The St. Landry Parish School Board voted 9-3 on Thursday to temporarily put the brakes on hiring a new principal for Opelousas Junior High.

With that vote, the board sent a proposed advertisement for the job back to the Personnel Committee.

Opelousas Junior High has been without a full-time principal since December when former Principal Jude Victorian and Ricky Reed, a coach at the school, engaged in a fight inside the school building.

Following that incident, both men were placed on administrative leave with pay until March, when the board accepted their retirements.

Since December, the school has been run by an assistant principal with assistance from Willie Haynes III, a former principal at Melville Elementary, board President Anthony Standberry said during an interview after the meeting.

Haynes, also the former mayor of Melville, has been employed by the school district as a “floating principal.” In that position, which pays $70,000, he fills in as a temporary principal when vacancies occur.

To save the district money, some board members suggested there is no need to advertise for the principal’s position at Opelousas Junior High because Haynes is already at the school and is being paid the salary of a full-time principal.

Board member Mary Ellen Donnato said although the school needs a permanent principal, the district also should consider the financial aspect of paying both Haynes and another person the superintendent might recommend for the position.

“We need to sometimes consider the financial part. We continue to spend in a not-so-wise way,” Donnato said.

Board member Randy Wagley said the school system has 37 schools, but the district is paying 38 individuals as principals.

“It’s just time to eliminate this extra principal’s spot,” Wagley said.

Standberry said eventually it will be necessary to select a full-time principal in order to provide stability, because the school has been without a principal for at least half the school year.

Voting to send the matter back to the Personnel Committee were Donatto, Standberry, Wagley, Charles Ross, Milton Ambres, Raymond Cassimere, Hazel Sias, Roger Young and Albert Hayes.

Those voting “no” were Candace Gerace, Huey Wyble and Kyle Boss.

Board member Donnie Perron left the meeting before the issue was discussed.

In another matter, the board voted unanimously to call a special May 14 meeting to review the performance objectives and targets contained in Superintendent Edward Brown’s contract.

Board attorney Courtney Joiner said in an interview that state law requires superintendents to have performance objectives in their contracts that spell out what he will achieve.

Those objectives will be discussed in open session of the May 14 meeting, Joiner said.