The Lafayette Parish School Board voted 6-3 Wednesday to spend about $875,000 to prevent midyear staffing changes that would have moved four teachers and 15 administrators to other jobs within the school system.
The vote comes a week after the board voted on Dec. 8 not to fund those same positions, requiring the board to implement its reduction-in-force policy. Although layoffs were prevented by shifting teachers and offering administrators classroom teaching jobs, on Wednesday board member Tommy Angelle asked the board to consider using a portion of $1.1 million in sales tax revenues to ensure students’ classes aren’t disrupted.
The vote retains 11 assistant principals, four deans of students and four teachers for the remainder of the school year. The positions had been excluded from the board’s 2014-15 budget and were not included in the board’s budget revision last week.
Voting Wednesday in support of the $875,000 expenditure were board members Melinda Mangham, Kermit Bouillion, Hunter Beasley, Angelle, Shelton Cobb and Tehmi Chassion. Voting no were board members Greg Awbrey, Mark Babineaux and Rae Trahan.
Before the vote, Carencro High student leaders appealed to the board to retain the positions. Last week, their principal, Ken Roebuck, said he was set to lose two assistant principals and a dean of students.
“Without them there, I don’t know what would come of Carencro or any other high school,” said Destiny Venable, Carencro High student vice president. “Nobody here is a student. Nobody here understands the impact. Nobody sees the students’ point of view.”
Rollan Moore, an assistant principal at Alice Boucher Elementary, told the board his job would be cut if the board didn’t support the budget revision Wednesday. He said he was offered a transfer to Acadiana High to teach business.
“I ask that you give me until the end of the year and have two months to transition, rather than two weeks over the break,” Moore said.
Before the vote, Chassion said he’d support the budget revision, but noted that budget cuts are in the school system’s future as it prepares for the 2015-16 school year.
Although 16.5 teacher slots were impacted by last week’s decision, the remaining 12 positions were vacant. As staff devised a plan to prevent layoffs, principals worked to find spots for impacted teachers, which led to consolidating or collapsing some classes, Interim Superintendent Burnell LeJeune said.
Initially, Angelle proposed retaining only the administrative positions, prompting board members Awbrey and Mangham to question the impact on students if the teaching positions remained out of the budget.
“You know what collapsing classes means? That means students are going to get other teachers. We’re going to be doing that instead of removing administrative positions,” Awbrey said prior to the vote.
Human resources director Bruce Leininger said that at a few schools, principals consolidated classes based on enrollment. Some principals opted not to fill open positions where it’s been difficult to find a teacher, such as a welding class, he said. At a few other schools, principals closed classes when a teacher resigned or retired and dispersed those students to other classes.
“Generally speaking, where classes were collapsed, the student-teacher ratios are below what your standards are,” Leininger said.
Prior to the vote, Mangham said she doesn’t want to see administrators displaced either, but suggested the board consider another funding source rather than sales tax collections.
“When we talk about money, we’ve got this money, but we live in an oil-and-gas community, folks. Have you seen the price of oil lately? I know the money’s in the pot right now, but there are issues there.”
Also on Wednesday, the board met with its attorney, Bob Hammonds, in executive session to discuss a demand letter from Carencro High Principal Ken Roebuck and Carencro Middle School Principal Spurgeon Banyard related to a change in their contracts.
The board then voted to authorize its attorney to negotiate with the principals’ attorney. The two principals were placed on a 244-day salary schedule by former superintendent Pat Cooper in violation of board policy, board attorney Bob Hammonds said after the meeting.
The deviation from the salary schedule of other principals was one of the charges the board made against Cooper that led to his termination last month.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.