Two Denham Springs schools cancel classes Thursday due to “large shortage of employees”

DENHAM SPRINGS — Denham Springs High School and Southside Junior High will not be holding classes on Thursday due to a “large number” of employees being out.

Denham Springs High announced their closure Thursday afternoon saying that they reached out to number substitutes as well as exploring other coverage options, but they were not able to come up with a solution that allowed the school to remain open.

A few hours later, Southside Junior high also announced that they would cancel classes Thursday due to a large number of faculty and staff absences.

“The volume of absences that has been declared is greater than we can appropriately manage at this time,” Livingston Parish Schools superintendent Joe Murphy said. “This large shortage of employees means campus leadership would not be able to provide a normal learning day for our students, and lacking this many personnel could create a safety concern for students and employees.”

The district says they plan to have classes on Friday, however, a contentious school board meeting is set for Thursday night where the district will address the failure of a one-cent sales tax that would have funded teacher pay raises.

Some teachers have told Unfiltered with Kiran they plan to stage a sick-out if they don’t feel the front office and school board adequately address their concerns.

This is a developing story. Check back often for new inform

This is a developing story. Check back often for new information. Download the Unfiltered with Kiran app from the Apple App Store and Google Play to stay updated on any new developments.

The parish-wide ballot item failed with 54 percent voting against adding a one-cent sales tax and 46 percent voting in favor, according to complete but unofficial election returns. The vote failed with a measly 20 percent voter turnout.

With no parish-wide sales tax to fund a desperately needed teacher pay raise, the Livingston Parish School Board are now formulating a ‘Plan B’.

Superintendent’s Proposal

Sources tell Unfiltered With Kiran that Livingston Parish Superintendent Joe Murphy is expected to present a proposal at Thursday’s meeting on how to move forward until the 2022-23 school year ends. There are at least two items on Thursday’s agenda centered around the failure of the tax.

Murphy is reportedly proposing that parent teacher conferences are only held within the teacher’s contracted hours. All principals will have the discretion to discontinue any non-essential clubs or activities that take place outside the sponsor’s work period when they aren’t being paid. That could go in place for the rest of the school year.

Livingston Parish Schools’ current calendar has minutes built into it for weather-related dismissals. According to the superintendent, there has been only one weather-related dismissal this year.

As a result of extra minutes not being used, pending any other weather-related dismissals, Murphy is proposing that the school year end on May 19, one week earlier than planned. Dismissing a week early will still allow all schools to meet the minimum requirements for instructional minutes, according to Murphy.

Murphy added that most schools require faculty to work after-hours athletic events, either at the gate, concessions or performing other related activities outside of their contracted work hours.

As part of the proposal, Murphy said no employee should be required to work at the athletic events unless it is voluntary or the employee is being compensated at the principal’s discretion. He said the school can compensate the employee or the school could ask for parent volunteers to perform the duties.

Calls to Murphy have not been returned.

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