Passed over last week for the top position in the Jefferson Parish Public School System, Acting Superintendent Michelle Blouin-Williams said Wednesday she nevertheless hopes to retain a leadership role in a district she’s been a part of for 26 years.
The man who beat her out for the job as the long-term successor to former superintendent James Meza isn’t opposed to that. But incoming superintendent Isaac Joseph also couldn’t immediately commit to keeping Blouin-Williams on in a similar capacity, saying he’d turn his attention to assembling his executive team later.
Blouin-Williams was the school system’s deputy superintendent under Meza, who was hired on an interim basis in 2011 before his contract was renewed through 2014. She has been the interim superintendent since Meza’s retirement at the end of January.
However, with six applying to be Meza’s long-term successor, the Jefferson Parish School Board on April 15 selected Joseph not Blouin-Williams.
Joseph came out on the right side of the 6-3 board vote. The School Board on Wednesday night unanimously approved a contract that would give Joseph — a 29-year veteran of the district that was most recently its executive director of grants and federal program — an annual salary of $200,000 for a term beginning May 1 and running through Dec. 31, 2016. That had been amended from a proposed annual salary of $230,000 and a term that ran through 2017.
That outcome means Blouin-Williams will soon revert to her prior position of deputy superintendent. Her annual pay will drop from what amounted to a salary of $225,000 as acting superintendent to $157,100, which was what she earned per year under Meza.
Nonetheless, Blouin-Williams on Wednesday said that did not diminish her zeal for a school system that she first joined as a math teacher in 1989.
“I’m invested in this school system — same dedication, same intentions,” Blouin-Williams said. “I’m just excited to continue the work we all do everyday for our students, their families and our employees.”
Beyond May 1, Blouin-Williams said, she will follow the lead of Joseph’s administration.
Joseph on Wednesday said his main focus for the coming days will be identifying the most pressing needs of the parish’s schools. After that, Joseph said, he will fill out his staff with people he considers to be the best fit for each job.
A business community-backed School Board faction that chose Meza lost a majority on the panel in the last round of elections. The three remaining members of that faction — Larry Dale, Melinda Bourgeois and Sandy Denapolis-Bosarge — voted for Blouin-Williams on April 15.
A faction aligned with the teachers union now holds the majority, and its members — Cedric Floyd, Ray St. Pierre, Ricky Johnson, Melinda Doucet and Marion “Coach” Bonura — voted for Joseph. Mark Morgan, an unallied swing vote, cast his ballot in favor of Joseph as well.