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?
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.
Even though it had been rumored for months, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu finally pulled the trigger recently on a major campaign shakeup that moved control over to a few Big Easy insiders.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
It wasn’t the historic slashes to higher ed funding or the ensuing tuition spikes that recently had LSU’s student body and faculty riled up in collective outrage.
Urgent Care clinics unprepared for Ebola; Nazis collected Social Security; Hawaii dodges a bullet and more national and international news for Monday, October 20, 2014.
Monday's Blogs from the Bog!
Will $400 be enough for the re-election campaign of LPSB's Hunter Beasley to overcome two years of holding our school system hostage and hurting the education of our children all because of a personal dislike of the superintendent?
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said Friday he expects his playing status in Detroit to be decided by coach Sean Payton on Sunday, shortly before the game.
Lawmakers have sidestepped a decision on whether they accept claims from Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration that the state closed last year's books with a nearly $179 million surplus.
Coming off the high of a fourth quarter comeback against Tampa Bay and a helpful bye week, linebacker Junior Galette sees a real turnaround coming for New Orleans' struggling defense.
Former President Bill Clinton, the Democratic Party's most popular surrogate this fall, is heading to Louisiana early next week for a campaign rally with U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
Time and again you hear people say DA Mike Harson is unbeatable because he's doled out political favors over the past 20 years. But a new lawsuit could end that speculation.
After the season's signature win (so far), here are some helpful tips for Cajun Nation during the conference stretch.
Did the state close last year's books with a surplus or a deficit?
Practicing without limitations on Wednesday, running back Mark Ingram looked ready to return to a New Orleans offense that once again ranks among the NFL's best when the Saints play at Detroit on Sunday.
It’s been decided: Superintendents of Louisiana’s public school system will retain the controversial powers granted by Act 1 of the 2012 session.
Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy has a bone to pick with the Jindal administration, which recently — surprise! — announced that the state ended the most recent budget year with a $178.5 million dollar surplus.
The messaging battle, however, isn't tied to individual campaign accounts. Third-party groups have poured millions of dollars into advertising.
With her political future in jeopardy, Sen. Mary Landrieu is turning to a natural constituent base in her re-election bid.
Terrance Broadway threw for a touchdown and rushed for 113 yards to lead Louisiana-Lafayette to a 34-10 victory over Texas State on Tuesday night.
Aligned with the party of an unpopular president, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu sought to keep her distance from the Obama administration, against claims from her chief Republican challenger Bill Cassidy that a vote to re-elect the Democratic incumbent was a vote for Barack Obama.
Seven people in Louisiana and two others in Mississippi have been arrested in connection with an international online sales scam.
Despite the hype and potential misinformation to have spread in the wake of Mark Cockerham’s recent departure from the LPSB, his candidacy for reelection is still on — now with the backing of the Chamber's Empower PAC.