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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

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Lafourche residents offer input on next school superintendent

Lafourche residents offer input on next school superintendent

Residents told the Lafourche School Board Saturday that they want the parish’s next public school superintendent to be visible in the community.

About 40 people attended a forum the board held at Central Lafourche High School to gather input as it searches for a successor to Jo Ann Matthews, who will retire in March.

“We have big shoes to fill,” said Valerie Bourgeois of Raceland, who was among about half a dozen residents who offered their views. “The person that I see taking this position has to have a vision for our district to continue to be the A district that we are. They also have to be a good communicator and visible.”

Other residents said the next superintendent should have teaching experience, listen to the community and understand how financial decisions impact students.

“As a product of Lafourche Parish schools as a student and teacher, it is important to me that we choose the right leader moving forward,” said Tyler Dufrene of Raceland. “I would really like to see a superintendent who is a fresh face to this parish.”

Dufrene was one of the few who suggested the School Board look outside the parish for its next superintendent, while others believed the best fit for the position will come from within.

“I personally believe that if we choose someone from the inside, nothing’s going to change. We need fresh ideas and someone with the courage to challenge those who are currently in power,” he said.

Residents who believe the superintendent should come from within the parish say the next leader needs to understand the system in which they work, while others say a fresh face can offer fresh solutions.

Nearly every resident who spoke mentioned the need for visibility by the next superintendent.

“As we move forward in selecting our next superintendent, I think we need to look at the issues at hand,” said Cody Blanchard, a Thibodaux resident. “We have a disconnect with our citizens and the school district, as well as our businesses and the school district. We all have to be in sync for the success of our school district.”

The superintendent should be available to everyone and visible in school and business functions throughout the parish, Blanchard said.

“Sometimes it’s important to get a second opinion for another look,” said Blanchard. “We should also look for people outside of the district, who have had successes.”

Applications for the position are due to be submitted by 4 p.m. Aug. 31 at the School Board office in Thibodaux. Selected applicants will be interviewed on Sept. 29, and a new superintendent is to be chosen at a special board meeting on Nov. 1. The next superintendent’s contract is set to begin on Dec. 21.

-- Daily Comet Staff Writer Scott McLendon can be reached at 857-2204 or Follow on Twitter @mclendon_b