It was like a tale of two cities Thursday night for Lafayette Parish School System.
|LPSB member Mark Allen Babineaux|
At the LITE Center a group of about 80 civic and business leaders gathered to unveil a report called “Common Vision for Our Future,” which lays out 12 priorities for the superintendent and school board, including a renewed focus on the school system’s 100% In/100% Out turnaround plan, early childhood education, school wellness programs and student-based initiatives.
Across the highway, however, inside the school system offices, a much different story played out as Superintendent Pat Cooper and the school board attempted to hammer out a budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
The school system is faced with a budget deficit of more than $18 million (with about $70 million in its reserve fund). Despite Cooper's suggestion that the board dip into its rainy day fund to keep the turnaround plan alive, the board voted 6-3 against the idea.
Since Cooper took over as superintendent in 2012, some board members have been setting up roadblocks wherever possible to undermine the success of the turnaround plan.
But perhaps the most flagrant attack on the turnaround plan came with a set of suggested budget cuts recently submitted to the school system from board member Mark Allen Babineaux. (Read more on Babineaux's resistance here.)
“We need to take a ‘picture’ of what we were doing before the ‘turnaround’ plan was initiated, take count of how many people were doing what and at what cost and use that as a benchmark to start any cuts or reduction in force,” writes Babineaux in his letter dated May 30.
So Babineaux wants to gut the turnaround plan and revert to a status quo that existed before Cooper’s arrival, when the school system was C-rated.
His suggested cutbacks include doing away with the health and wellness program (a key component of the turnaround plan), the community relations department, the mental health department, new textbooks for getting the school system in line with the new Common Core curriculum, and a complete dissolution of the alternative program at N.P. Moss.
In response to Babineaux’s suggestions, Cooper — who starts out by noting that some of Babineaux's suggestions would violate state and federal laws — writes:
I would ask the question of motivation to Mr. Babineaux. Is it quality education or some other reason for suggesting that we break state and federal law by not providing an alternative site thereby making life more difficult for teachers by sending the troubled students back into the regular classrooms to disrupt instruction?
Do you really want to cut out a very successful Community Relations Department that has done more to give transparency to the system than any other single thing?
Do you really want no textbooks and materials to carry us into common core?
Too many of our children are sick, mentally, emotionally, physically, and you want to cut out what is some of their only access to health care? We have had several suicide attempts and many threats, and you do not want us to provide for our children’s mental health needs even though experts agree that is the most troubling problem for our youth?
As I stated in the beginning, some board members thoughtfully approached the task at hand, but these requests from Mr. Babineaux are absurd. I sincerely hope that we can keep personal animosity out of deciding what our children, teachers, and employees need and deserve.
We reached out to Babineaux hoping for an explanation (actually we wanted to know if he was serious or if his letter was some kind of sick joke), but Babineaux called our question “petty” and hung up the phone.
So we're left to wonder: Just what is Mark Allen Babineaux smoking?
City-Parish President Joey Durel is asking the council to sign off on a resolution approving a pair of deals that would lead to razing the seedy Lesspay Motel at Four Corners to build a new police substation as well as transforming nearly a block Downtown where the old federal courthouse building now molders into a mixed-use development.
In 2013, the IRS — already the least popular governmental agency in the country — became the target of intense investigations after it was revealed that they had specifically and improperly scrutinized applications for tax-exempt status from organizations associated with the nascent Tea Party movement.
Improving the running game was "a point of emphasis" during the offseason and the results have manifested themselves in the form of substantially greater production.
Louisiana's health department said Wednesday that its evaluation of the state's Medicaid privatization was on target, despite criticism from the legislative auditor that it lacked key data and contained inconsistencies.
Artificial sweeteners eyed; Scottish independence vote begins; Ford has cancer and more national and international news for Thursday, September 18, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
The feds converge on your office, seizing records on several employees as part of a pay-for-plea investigation. WWYD? If you’re Mike Harson, you give yourself a $12k raise.
It’s football season and after back-to-back winless weekends for the Saints and the Cajuns many citizens are finding it difficult to be civil much less happy. Well, chew on this.
Considering his repeated stays in the local penal system, David Narcisse Jr. should have known that having a semiautomatic shotgun, even one given to him by a friend, wasn’t the brightest of ideas.
A state district judge on Tuesday threw out a last-minute retirement hike lawmakers gave to the state police superintendent, ending a political firestorm over a pension boost passed without public scrutiny on the last day of the legislative session.
The House has passed a bill to increase oversight of veterans' hospitals under construction, following a report that some medical centers take three years longer to complete than estimated and cost an extra $366 million per project.
An obvious follow-up question for any Republican politician who accuses Democrats of being science deniers is one about science, to which Jindal bobbed and weaved like a welterweight champ.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council is expected to decide tonight (Tuesday) whether to go along with a proposal City-Parish President Joey Durel made in February’s State of the Parish Address and consolidate taxes for mosquito control and the parish health units into a broader tax program that would also cover animal control.
U.S. District Judge Richard Haik has dismissed Greg Davis’ lawsuit against the LPSB, yet in his ruling, the federal judge doesn’t bite his tongue in pointing out the "threat" being posed by certain board members.
Of all the political offices being contested throughout Lafayette Parish, the race for Broussard’s top police post has literally become one of the most heated.
A state district judge is deciding whether to issue an injunction against the enforcement of a last-minute retirement hike that lawmakers gave to the state police superintendent.
A new website is up for Louisiana's state government employees and retirees to choose their health insurance plans for next year, a choice they must make by October.
That fact that New Orleans led both games in the final 10 seconds of regulation, and lost each by a field goal or less, is of little solace.
The superintendent will make another go at getting a budget passed for the already commenced fiscal year as the LPSB is slated to meet tonight on the eve of the state’s budget adoption deadline.
A person familiar with the situation says New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram has a broken hand.
It seeks an investigation into a $100,000 fund transfer from Vitter's federal campaign account to an independent PAC supporting Vitter's 2015 candidacy for governor.
Landrieu has acknowledged that she improperly billed her Senate office for nearly $43,000 in charter costs that should have been paid from her campaign account.
House District 45 Rep. Joel Robideaux is term-limited and running for city-parish president next year, leaving his seat up for grabs come 2015 and at least three likely contenders so far, including ...
When the Browns explained their plans to Brian Hoyer about bringing rookie Johnny Manziel into the game, Cleveland's starting quarterback bit his lip and devised one of his own.
National debate over solitary confinement puts spotlight on Angola inmate’s 35 years in ‘the hole’