PLAQUEMINE — The Iberville Parish School Board approved a motion Monday to reduce itself down to a 13-member body following a passionate debate over district lines and proposed reduction models.
However, which board members will be walking away from the now 15-member board won’t be known until the School Board approves a new redistricting plan — currently being drafted by Glenn Koepp of Redistricting LLC.
The board approved the agenda item in an 11-2 vote, with board members Darlene Ourso and Pam George casting the dissenting votes.
Board members Dorothy Sansoni and Freddie Molden were absent from Monday’s meeting.
The motion to reduce the board’s size was introduced by Michael Hebert who said the School Board’s new district lines wouldn’t mirror those of the 13-member Parish Council.
But Ourso asserted that Koepp had told her the district lines would have to match the council’s in order to meet federal guidelines if the board chose to reduce the number of its elected members from 15 to 13.
Brian Willis said he favors a 13-member School Board, but he didn’t like the Parish Council’s representation map because it was too “spread out.”
“We got people coming all the way from White Castle to represent (people) all the way in Plaquemine,” he said.
Nancy Broussard tried to offer a substitute motion to reduce the board down to eight members while Ourso offered a third motion to have Koepp sketch redistricting proposals for a 9-member, 11-member and 13-member board instead.
Broussard’s motion died for lack of a second and Ourso’s alternative option was shot down by a majority of the board as well.
Michael Barbee called the board’s discussion Monday night “ridiculous” and said he didn’t see any problem with following the Parish Council’s model.
“It would throw me in a completely different district,” George retorted.
“But you can still represent the people,” Barbee said.
Shortly before Monday’s vote, Tom Delahaye asked the board to be honest and admit that item’s discussion was more about “incumbent protection” than properly representing constituents.
“What y’all are worried about is protecting that paycheck, and that shouldn’t matter,” Delahaye said. “If you can get elected in the district you live in, fine. If you can’t, life goes on.”