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Aug 17, 2010 5:13 PM by Melissa Canone

13 School Board Candidates' Responses to Issues in the Races-Question 1

FACILITIES:
The Lafayette Parish School Board has approved a master plan that includes a schedule using today's costs for repairing, renovating, and replacing many of its schools. It has been vetted by the community. How would you implement the plan?

Lafayette Parish School Board
District District 1

Mark Allen Babineaux running unopposed
(No response offered.)

Lafayette Parish School Board
District 2

Greg Davis
I understand that the Lafayette Parish School Board (LPSS) has not approved the master plan. They have received the plan but have not acted on the plan. Their first responsibility is to use current tax dollars to deliver quality education in properly maintained facilities. The facility master plan addresses part of their responsibility. It does not address their inability to deliver education to all children that result in high graduation rates and high academic achievement. Before we can implement a facility master plan, we must develop the long term comprehensive education plan that moves Lafayette parish to number one in the state. Less than 2% of the population vetted the CSRS plan and zero percent have vetted the economic plan.

Tommy Angelle
Implementation of the facilities plan should proceed as it was developed....with input from the community. The oversight committee being proposed by the current board should be engaged in the process along with the board. This would help keep focus on the plan developed at considerable cost to the board and avoid the impression that politics was driving the plan or major changes to the original plan. A series of public workshops should be held at each school to let each individual school community see what the plan has in store for their particular area. Implementation of the plan, even in phases, will require additional revenue sources. The community oversight committee could serve to explore potential means of funding and report recommendations to the board for action.

Lafayette Parish School Board
District 3

Shelton J. Cobb running unopposed

(No response offered.)

Lafayette Parish School Board
District 4

Tehmi Chassion
I can't answer the question because the School Board has not approved the master plan just yet. Nonetheless, I disagree with a large percentage of it. Each cost needs to be reviewed in detail to determine its necessity and how it relates to the ultimate goal of bettering our educational system. In the state of our economy, we can provide an excellent education for all the children of the parish, all the while, staying within the confines of the budget. One major pressing issue is the state of elementary education, where the foundation for all learning takes place, and the resources to remedy it. Another priority should be on the safety of the physical learning environment of many of these schools, and how it can be detrimental to the health and education of our kids.

Gwen Harris
The master plan that has been vetted by the community and accepted by the Lafayette Parish School Board was developed by Architects Southwest CSRS. This organization was carefully based on the needs of this school system. The budget section of this plan does reflect adjustments for cost escalation as facilities will not all be completed within the same time frame. Therefore I would adhere to the structure provided (plan) by those who were given the facts to work from. In the future, I would cooperatively agree to work adjustments when the need presents itself.

Lafayette Parish School Board
District 5

Junius "June" Andres
With the economy in the state of disarray and the public Anti-Taxes sentiments, funding sources for the Master Plan must be identified. I would implement the plan as follows:
A. Identify if any monies in the General Fund Budget that can be used to fund the plan.
B. Go to the Public for a one cent dedicated Sales Tax for facility improvement.
C. Identify and begin work on facilities that are in most need of repairs, renovations or replacements.
D. Monitor the work being performed.

Kermit Bouillion
The Master Plan should be implemented in stages. It is very important to prioritize maintenance items and projects in the interest of safety, immediate urgency, and those necessitated by functional obsolescence. This master plan must be implemented gradually. The Board should use a "pay as you go approach" for repairs and preventive maintenance and should be based on bond revenues in regards to building new. This would insure sound financial responsibility. The long-range financial obligations should not be based on sales tax revenues or projections. Further, if a property tax is to be considered as a base for accomplishing the goals of the plan, such a proposal should be made only after confidence can be secured in our School Board working as a team and only after a time of local economic recovery.

Dean Landry
he learning environment is far more influenced by teachers and principals than by bricks and mortar. Let's first focus on increasing grade-level achievement and graduation rates. That said, many schools need to be renovated or replaced. In reviewing the Master Plan Phase 1 ($592M), replacement estimates seem inflated. For example, Leblanc Elementary in Vermilion Parish will open in fall 2011 for $16.7M for 825 students, but the projected replacement cost for Green T Lindon is $24.8M for 750 students. Why not reprioritize the budget and direct the millions saved, first to urgent maintenance needs, and then to renovation and replacement of facilities? In our uncertain economy, tightening the budget and paying as you go makes more sense than raising taxes or issuing bonds.

Lafayette Parish School Board
District 6

Greg Awbrey
Implementation should occur in the order that was given to us by CSRS. The master plan should not stop the school system from making changes to educational programs that the parish needs to continue to keep pace with the changing needs of our students. Implementation of the master plan is mainly dependent on the availability of funds to pay for them. Maintenance issues should be handled separately from the replacement of facilities. If we are to use existing school system funds by bonding out MFP or general fund money, the timeline for implementing the plan is going to be so drawn out that current estimates won't be realistic. Deferred maintenance might be handled that way but there is no way to replace entire schools on any kind of a plan schedule using existing funds.

Dudley E. LaBauve, III
There is no question that our system needs replacements, upgrades, and maintenance, but I am not supportive of a tax to fund a project I believe to be overpriced. Nor can I support asking the public for more tax money until the budget is vetted, and we have a clearer picture of what it will cost to achieve 95% graduation rates and 95% of our students performing at or above grade level. The Plan contains good data on project funding options, implementation, staffing, etc, but only after the LPSS Budget is under control, can we really determine what resources are available for facilities spending. I believe we can restructure the budget and achieve the more urgent deferred maintenance needs of our school facilities, without raising taxes.

Lafayette Parish School Board
District 7

Mark Cockerham
At this time the School Board has not formally approved the master plan. I would phase in the plan by assessing the schools that need the most attention.

Thomas Brown
Selecting a superintendent would be paramount to the implementation of the plan. A national search should begin with these instructions:

* Examine the master plan for the repairing of the structures our students are presently housed.
* Evaluate the educational plan for the use of schools and research a cost factor for renovating.
* Finally, check the feasibility of replacing or building new schools with budget revisions and reoccurring revenue sources.

Lafayette Parish School Board
District 8

Hunter Beasley
At this time the plan has not been formally approved by the School Board. However, I have talked with the Superintendent on August 5 and indicated that I would like the issue to be added to the Board meeting on August 18th.

The extent of the implementation of the plan would be dictated by Board approval and potential funding sources.

Arlecia Hill
As an educator, I understand the urgency in creating a plan to care for facilities. If the facilities are inadequate, then learning is interrupted. The master plan's purpose is to support current and future educational programs by evaluating the needs of the learning environments around the district. The items that are on my implementation agenda include creating a prioritized action school list, planning conversations, similar to the community dialogues, with students of the parish and UL-Lafayette various departments, and designing a Volunteer Parent group. This group of diverse and highly motivated parents would be divided into elementary, middle, and high school levels and communicating with the public through pamphlets and emails.

Lafayette Parish School Board
District 9

Rae B. Trahan is unopposed

(No response offered.)

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