The Lafayette Parish School Board is set to begin a closed-door discussion Wednesday on the future of Burnell Lemoine, the school system’s superintendent of almost four years.
The board’s task at hand is deciding whether to extend Lemoine’s contract, which expires on Dec. 31, until May 2012. Board members tell both The Advocate and The Daily Advertiser that the potential contract extension stems from talks with Lemoine and time constraints in searching for a new school system leader. Lemoine has said during previous contract talks that he would like to retire:
The extension will provide more time to scout for a replacement and prevent an “awkward” mid-year transition, if Lemoine left in December, [Board President Mark Allen] Babineaux explained.
The contract extension, if approved, would mark the third time the board has granted a longer contract for Lemoine, a former LPSS chief academic officer who was promoted to superintendent in 2007 after the Board terminated James Easton. When Lemoine’s contract was extended in September 2010, the board said at the time it would allow Lemoine to finish out the 2010-2011 school year and give LPSS more time to find a new superintendent:
Forgoing a superintendent search to stay with an interim and renew his contract by small extensions, as has been done with Lemoine, is not traditional, especially with a larger-sized district like the Lafayette Parish School System, superintendent experts said.
Board President Babineaux tells The Advertiser that the search for Lemoine’s “not an emergency,” but some civic leaders and outspoken critics of Lemoine and the School Board disagree.
100 Black Men of Greater Lafayette recently asked the School Board to wait until it selects a permanent superintendent and a long-term education plan before asking voters to approve a new property tax, which would be used to fund the first phase of a $1.1 billion facilities master plan. LPSS has in the past spent its maintenance funds on other programs, leaving many of the district’s schools and other facilities in disrepair.
As part of the long term plan, 100 BMGL wants to see a significant decrease in the achievement gap that continues to place Lafayette’s poorest black students in the bottom bracket of education statistics. And if the board does decide to keep Lemoine in place, 100 BMGL and other civic leaders, like Cajundome Director Greg Davis, expect him to make the same tough decisions on how to improve the district’s scores and increase transparency for the public stakeholders.
Whether the board has taken the group’s property tax request seriously could be determined at Wednesday’s meeting; the meeting agenda calls for a discussion on placing the property tax proposal on a fall ballot.
The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the School Board office. Read more on Lemoine and the School Board here and here.
MAY 17 Here's a column from James Gill, this time in the Advocate. Gill, who has jumped ship from the Picayune, writes about the absurdity of dueling polls in this post. The numbers are so wildly different, it is obvious that both sides are "cooking the books," he writes. In particular, he looks at Sen. Mary Landrieu, and how her recent actions in DC have been received by those polled. Gill's acerbic, amusing prose is a welcome addition to a paper so conservative as to be occasionally lacking in personality.
MAY 17 Blogger Tom Aswell continues delivering bombshells about the state education department and Gov. Jindal's education "reform" efforts. In this post, he reports that students in the Shreveport area have been signed up for a charter school without their knowledge or consent. Most interesting to Aswell is how this Texas-based charter (with ties to GOP types) got the personal student information it has, if the students didn't give it.
MAY 17 This post by JR Ball in the Baton Rouge Business Report is an interesting tongue-in-cheek look at recent Baton Rouge economic development efforts. Among the items he examines is the idea that gaining a Costco makes BR a "world-class city." (Really? All you need is a different brand of Sam's? MK!) This effort, and other recent ones, are all built on the taxpayer's back, with tax zones, tax incentives and tax rebates, Ball writes.
MAY 17 Blogger CB Forgotston is critical of the legislature's reliance on a revenue-estimating committee's decision to include projected tax amnesty income in this year's forecast. That's a problem, CB posts, because the deadline for these people to pay their taxes is June 30, 2014. So when do you think these people who haven't paid taxes in years are going to pay their taxes? Surely not before June 30, and that means the money won't be there for this year's budget, he argues.
MAY 17 Here's an interesting blog out of California by a Hollywood writer, attorney and academic named Brian Alan Lane. He blogs about higher ed, and was a whistle-blower in a scandal over false credentials. In this post, he takes aim at LSU's new top dog, King Alexander. It's convoluted and a little confusing, but it sure makes Alexander a lot more interesting than he was yesterday.
MAY 17 Blogger Robert Mann writes about the LSU Board's refusal to allow Dr. Fred Cerise to testify before the legislature about Gov. Jindal's plan to close down all the state's charity hospitals and dump the poor on the private system. It's hard to imagine anyone more qualified than Cerise to testify about that, so why would anyone try to prevent him doing so? Mann thinks it is because the powers that be aren't interested in hearing any truth about the plan.
MAY 17 This post on the Louisiana Sinkhole Bugle, a blog that notes developments in the Bayou Corne and Jefferson Island salt domes, talks about a proposed expansion of the salt dome storage under Lake Peigneur in Iberia Parish. Residents are working against it for several reasons, including two biggies: the sinkhole disaster in Bayou Corne and the continuing, unexplained bubbling on the surface of the Lake.
MAY 17 NOLA police arrested more people Thursday accused of either being involved in the Mother's Day shooting or hiding the suspect afterward, this Gambit story reports. The NOLA police chief said he suspects the whole thing was gang-related and throws out a challenge to the gangs: he's got informants now, he says, and he knows a lot more than the gangs want him to know. The people who live in the neighborhoods terrorized by gangs are ready to talk, he says.
Is it a crime for citizens to photograph, video, or take notes of a police officer in the line of duty, or a right protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Locally, such activity, as witnessed recently, will at the very least result in a night spent behind bars.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
Episcopal School of Acadiana’s Dr. Joshua Caffery, chair of the school’s English Department, is headed to Washington, D.C., and the Library of Congress as the latest winner of the Alan Lomax Fellowship in Folklife Studies.