LAFAYETTE — In a 5-2 vote Wednesday, the Lafayette Parish School Board awarded a contract to CSRS Inc. and Architects Southwest to manage millions of dollars in proposed school construction and repair projects.
The contract is contingent upon voter approval on Oct. 22 of a $561 million bond issue to fund the projects — identified in a facilities master plan as priority needs.
Board members Kermit Bouillion and Shelton Cobb voted no.
Voting in favor were members Hunter Beasley, Rae Trahan, Mark Cockerham, Mark Allen Babineaux and Tommy Angelle.
Tehmi Chassion abstained.
Greg Awbrey was absent.
Two people spoke in opposition to the contract and questioned the timing of the award prior to the tax election.
“You’re entering a contract that you don’t have the money to pay for now. Why are you entering into this contract now?” questioned Nancy Mounce.
The tax will be a difficult sell given the current economic climate, said Carol Ross, who is affiliated with the Tea Party of Lafayette.
The two firms proposed a rate of 3.3 percent of the construction costs and committed to more than $3.6 million in services at no cost, including assistance in making community presentations about facility needs before the property tax election.
Mounce questioned the firms’ offer to “promote” the tax when public dollars would be used to fund the contract.
SUPER SELECTION: The board also debated for about 20 minutes over how to set up its selection process for the next superintendent.
Beasley proposed that one representative from both the Lafayette Public Education Stakeholders Council and the 100 Black Men of Greater Lafayette sit on the selection and interview committee along with the full board and make a recommendation on the top three candidates from a pool of 10 applicants who will be interviewed for the job.
Angelle and Trahan pushed for each board member to be able to select two representatives out of fairness to each district.
Teacher Karen Martin, president of the Lafayette Parish Association of Educators, reminded the board that she has requested that her group, or any employee group, be represented on the committee, as well.
Beasley clarified that his recommendation was not specific to his district and the groups represented a cross-section of Lafayette.
The proposal was approved 5-3 with Bouillion, Cockerham, Cobb and Chassion joining Beasley in favor. Babineaux, Trahan and Angelle voted against it.
Eleven people have applied for the superintendent job and interviews could begin in October. The top three will face questions from the public in a forum tentatively set for Nov. 30.
The board will then select two finalists, with final selection set for Dec. 7.
Superintendent Burnell Lemoine plans to retire at the end of the year when his contract expires.
The public can start helping shape the questions that will be asked of candidates during the first of six scheduled public forums at 6 p.m. Thursday at Thibodaux Career and Technical High School, 805 Teurlings Drive.