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Sunday, July 21, 2019

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School Board rejects size reduction

School Board rejects size reduction


The Lafourche Parish School Board voted 8-6 Wednesday night to not seek legislation to change its size from 15 to nine members to match the Parish Council’s size.

The board’s vote was:

For: Ray Bernard, Mary Breaud, Dennis Chiasson, Marian Fertitta, Brooke Huddleston, Gregg Stall.

Against: Al Archer, Richmond Boyd, Julie Breaux, Calvin Duet, Clyde Duplantis, Gary Foret, Ann Sanamo, Louis Thibodaux.

Raymond Toups was absent from the meeting.

The ongoing debate on whether the board should be reduced to save money was brought back up after a one-cent sales tax increase for Lafourche Parish failed in late April.

Proponents of the size reduction said their constituents support a smaller board. Huddleston and Breaud said they received hundreds of emails in support of the reduction, and both received only one email from someone who was unsure.

Huddleston voted against the reduction last year because she didn’t want some areas, like south Lafourche, to be under-represented. She said the amount of constituents who told her they want the board reduced led to her change of mind.

“Being from the south, I didn’t want the voice of the south to be squandered,” Huddleston said. “But the voice of the south, to me, has come out. The tax failed. They want to see a smaller board.”

Boyd said if the board wants to save money, it should consider reducing or removing its pay.

However, Stall said members tried to reduce their pay in the past, but that failed in committee.

Duet, Breaux and Foret said they believe this topic should have been brought up and discussed at a committee meeting before being added to the agenda.

“Instead, several board members went behind our back and went behind closed doors about a week and a half ago and met to discuss this,” Duet said. “The president was not made aware of it. I have a problem with that.”

Fertitta said it was clear who was for and against the size reduction, and decided they would talk to the superintendent about it. Any board member has the right to request an agenda item be added without going through a committee, she said, and nothing was done to try to blind-side anybody.

The request for this topic to be added to the agenda was made on July 19 by Bernard, Breaud, Fertitta and Stall.