LAFAYETTE — After two failed efforts to block plans to convert David Thibodaux Career and Technical High School into an academy focused on science, engineering, technology and math, the Lafayette Parish School Board approved the move in a 6-3 vote Wednesday.
The action changes the high school, which opened with a small ninth-grade class in 2010, to the David Thibodaux STEM Magnet Academy. The high school already offers a middle school STEM academy on its campus for grades 6-8. The board’s action expands the STEM focus to grades 6-12 while retaining the high school’s initial mission of providing students career and technical industry-based certification and college credit.
The original plan for the Thibodaux Career and Technical High School was to have students receive their industry-based certification training on the high school campus, which would require extensive renovations to build specialized workshops and labs estimated at $47 million.
The board’s action Wednesday moves the specialized technical training from the high school campus to South Louisiana Community College through a partnership agreement that allows students who meet academic eligibility requirements to attend the college beginning in their junior year. Students would attend the college part-time.
Board member Rae Trahan proposed the board retain the high school’s original mission, but her motion failed in a 4-5 vote with board members Mark Allen Babineaux, Greg Awbrey and Tommy Angelle voting with Trahan in favor of her motion. Board members Mark Cockerham, Kermit Bouillion, Shelton Cobb, Hunter Beasley and Tehmi Chassion voted against retaining the current school structure.
The same five members rejected a motion by Babineaux to remove the issue from the agenda until the board approves its budget for the upcoming school year. The board had rejected the proposed district budget in a special meeting held earlier Wednesday afternoon.
Giving final approval for the change were board members Cockerham, Bouillion, Cobb, Beasley, Angelle and Chassion. Board members Trahan, Babineaux and Awbrey voted against the school change.
Also, Wednesday, the board voted 7-1 to approve the same redistricting plan as the Lafayette Consolidated Council. Board member Trahan opposed the redistricting plan and Awbrey and Angelle left the meeting before the vote was cast.