “excessive.” In case of a sale, he proposes to remodel the Audrey Memorial bus barn into offices and a meeting room.
Robin Morales made the motion to seek an appraisal, and Telesha Bertrand seconded. The motion passed unanimously. Sheila Miller, Joe Delcambre, and Randall Faulk were absent. Lemons hopes to have an appraisal by the Nov. 8 meeting and hold a vote on the sale at that time.
Lemons reported that the incidence of COVID-19 in the schools is beginning to improve, and the schools are in a “much better place” than they were in two months ago. There are currently only seven students out with COVID, and there have been no school closures. However, he said confusion has been caused by State Supt. Brumley’s directive on parent choice for quarantine after a child has been exposed to the virus. “No health professionals were consulted,” he said. “Personally, I was worried about legal ramifications if we do this. We could be taking a step backwards.” It is up to the local School Board to decide whether to allow parent choice.
Assistant District Attorney Mike Cassidy said the Governor’s position hasn’t changed. Marsha Trahan said she’s received a couple of phone calls from parents of elementary students who have missed school because of quarantine. They are worried that their children will fall behind. Under the parish’s guidelines, only unmasked students must quarantine when exposed. Masked students can attend school if they stay six feet apart from other students.
Susan Dupont, School District Health Administrator, said the current improved results have been achieved with diligent screening and sending home those who need it. Parent choice has no medical support, she said. Under legal guidelines she and other nurses must follow, she couldn’t counsel and help with a parent choice option without possibly losing her license. She said there have been 95 cases of COVID in Cameron Parish schools since school started, involving both students and adults, but absences are down to seven. She urged board members to make no changes to current guidelines. Board members agreed and took no action to allow parent choice on quarantine.
Social Media Challenges
Challenges and pranks promoted by social media platforms like Tik-Tok are becoming popular around the country, but Cameron Parish has not seen many, said Supt. Lemons. He is angered by the phenomenon. “It’s absurd.,” he said. “We are not going to tolerate some of this foolishness: vandalism, stealing teachers’ possessions, disrespecting or assaulting teachers and staff. We will turn them over to the Sheriff’s Office and let them deal with it. We will have no tolerance.”
Repairs to the Administration Building are expected to be complete by Nov. 20. The elevator was not available for Tuesday’s meeting, requiring a strenuous climb to the meeting room level. Staff hopes the elevator is back in time for next month’s meeting.
Several other hurricane repair projects are in the works, with bids going out in late October or November, but two were awarded. The low bid of $297,300 from Gunter Construction was approved for the South Cameron High School playground replacement project. Keiland Construction’s low bid of $185,000 for the Hackberry High School Phase II project was also approved.
Supt. Lemons thanked the Cameron Parish Police Jury, Johnson Bayou High School, and the Cameron Parish Sheriff’s Office for assistance in moving and installing a basketball floor to the Cameron Recreation Center for use by the South Cameron High School basketball team. The team has had no gym in which to practice since Hurricane Laura flooded the school’s gym complex. It has since been demolished, and a new gym is in the planning stage.