OPELOUSAS — The St. Landry Parish School Board on Thursday appointed accountant Stephen Woods as a temporary replacement for board member Quincy Richard Sr., who was convicted last month of bribing a former candidate for school superintendent, Joseph Cassimere, in September 2012 and who is appealing his conviction.
Woods received the most votes among eight candidates appearing before the board and declaring their intent to temporarily fill the board’s District 10 vacancy. Richard’s conviction suspends his right to hold public office until all appeals related to the matter are exhausted, board attorney Gerard Caswell has said.
Former board member John Miller also was charged in the case and pleaded guilty earlier this year to a bribery charge.
At the time of his bribery conviction, Richard was serving his second term as a School Board member since pleading guilty in 2004 to a felony charge of filing false record when he purchased grades for his wife from Southern University.
“This is not a true vacancy and at this point it does not warrant a need for (the board) to call for a special election to fill the vacancy,” Caswell said Thursday. The temporary vacancy (for which Woods was appointed) will last for I do not know how long.” Once the appeals court signs an order approving Richard’s intention to withdraw his appeal, Caswell said the board will be required to hold a special meeting to name an interim appointment for District 10 until a special election is called.
Other applicants for the temporary District 10 vacancy who spoke at Thursday’s meeting were former St. Landry Parish Police Juror Howard Austin; Opelousas businessmen Patrick Fontenot, Melvin Richard and Donald Vallen; former Opelousas police Officer Paul Gennuso; and schoolteachers Joanie Jason and Matthew Washington Sr.
Other items discussed during Thursday’s meeting included:
GENERAL FUND BUDGET: The School Board unanimously approved a $103 million general fund budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year, which started July 1. It indicates an anticipated $935,405 surplus.
Finance Director Tressa Miller said the board has until Sept. 30 to submit an approved budget to the state Department of Education. She said the district will have to spend $1.6 million for increased employee retirement costs and she expects a $300,000 decrease in employee insurance premiums during the fiscal year.
St. Landry will also receive $1.29 million in state Minimum Foundation Program funding based on the number of enrolled students, but salaries for additional teachers due to retirements will cost the district another $1 million, Miller wrote in a statement. The district will lose another $460,000 in MFP funding due to the increase in the number of students attending charter schools, she said.