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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

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School Board rejects size reduction

School Board rejects size reduction

For the third time, the Lafourche Parish School Board has voted against reducing its size.

Wednesday night’s 7-7 vote to cut the board from 15 to nine members was:

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

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

Richmond Boyd was absent from the meeting.

In August, the board voted 8-6 against seeking legislation to change its size from 15 to nine and voted 8-6 in July 2016 to reject a proposal to reduce its size.

Huddleston, who added the agenda item along with Bernard, said she’s been approached in restaurants, grocery stores and walks with her dog by constituents who expressed their desire for the board to be reduced.

“I do hear from my constituents and I did cosponsor this with Mr. Bernard because my constituents asked me to do it, and they are the ones who voted me in,” Huddleston said.

State laws govern how and when school boards can take such an action, and the board’s attorney has suggested that legislative approval is required. Patrick Amedee, the board’s attorney, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Proponents have said a 15-member board is unwieldy and excessive and cutting the number to nine would save taxpayers about $58,000 a year in salaries. Opponents say the savings would have little impact on the budget and contend the action would diminish members’ ability to serve their constituents.

Some members have cited failure to reduce the board’s size as one reason voters defeated a proposed one-cent sales tax increase last May for school workers’ salaries and other expenses. Others said an oil bust that has persisted more than three years, costing thousands of local jobs, was more influential in the tax vote.

“A lot of times when you stand too close to the elephant, all we see is gray, and when we step back we see the full elephant,” Bernard said. “That’s basically the way I see us looking at the size of this board.”


-- Staff Writer Holly Duchmann can be reached at 857-2205 or Follow her on Twitter @holly_evamarie.