LAFAYETTE — The grassroots effort that pushed for the development of a facility fix for Lafayette schools now has a PAC behind it.
Last month, the Community Coalition for Lafayette Schools organized the political action committee “Invest In Our Children’s Future” as the fundraising arm “to get the truth out there” about a $561 million bond proposition on the Oct. 22 ballot, said Diana Lennon, the PAC’s chairwoman.
“We wanted to get the truth out there — get the facts out there — and let the people decide. We need money to do that,” Lennon said.
The PAC has so far raised about $10,000, Lennon said.
The money will be used for push cards, signs and radio and TV advertising, she said. It also has a website: http://investinourchildrensfuture.org with photos and video of school conditions.
The coalition of community members organized about four years ago after the League of Women’s Voters presented the School Board a video that chronicled deplorable school conditions. The 2007 video sparked the group’s formation and led to a recommendation that the School Board seek professional help in developing a master plan.
In October, voters will decide whether to support the implementation of the master plan’s first phase, which includes the replacement of seven schools:
• Lafayette High.
• Northside High.
• L.J. Alleman Middle.
• Carencro Heights Elementary.
• n G.T. Lindon Elementary.
• Katharine Drexel Elementary.
• J.W. Faulk Elementary.
Also, it includes classroom additions and renovations for:
• Alice Boucher Elementary.
• Broadmoor Elementary.
• Evangeline Elementary.
• Ridge Elementary.
• Scott Middle.
A new auditorium for Comeaux High, and maintenance and repairs for all other schools would be funded.
The proposition involves a 23-mills property tax, as well as an additional 2-mills property tax specifically for maintenance.
Both millages are dedicated — a fact that has been misconstrued, Lennon said.
“The 23-mills is for the facilities plan only. It will go in a separate account and cannot be used for teacher raises, transportation or any other use. The 2 mills for maintenance is for all of the facilities,” she said. “There are separate accounts. They have to be audited. There is a lot of transparency and accountability in this process.”
Lennon is one of the inaugural members of the Community Coalition for Lafayette Schools. Her children attend two of the schools tagged for replacement: Alleman Middle and Lafayette High.
The group’s goal is to provide the community accurate information about the proposition, she said.
The school system’s outreach falls along the same lines.
State law prohibits the use of public funds to advocate for the tax, so the school system’s outreach is purely educational, said Angela Simoneaux, the district’s marketing and student recruitment coordinator.
Soon, the school system’s website will offer a one-stop page that answers residents’ frequently asked questions about the master plan and the proposition.
Rather than providing direct answers to those questions, the page offers links to the documents — or first-hand source of those answers, Simoneaux explained.
“It’s things people can look at for themselves and make up their mind based on the facts. I think that’s what people need and what people want,” Simoneaux said. “They don’t want someone telling them what to do. They want to figure it out for themselves.”
She said the page will include information with direct links to the master plan, what the first phase entails, system budget info, comparisons of school spending with other districts, formulas to calculate property taxes and its impact on homeowners.
People will also be able to submit questions to the site and the answers will be posted.
Within the community, the League of Women Voters and the Lafayette Democratic Executive Committee have endorsed the tax increase, while the TEA Party of Lafayette is encouraging voters to “vote no” on its website.
The Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce is expected to announce where it stands on the tax next week.