Dec 19, 2011 11:38 PM by Shawn Kline

Board says 21% salary increase not too much for superintendent


Is that too steep a salary for the Lafayette Superintendent? That's the salary Dr. Pat Cooper was asking for to become the parish's new top educator.
For the school board, the decision wasn't an easy one. It came down to a split decision.

5 for. 4 against. It was just that close; one vote away from having a new superintendent or starting the whole search process again.

"I think we got probably the best superintendent in Louisiana for sure," Hunter Beasley said of his vote, approving Cooper's terms.

Lafayette is the state's sixth largest school system.
With the stroke of a pen, Dr. Cooper will become the state's fifth-highest paid superintendent. His contract will cost the school board more than 20-percent more over the man he's replacing: Burnell Lemoine.

Five board members called that increase fair. Four others, like Tommy Angelle, say the demands were just too high to vote yes.

"I call the traits of wanting this money, wanting this protection, wanting the taxpayers to pay for 100-percent of his insurance," Angelle says, "those are some of the traits I disagree with."

Angelle, Greg Awbrey, Rae Trahan, and Mark Babineaux all voted to reject Cooper's minimum requirements. Mark Cockerham, Tehmi Chaisson, Kermit Bouillion, Shelton Cobb, and Hunter Beasley approved them.

Those in support of the contract admit the new superintendent's salary may be well above the state average but it still falls short of the national average.

Beasley says he's tired of settling for just that: the average. He says if you want the best, you have to pay for the best.

"So you feel $190,000 a year is a deal?" I asked Beasley.

"I do. I do," he said.

Dr. Cooper is expected to be in Lafayette on Tuesday to sign that contract and he'll be working part time through January and take the position full time starting February 1st.



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