Concordia School District cited for possible overpayment

Published 8:58 am Friday, February 9, 2007

An overall positive audit report turned yet again to the school bus debate at Thursday night’s Concordia Parish School Board meeting.

Business Manager Tom O’Neal presented an audit that he described as 98 percent good. The district was cited for two findings, though.

One revolved around accounting errors that O’Neal said had already been resolved.

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The other finding pertained to the possible overpayment of some school bus drivers for the last two years.

The district was cited for not having proper files on bus drivers, not having complete route audits measuring the mileage of each route and not having signed contracts.

O’Neal said some drivers may be asked to pay back money they wrongly received.

Board member Fred Butcher questioned asking drivers to pay back money all at once because of negligence on the part of the district.

“If they have to pay two years all at one time, that’s going to be a hill to climb,” he said.

Butcher proposed making an arrangement that gave the drivers a longer period of time to repay the money.

O’Neal said drivers were also responsible for turning in accurate route audits, something that would have prevented overpayment.

Clarence Skipper, the president of the local bus driver’s association, asked to address the board, and said drivers had done everything they were supposed to do.

District route audits were not done on time due to an illness by the former transportation supervisor, the switch to Durham School Services and action by the drivers, O’Neal said.

Some bus drivers refused to let Durham employees on their bus to do the audits, saying they did not work for Durham — the private company hired to handle transportation.

But Skipper said the drivers did not try to prevent the audits altogether.

Skipper also said drivers had submitted the proper contracts to the transportation supervisor, just not to Durham.

“You are trying to force (Durham) down our throat,” he said. “And we were told we didn’t have to do anything with them.”

The board also discussed the formation of a transportation review committee to deal with some of the concerns over Durham.

Superintendent Kerry Laster appointed Vidalia Junior High School Principal Whest Shirley, Monterey Assistant Principal John Bostic, business office employee Gloria Dangerfield, Director of Academic Affairs Paul Nelson, Vidalia resident Shirley Maples, Monterey resident Eddie Poole, Transportation Supervisor Tommy Lanius and Skipper to the committee.

Butcher raised several concerns with the appointments, but board President Gary Parnham told him it was best to let Laster handle it.

In other business:

4Butcher resigned from the position of parliamentarian. Butcher made a motion to create the position at the last meeting, saying the board needed someone to help direct procedure. He was later chosen to fill the slot. But since then the board attorney reported that typically the parliamentarian is not allowed to vote in meetings. Butcher first proposed at Thursday’s meeting that he still be allowed to vote, then resigned from the position altogether.

4A motion made by Martha Rabb to raise the board’s salary by $250 to $609 a month failed for the lack of a second. Rabb said she wanted to see board members paid the state average.

“It would give us a raise like in the past year we have given all employees raises,” Rabb said.

Ferriday High School Principal Michelle Bethea addressed the board, opposing the raise.

“I want to say that I’m a newly appointed administrator, but I know that administrators have not had a raise in years. I’m not aware of all the expenses board members put out, but I do know very few of you come to Ferriday High School.”