I understand and very much appreciate that this current Lafayette Parish School Board wants to have a balanced budget. The community wants that, too. However, there are many problems in our schools that have to be addressed — discipline, aging schools, overcrowded schools, large classroom sizes, students entering school unprepared to learn, just to name a few issues that have been plaguing our schools for so many years that it has become somewhat overwhelming to address. And to top it off, the state removed funds to support what they mandated on our school system, leaving us struggling even more to find the money to support those mandates.

This board wants to go line by line and tell the superintendent what he can spend money on instead of sitting down and talking with the superintendent about how to address the major concerns in our schools. I do not think that this is the best or wisest way to go about cutting the budget. This board needs to address the needs of our schools and the needs of the students that will attend these schools and make sure that the programs and plans set into place will address these concerns, thus giving all students the best chance at a better education.

Pat Cooper shared a vision for our community which addresses these concerns in our schools. Is the plan perfect? Probably not. But I have yet to hear what School Board members would offer if they pull out of the “100 Percent In/100 Percent Out Plan,” which is what is happening piece by piece in this budget process that they are involved in now. What will this board put in its place if they remove the programs that have been put into place to service our children?

What the public needs to know is that Cooper offered our school system a way to buy time for probably two years so that the Lafayette Parish School System would not have to let go of employees and not have to cut programs that address student needs and education of all students. But that would require dipping into the reserve funds and possibly the 2002 Sales Tax Fund. And during this time, board members and the superintendent could evaluate the success of these programs and tweak them as needed.

If given a real chance, the plan could work and help our children excel in our schools. But for that to happen, board members and the superintendent have to agree what the plan of action will be for our LPSS. And all stakeholders must be held accountable for our part in the education of all children.

Ella Arsement

parent volunteer, Lafayette Parish School System