OPELOUSAS — St. Landry Parish School Board voted 10-2 Thursday to spend $2.53 million for 35 new school buses.
Board members Hazel Sias and Milton Ambres voted against the purchase after arguing unsuccessfully that all the new buses should be air conditioned.
“You have a lot of students riding these buses that are three to a seat. In this heat, that’s not a good idea,” said Sias.
Transportation Director William Thibodeaux said only one of the purchased buses — the one for handicapped students — is air conditioned.
Finance Director Tressa Miller said ordering buses with air conditioning would have added $225,000 to the cost.
“We were told (in committee) that the budget would not allow this. We have other priorities that are more important,” board member Donnie Perron said.
Because the school district is financing the cost of the buses over five years, Ambres argued, the price of air conditioning would not have immediately affected the budget.
US Bancorp will lend the school system the money to buy the buses at a 1.61 percent interest rate that will cost $70,350 over five years, according to the committee report.
Voting to buy the buses were Anthony Standberry, Charles Ross, Harry Fruge, Candace Gerace, Perron, Roger Young, Kyle Boss, Randy Wagley, Huey Wyble and Raymond Cassimere.
Board President Josie Frank did not vote.
In another matter, the board voted 10-2 to declare a state of emergency to accept proposals for roof replacements at Arnaudville Elementary and Port Barre High.
Board attorney Gerard Caswell said the emergency declaration would allow the district to get proposals following a 30-day advertisement period rather than putting the jobs out for bids, which would take longer.
Arnaudville Elementary Principal Elsie Semien said the roof problems at her school affect the computer lab.
Assistant Superintendent Joseph Cassimere said the roof leak at Port Barre is in the welding shop, which would become dangerous when machines are being used.
Sias and Ambres voted “no” on the issue. Standberry, Ross, Fruge, Gerace, Perron, Young, Boss, Wagley, Wyble and Raymond Cassimere voted for the roof emergency.
The board also voted unanimously to revise the deadline date for teacher transfers to other schools.
The transfer deadline accepted on Thursday moves the date up from July 30 to July 16.
Semien appeared before the board in April and said the July 30 deadline was too close to the start of school.
Caswell, however, advised against setting a June 15 deadline. It would be better if school principals had more time discuss a transfer date, he said.