Newly elected president Hunter Beasley mediated the Lafayette Parish School Board’s first lengthy discussion of the new year in reconsidering a one-time bonus for the school system’s support staff.

The Board voted 5-2 to distribute $559.13 by Jan. 24 to all full-time, hourly-paid employees who did not qualify for a December bonus distributed among teachers.

At its Dec. 18 meeting, the Board initially voted in favor of a one-time pay incentive for full-time support employees making $35,000 or less. But that item posed discriminatory issues, said Chief Financial Officer Billy Guidry, who noted that veteran employees could be left out.

Outgoing president Shelton Cobb, District 3, agreed.

“That has caused some problems not only for staff, but it’s creating morale problems while people were working out in the field,” he said.

Several employees to be affected by the distribution voiced concerns at the meeting.

Marilyn Lewis is a 26-year Lafayette Parish School System employee who started as a clerk and now works as secretary to the school system’s academics director.

“I feel as though you have deemed me, along with other experienced personnel, unworthy to receive this pay,” Lewis said, later adding that any exclusion “will only create a great deal of resentment.”

Robin Robinson, a paraprofessional at Ossun Elementary, said her salaried position that brings in “well under” $35,000 annually excludes her from the bonus.

“Teachers would not be able to do what they do without us,” Robinson said.

After nearly an hour of discussion — that ended in a computer system crash mid-meeting — the Board voted 6-2 to move the item to action, with newly elected Vice President Tommy Angelle, District 2, and Kermit Bouillion, District 5, voting against the measure.

Cobb nominated Bouillion for vice president, but he lost to Angelle 5-4. Rae Trahan, District 9, lost the presidency to Beasley, District 8.

In other LPSB business, Superintendent Pat Cooper announced the Academic Superbowl, a parental engagement event organized as part of federal requirements for Title 1 funding.

The Board also approved an agreement with the DeSoto Parish School Board to purchase nine diesel school buses, and it approved a bid to purchase pre-K playground equipment for 17 elementary schools.

It also approved an item to allow facilities planners to award J. F. Juge Construction of Prairieville a contract for renovations at the David G. Thibodaux STEM Academy.

Additionally, the Board approved bids for math supplies that will be necessary for PARCC assessments to be implemented in 2015 and for staff to advertise bid requests for new band instruments.