Berwick Elementary School's two-story building, built in 1926, received a facelift this summer. School board president Michael Taylor said Acadiana Renovators from Franklin did a complete waterproofing of the exterior. The job also included painting the trim and caulking windows. Taylor said this work should preserve the building for many more years of service to Berwick.
Superintendent: First day of school went smoothly
CENTERVILLE — The early numbers offer some hope that declining enrollment at St. Mary Parish public schools may have stopped or at least slowed.
Superintendent Leonard Armato told school board members Thursday that enrollment for the first day of school was about the same in 2018 as last year.
Armato said the opening of classes for 2018-19 went “very smoothly.”
Declining enrollment has put the board in a pinch for at least the last few years. The board made the controversial decision to close two elementary schools in Franklin and Morgan City two years ago, and funding from the state, partially based on enrollment, took a dip late in the last budget year.
Assistant Superintendent Teresa Bagwell estimated first-day attendance Tuesday at about 7,800. The day enrollment becomes official for government funding purposes is Oct. 1.
Also Thursday, the board voted to install biometric time clocks for employees at all St. Mary public schools.
Instead of relying on punch-cards, with which one employee can clock in or out for another, the new devices log entry and departure using each employees fingerprint.
Chief Financial Officer Alton Perry said auditors had recommended a move to tighten clock-in and clock-out monitoring. Chief Technology Officer Kevin Derise said six schools already have the biometric time clocks. Other schools rely on written time sheets.
Installing the clocks will cost about $60,000.
Some board members were concerned that the new clocks will require a new employee to deal with the information the clocks provide.
But the motion to install the clocks using money from the school board’s general fund passed 6-3.
The board also heard a reminder, included in state law and the system’s own dress code, that while students aren’t allowed to wear body armor, state law specifically allows the wearing of so-called bulletproof book bags.
“Some people are really concerned about the safety of their children and will pay (for bulletproof bags),” said board member Marilyn LaSalle. “But they need to be notified.”