May 6, 2014 11:13 PM by Alex Labat

Lafayette Parish School Board Disagree over Budget

There wasn't even a school board meeting tonight, but Lafayette Superintendent Dr. Pat Cooper and the school board are butting heads. It all comes down to the budget, and Cooper's "100% In...100% Out" turnaround plan. It's Cooper's keystone, an effort to get the school system to an "A" district. But not everyone is "100% in" on this plan, and the superintendent is fueling speculation as to why.

Over the past month, the turnaround plan has been the topic of conversation at "Cafeteria Conversations" like the one held Tuesday at Carencro High School. But the rhetoric is heating up this week, with Cooper sending out this statement, insinuating that grudges might be stalling the turnaround plan:

"It's no secret the superintendent and the board don't see eye-to-eye. We have some serious decisions to make this year that I believe will make or break the future of this school system and ultimately the future of Lafayette. The COMMUNITY's '100% IN...100% OUT PLAN' will work if given a chance with funding. We have adequate funds in our general fund balance to take us through next year. And I have a strong belief and faith in this community that if we act responsibly, do our jobs, and show results the community will give us additional revenue. It is not fair to the children, teachers and community for members of the Board to dismantle the public schools simply because they dislike the SUPERINTENDENT or decisions made by me. I won't suffer but everyone else will".

Board member Greg Awbrey is one of Cooper's most vocal critics.

"Yes, there's going to be a shortfall this year, and we're being asked to fund more things when the programs that are supposedly going to be implemented are not opening. So we need to have the discussion with the superintendent. So instead of coming to the board with that, he went to the public", says Awbrey.

It all comes the night before the board will consider hiring new legal counsel to investigate Cooper, over some of his personnel decisions.

"So if this makes them feel better though, if they have that much of a vendetta against me as superintendent, I'm going to cooperate. I don't have anything to hide. I think it's a waste of time, it's a waste of money and it's a distraction. We've got a lot more important things to deal with," says Cooper.

Awbrey doesn't feel like the investigation is a waste of money, and says it's a waste of money that's lead to the investigation.

"Because we don't overspend. It's been that way for the seven-and-a-half I've been on the board. It's going to change this budget cycle. He needs to get used to that idea. We're not going to change just because the superintendent wants to call us names," says Awbrey.



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