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BESE Special Meetings Notice - Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Bese Special Meetings Notice
Storm Makeup Days
An Investment in Local Policy The regular Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting was called off because of Hurricane Ike. A Special called meeting was held to take action on a number of issues coming out of 90-day Notice of Intent.
After a some-times heated discussion, BESE decided by a 6 o 4 votes to grant local school boards the authority to decide whether or not to close on Tuesday, November 4, 2008. On that date the nation will vote in a presidential election.
Secretary of State Jay Dardenne appealed to BESE not to grant the waiver as he expects a very heavy voter turnout, perhaps as much as 70% of registered voters. He signaled that by granting the waiver BESE would allow local districts to hold storm-loss make-up days at a potentially high cost. He pointed to traffic congestions at those schools that serve as polling places; scheduling problems for polling officials who are also school workers; and an influx of strangers on campuses that also serve as election stations.
Paul Pastorek noted that local educational agencies are hard pressed to find days with which to make up for time lost to Gustav and Ike. “I think it presumptuous that we convey to school boards that we know best what is best for all local districts.” He says local conditions vary all across Louisiana, and that nearly all Parishes suffered some damage that could impact normal school operations.
Ms. Tammie A. McDaniel, member at large from Northeast Louisiana, said “we make lots of decisions that impact local districts and this might be a good place to start honoring a new recognition of local policy authority.”
Gayle Sloan, superintendent of St. Tammany Parish schools, represented the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents in testimony that endorsed the waiver that would allow for local board decision-making.
In other action, Linda Johnson, president of BESE, announced that the first meeting of the newly appointed Accountability Commission would meet in October at a date still to be selected. The Commission will reorganize to begin a broad overview of accountability issues that include revision to high stakes testing policy.


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