NEW IBERIA — The Iberia Parish School Board voted 11-2 on Wednesday to purchase five used buses at a cost of $125,000 to be used for athletic games.

Board member Robbie LeBlanc said he didn’t think the board should be spending that much money on athletics.

“We’re in the academics business not the athletics business,” he said.

Board member Clara Carrier said she didn’t see why students should be forced to ride a school bus if they didn’t want to and if the parents volunteer to drive their own vehicles.

“It’s their choice,” Carrier said.

Board member Elvin Pradia said there were many reasons he introduced the motion.

Insurance was one. The school system may still be liable for students if they ride with someone else to a game and there’s an accident.

He said the bus would allow students to be covered under the board’s insurance if an accident takes place.

Pradia added another reason was cost to the parents and the schools.

Schools are spending up to $500 a game to rent a bus, he said. Parents are being asked to foot as much as $20 just to send their children to a school function.

Board member Joel Dugas said some schools pay more than $30,000 a year to rent buses.

Carrier asked why buses the board owns cannot be used for the games.

Dugas said the board could and does rent school buses for games, but many of the games that take place in the spring start at 3 p.m. and it is not feasible to use parish school buses.

Board members Pradia, Dugas, Raymond Lewis, Kenric Fremin, Kathleen Rosamond, Dan LeBlanc, Danny Segura, Kenneth Lockett, Edwin Buford, Rachel Segura and Arthur Alexander voted for the motion.

LeBlanc and Carrier voted against it. Board member Jesse McDonald was absent.

MORTGAGE PAYMENTS: Also, Pradia asked legal adviser Wayne Landry to write a resolution asking Historic Renovations Inc. to pay the system $173,260 in delinquent mortgage payments or face foreclosure.

HRI owns the former New Iberia High School building at Pershing and Center streets.

Landry said the remaining $85,000 on the mortgage was never paid, and the interest has increased to $88,260 since it was purchased in 1993.

Landry said the board has the option to take the property back, which would give it ownership of the business, or foreclose and sell it. No action was taken on the agenda item.