BESE hopefuls split on Jindal pick

Five incumbents on the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education face re-elections that feature sharp divisions.

The races are:

DISTRICT 7, which matches two-term incumbent Dale Bayard, of Lake Charles, against Holly Boffy, of Youngsville.

The district is in southwest Louisiana and includes Lafayette Parish.

Bayard, a 58-year-old financial adviser, said if he is re-elected, he would not back Gov. Bobby Jindal’s choice of John White to be the state superintendent of education.

White, 35, is superintendent of the Recovery School District, which oversees troubled public schools.

Bayard, a Republican, said he in unsure how much he will spend on the race.

He has been endorsed by the Coalition for Louisiana Public Education, which includes superintendents, school board members and two teacher unions.

Boffy, 33, is director of professional development and university programs for the Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana.

She is a former state teacher of the year and said she is running because students need better representation on BESE.

Boffy, a Republican, said she plans to spend up to $150,000 on the race.

She is backed by Jindal and is expected to be supported by the Alliance for Better Classrooms, which includes Baton Rouge contractor Lane Grigsby and other business leaders.

DISTRICT 3, which matches 19-year BESE veteran Glenny Lee Buquet, of Houma, against Lottie Polozola Beebe, of Breaux Bridge.

District 3 covers much of far-south Louisiana, including Terrebonne, Lafourche and St. Mary parishes.

Buquet, 75, earlier said she would not seek re-election but changed her mind at the urging of Jindal, who is backing her bid.

Buquet, a Democrat, said she would support White for state superintendent.

She said she is unsure how much she will spend on the race.

Beebe, 58, is director of human resources for the St. Martin Parish school system.

She noted that Buquet has been on BESE for nearly two decades and that public education in Louisiana still draws criticism.

“As a policymaker, I think she should take some responsibility,” Beebe said.

Beebe said White “lacks the qualifications” to be state superintendent.”

Beebe, a Republican, said she plans to spend no more than $10,000 on her bid.

She is backed by the Coalition for Louisiana Public Education.

DISTRICT 1, which features incumbent Jim Garvey, of Metairie, against challengers Sharon W. Hewitt, of Slidell, and Lee Barrios, of Abita Springs.

The district includes St. Tammany Parish and much of Jefferson Parish.

Garvey, a 47-year-old attorney, said he wants a second term to continue school gains of recent years.

“Our graduation rates are up, the percentage of students that are operating on grade level are up,” he said.

Garvey, a Republican who is backed by Jindal, said he is unsure whether he would back White.

He said he plans to spend up to $180,000 on his re-election bid.

Sharon W. Hewitt, a 53-year-old homemaker and former oil firm executive, said Garvey is a product of private schools and that his children attend private schools as well.

“He doesn’t have any skin in the game,” said Hewitt, who is also a Republican.

She said that, if elected, she would want to consider a wide range of candidates for state superintendent, not just White.

Hewitt said she is unsure how much she will spend on the campaign.

She has been endorsed by the Coalition for Louisiana Public Education.

Barrios, 64, a retired teacher and journalist who has no party affiliation, said BESE needs a more bipartisan approach to public school issues.

Barrios said White is not qualified to be state superintendent of education.

She said she hopes to raise at least $6,000 for her race.

DISTRICT 2, which matches incumbent Louella Givens, of New Orleans, against three challengers.

The district includes much of Orleans Parish as well as St. John the Baptist, St. Charles, St. James and part of Assumption parishes.

Givens did not return two telephone messages over a two-day period.

Kira Orange Jones, 32, is executive director of Teach for America for the New Orleans area and once taught fourth-graders at Eden Park Elementary School here.

“We need the perspective of an educator who knows what children are capable of,” she said.

Jones, who said she would be less ideological than Givens, said BESE should “cast a wide net” in its hunt for the next superintendent.

She said she plans to spend up to $250,000 on her bid.

Also running is Pam Matus, a 51-year-old homemaker and former teacher from LaPlace.

Matus, who has no party affiliation, criticized White and said she would want to consider a wide array of candidates for superintendent.

She said she will spend only personal funds on her bid.

Ferdinand Wallace Jr., a 41-year-old real estate broker and appraiser, said changes are needed to rescue failing public schools.

Wallace, a Democrat, said he would want to review several contenders for superintendent.

He said he is unsure how much he will spend on the race.

DISTRICT 5, which features incumbent Keith Guice, of Monroe, and challenger Jay Guillot, of Ruston.

Guice, 69, is a retired educator, including 15 years as superintendent, and is seeking his second term.

The Democrat said White would not be his first choice for superintendent.

He said he is unsure what he will spend on the race.

Guice is backed by the coalition of superintendents and others.

Guillot is a 56-year-old engineer.

He said public schools need to be improved to make the state more competitive economically.

The Republican, who is backed by Jindal, said he plans to spend up to $130,000 on the race.

Guillot said he would want to review White’s résumé before deciding whether to back him for superintendent.