Now that the Webster Parish school system no longer requires federal court supervision and has moved into unitary status, change was expected. One of the biggest changes was outlined Monday by attorney Jon Guice.
"In a nutshell, simply, when it comes to employment and compensation, the board has no role," Guice told members of the parish school board during their Monday meeting. "Act 1 says all decisions relative to hiring are made by the superintendent."
Before unitary status, candidates for administrative positions in the parish were rated using an intricate point system. Candidates for those positions, usually selected from the top three point-getters, were approved by a vote of school board members. That system no longer applies.
Guice said when the legislature passed Act 1, another part of the hiring process changed.
"At the school level, autonomy is given to the principal to interview and to pick who they feel will be the best teacher at their school," he said. "That selection is subject to the superintendent's approval."
At the district and school level, Guice said, "...who to hire lies with the superintendent and the principal, using the criteria Act 1 gives them."
While the superintendent is now charged with hiring administrative personnel at the school and district level, Guice told board members they would not be kept in the dark about those decisions.
"What you will start seeing is personnel reports, so instead of an agenda asking for the board's authority to employ certain people, you will see a report from the superintendent saying since last meeting, the following positions were filled...," he said.
Guice recommended to board members that administrative and supervisory personnel receive performance contracts no more than two years in length. He also said the board should pass a salary schedule.
"You pass a schedule, the superintendent fixes the salary of an employee based on that schedule. It has to be based on effectiveness, demand and experience," he said.
Guice said the school board could also set standards for recruitment of personnel.
"Basically, you're telling the superintendent we know the legislature says you will hire, but we want to tell you what our policy is going to be relative to how you do it," Guice explained.
Displaying to the group his copy of the changes under unitary status, Guice told board members they have not forfeited their responsibility for developing policy.
"If you go to the Smithsonian, this is the skeleton. You have the right to put the meat on it," he said.