School-spending plan OK’d

Lafayette to fund projects with $30 million from bond sale

The Lafayette Parish School Board voted 8-1 Wednesday to approve a plan for spending $30 million from a bond sale for school construction and repair projects.

About $14.3 million will be used to help alleviate overcrowding at Green T. Lindon Elementary and Youngsville Middle schools by building a new classroom wing on each campus. The remaining money will pay for major expansion and renovations at David Thibodaux STEM Magnet Academy; a new cafeteria and major renovations for L.J. Alleman Middle; and major renovations at Lafayette High and Northside High.

Board member Greg Awbrey was the lone board member to vote against the spending plan for the bond money. Board members Mark Allen Babineaux, Mark Cockerham, Kermit Bouillion, Shelton Cobb, Hunter Beasley, Tommy Angelle, Rae Trahan and Tehmi Chassion voted in favor of the spending plan.

Awbrey didn’t cite any objections to the proposed plan prior to his vote. Following the meeting, Awbrey said his main objection was the proposal to spend about $950,000 on new windows at Northside High. He said the money could be better used to address more pressing safety issues at other schools.

“I’m not opposed to spending money at Northside High, but I do oppose spending it on windows,” he said.

The six school projects will be funded by the bond sale and an additional $3 million set aside in the district’s capital projects fund.

The board’s approval of the spending plan is the “first step in many that this board will be taking in the future to ensure that we become an A (rated) school district,” Bouillion said.

The board also approved in an 8-1 vote the creation of a community advisory committee to integrate its district academic turnaround plan with its facilities master plan, which was developed in 2010. Awbrey cast the sole vote against the committee creation.

In other action, the board unanimously approved the creation of the Lafayette Parish Fund for Excellence in Public Schools, a fund that will be managed by the Community Foundation of Acadiana. It also approved a partnership arrangement with the privately operated NoDropouts program, which recruits dropout students and helps them complete their degree.

During the meeting, Chassion, Babineaux and Awbrey questioned why new principals had been appointed at Carencro High and Acadian Middle without advertising for the positions and interviewing candidates. The appointments conflict with board policy, the board members said.

Both decisions were due to an “emergency situation,” said Sandra Billeaudeau, district assistant superintendent.

When Chassion asked her to elaborate on the emergency, Billeaudeau said it involved a personnel issue that would need to be discussed in private with the board.

After discussion of the appointments, Superintendent Pat Cooper said he would make the appointments temporary and open the positions for applications.

At the meeting, the board recognized two teachers for their accomplishments.

J. Wallace James Elementary physical education teacher April Judice was recognized for her selection as the Louisiana Association of Health, Physical Education Recreation and for Dance Teacher of the Year Award.

Green T. Lindon Elementary physical education teacher Nicole Dupuis and her students were recognized for raising more than $12,690 for the Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser. The school’s fundraising efforts were fourth in the state.