|Wuestemann, left, and Cooper|
Funding has been pulled from PACE — a learning-focused arts program designed to spark creativity among the elementary students in the Lafayette Parish School System — according to a letter sent Tuesday to Superintendent Dr. Pat Cooper from Acadiana Center for the Arts Executive Director Dr. Gerd Wuestemann challenging the LPSS' decision.
Since its inception 14 years ago, PACE — which stands for Primary Academic Creative Experience — has been paid for by the school system’s annual cut of federal Title I dollars. The program is administered through a partnership between the school system and the AcA, which oversees hiring and training of the program’s teaching artists. Fifteen such teaching artists slated to begin teaching next week have been given their pink slips.
In Tuesday’s letter, AcA Executive Director Dr. Gerd Wuestemann writes:
Back in April AcA expressed great concern to the [LPSS] administration for the need to be able to communicate to our teaching artists whether they’d have a job in the fall. It was not until August 5th that AcA finally had to inform artists that PACE was dead. AcA is astounded by LPSS’ level of disorganization and miscommunication during this process. If Dr. Cooper and LPSS are indeed focused on pursuing Arts-in-Education as part of a turn-around plan, AcA would applaud the effort and would do anything to assist. We are extremely concerned about this recent development and greatly saddened by the loss of this program.When the June edition of IND Monthly featured the article “Keeping P.A.C.E?,” we reported Cooper saying the program’s fate was not 100 percent sealed at the time. Yet, he also didn’t mince words when saying the only real chance it had of survival would be nothing short of a miracle, meaning an unforeseen increase in the LPSS Title I fund allocation. (The Ind was unable to reach Cooper for comment on this story.)
We have to prioritize our school level funding first, then we have to use a certain amount of the Title I money for parental involvement, and we have pre-K funded through Title I. Those are all mandated priorities. PACE is like fourth on the list. I hope we’ll have enough money left over, but right now we still don’t know.According to Tuesday’s letter from Wuestemann, the situation — especially AcA's receiving notice of the program’s end so late in the game — could have been handled better by school system officials, including Cooper.
We asked for an explanation but were never afforded one, only given a statement that LPSS was still ‘exploring options.’
Over the following two months AcA was promised on multiple occasions ... that the system was piecing together $100,000 in the arts specialist’s cost center to preserve some form of PACE. In addition AcA would link to another existing arts grant to flesh out offerings and save the core of this program, keeping it on life support.
In a message from ... July 24th we were instructed to prepare contracts for some version of PACE for $100,000. However, this instruction was rescinded on [Aug. 2] and we were told to hold off on preparing contracts. The suggestion was made by the administration that the $100,000 in funding was based on matching funds by AcA. This is a false claim: at no point in the discussion of the budget was this part of the conversation. AcA’s education department by this time had already spent much effort on designing a scaled down curriculum, discussed jobs with teaching artists and produced budgets based on $100,000.
On [Aug. 5] AcA was finally informed that LPSS would attempt to bring the program ‘in-house’ for this year — a week prior to the start of the new school year. No longer was there talk of having any money for PACE in the budget, or of AcA running the program.
Facing opposition from a powerful industry, the governor and many in the Legislature, a New Orleans-area flood board's lawsuit against dozens of oil, gas and pipeline companies seemed doomed early on.
Thursday’s explosion aboard an oil production platform in the Gulf of Mexico is now under investigation by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
Money from the first and only settlement so far in a Louisiana flood board's lawsuit against dozens of energy companies will be placed in a special account dedicated to coastal restoration.
BP is heading to a federal appeals court in its effort to oust the administrator of damage settlement claims arising from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The 59-41 Senate vote was one shy short of the 60 needed to clear the House-passed measure.
Spot bonuses to employees who go above and beyond on projects one of several reasons national mag calls BR-based biz bank a cool place to work.
The Director Search Committee interviewed the five men still in the running via video last week and is set to trim the field this week.
Telecom’s decision to halt deployment to more than 100 cities while it awaits net-neutrality rules appears to be little more than a temper tantrum.
Environmental (and political) junkies got a double fix when The Lens hosted a discussion between its environmental writer and the lead attorney in the levee board suit.
Follow The IND to hear Lens environmental reporter Bob Marshall's interview with Gladstone Jones, the lead attorney in the lawsuit against the oil and gas companies for coastal damages.
The $35B deal leaves the burning question about what it will mean for the thousands of these two service giants' local employees.
Broussard & David set up shop at the corner of Jefferson and Vermilion.
in light of falling oil prices, Forbes asks, “Will there be more?”
Lake Charles lets Acadiana companies in on the action as our neighbor to the west prepares for unprecedented growth.
A new study analyzes the state of the Lake Charles region and the impact 19 industrial projects will have on residents.
A U.S. magistrate judge calls “garbage” on behavior of attorneys for Progressive Waste Solutions.
The Lafayette food truck scene is slowing down but not stopping.
Lake-area financial institutions seeing green.
As the Lake Charles region ramps up for record-setting growth, ABiz lays out the challenges and opportunities ahead for South Louisiana.
Who was hired and promoted in Acadiana business?
Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns are driving innovation in Louisiana.
The boom is coming, and McNeese is ready for it.
It’s time for Lafayette and Lake Charles to embrace “coopertition.”
We can make Acadiana — in reality and reputation — the best place in the South for a great career in an idyllic family environment.
Lake Charles’ technical community college wasted no time developing programs to prepare the area’s workforce.