Tatman leads hopefuls for School Board president

The fight to determine who will replace Barbara Freiberg as president of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board may prove to be not much of a fight at all.

Board member David Tatman is expressing guarded optimism he will have the six votes needed to become president of the School Board when the 11 members choose their new leaders Thursday.

“It’s the will of the board, but given the conversations I’ve had, I feel pretty good,” said Tatman, who joined the board in 2011.

No one appears to be seriously opposing him.

Jerry Arbour, who served as president from 2008 to 2010, said he is not planning to seek the job. “At this point, I would probably not let anybody put my name into nomination for the president or the vice president,” said Arbour, who joined the board in 2005.

Arbour said he is instead pursuing a spot on the board of the Council of Urban Boards of Education, an urban-focused arm of the National School Boards Association, and should know by early February whether he has it.

Arbour said he will throw his support to fellow board member and ally Randy Lamana.

Lamana, however, said he talked to Arbour about running, but hasn’t talked to anyone else about his potential candidacy.

“I won’t decline the nomination, but I haven’t pursued the idea,” said Lamana, who joined the board in 2007.

Tarvald Smith, who has served as the board vice president since 2010, has long sought to become the board’s president. He has said he hasn’t been willing to do the “deal-making” required these days to land the job.

“I would like to be president, but if I can hold onto vice president, I’m going to do what I have to do to make that happen,” said Smith, who joined the board in 2004.

Tatman said he isn’t making any deals with fellow board members to secure the board presidency.

“As I have walked around and talked to people, I talked to them about why I think I would be the best person for the job,” Tatman said.

Tatman points to his governmental and organizational experience running his own firm, The Tatman Group, which counts many governmental associations as clients.

Arbour and Smith are both self-employed lawyers. Lamana works for Chisesi Brothers Meat Packing Company in Baton Rouge.

Tatman said he wants to build on the transparency efforts of the past two years, including putting all the background information for agenda items online in advance of meetings.

“A lot of things I’m talking about are building on what Barbara has already done,” he said.

Freiberg said she still plans on stepping aside after two years as board president. She was elected right after she joined the board, one of six new board members who took office in 2011.

“It was a wonderful experience,” she said. “I just want other people to have the opportunity.”