By Paige Nash
One issue that has fallen to the wayside for the Bienville Parish School Board (BPSB) during the multiple meetings and long discussions regarding the renewal of Superintendent William Wysinger’s contract is the subject of insurance coverage for Bienville Parish Schools.
In the October monthly meeting the board considered insurance coverage for the period of October 6, 2023 to June 30, 2024.
“We received a quote from the insurance agency and as you can see the price has increased dramatically,” said Wysinger.
Board member Colton Guin had questions. “So, on the policy it is 25 percent of 1.36 million dollars. In hopes to get a better deal to cover more of our property, we will lose approximately $340,000 based on choosing this, but being covered for 30 million until that time happens.”
The policy would insure the schools up to 100 million dollars.
“From what I understand, as far as one thing that has hurt us, is not being insured,” said Guin. “Where are we at on the Ringgold?”
A severe storm passed through the area a few months ago and critically damaged the roof of the Ringgold school complex, but the claim has been completed. The school is functioning with a temporary fix at this time until the permanent roof can be installed.
Guin was concerned with this work getting completed while the board is currently in between insurance companies.
“Say another storm comes through this spring. We do not have a permanent fix. What if something else happens?” asked Guin. “That new insurance would possibly not cover that claim. We could get caught in between the two insurance companies because the permanent fix is not there.”
According to Wysinger the timeline has been established to have the work complete. The only thing hindering the work is that the board would have to shut down the school while repairs are underway. The plan is to begin installing the permanent roof as soon as Ringgold lets out for the summer break and having it completed in time for the 2024-2025 session.
“We are just praying nothing happens until then,” said Wysinger.
The issue of the insurance lapsing was mentioned again in a special-called meeting on October 23.
A Bienville Parish resident and teacher brought up the Declaration of Public Emergency that took place for Ringgold High School in May following the storm in April. “The complex was very damaged and needed major repairs. My question to the public is, ‘Were we aware that we possibly were not insured?’ Thank God we have not had another catastrophe,” she said.
The insurance policy was up for discussion at Thursday’s monthly regular meeting, but nothing was decided upon. Item number six, to consider additional property insurance coverage was deferred.
Board Member Guin suggested holding an insurance workshop between now and the time before the current coverage expires. The current and tentative coverage is set to expire by November 15. Following the workshop, the board will hold a special-called meeting before that date to cast an official vote.
The BPSB previously paid approximately $300,000 for property insurance in the last coverage period and according to the tentative policy, they will be paying over $1.36 million.
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