It’s perhaps not surprising that Ascension Parish School Board District 1, on the west bank in the Donaldsonville area, generated a runoff race.
The district, with a history of low-performing schools, had the most candidates of any School Board district for the Nov. 22 primary, with five contenders for the seat left vacant when incumbent Catherine Davis decided not to run.
On Dec. 6, the election comes down to candidates Robyn Penn Delaney, who’s retired from a business career, and Jevella Williamson, a retired principal.
Delaney garnered 34.05 percent of the vote in the Nov. 4 election. Williamson came in second, with 20.56 percent of the votes, nudging out Dwayne Bailey, who had 20.02 percent of the vote.
After the election, front-runner Delaney said she “was pleased with the results.”
“A lot of the people know I’m dedicated to the community and dedicated to the children,” she said, adding that she’s volunteered in the community for more than 20 years.
Williamson said after the election that she thinks she may pick up many of Bailey’s voters in the runoff.
“I’ve met with him, and we’ve talked,” she said.
“We can support her; I think we’ll move that way,” Bailey said. “She is an educator; she does have 35 years in the school system.”
Both Delaney and Williamson said they are continuing to get out and knock on doors and meet with voters.
“They’re concerned about the bullying,” Delaney said of what she’s hearing from Donaldsonville residents.
Also, she said, “they want to make sure the community is more involved” in the school district.
“They feel there’s a breakdown between the central office and the community,” Delaney said.
High turnover of teaching staff and waiting lists for some of the early childhood education programs are other concerns of residents, she said.
From her talks with residents, Williamson said the constituents “are interesting in improving the schools.”
“When I speak to them, I say that one way we could improve schools is to improve reading and look at the overall picture of how the community impinges on the schools,” Williamson said.
She’d like to see seminars for parents that would give them skills to help their children improve in reading and math and give their children “a desire to learn.”
“How the homes, the schools and the community work together, that total involvement is the key,” Williamson said.
She said she’s also heard concerns from residents over a lack of preparatory courses for the ACT and SAT college entrance exams.
The winner of the runoff election on Dec. 6 will be the fifth new face on the School Board next year.
Others new to the board are Scott Duplechein, District 2; Julie Blouin, District 3; Shawn Sevario, District 5A, and Louis Lambert, District 6B.
Incumbents continuing in office, who won races in their districts or had no opposition, are Kerry Diez, District 4A; John Murphy, District 4B; Taft Kleinpeter, District 5B; Lorraine Wimberly, District 6A; Troy Gautreau, District 7A; and Pat Russo, District 7B.