The Jefferson Parish School Board could vote Wednesday on whether to elect veteran member Ray St. Pierre and relative newcomer Melinda Doucet as its president and vice president for 2016, even though such elections are typically held later in the academic year.
Both are members of the same board faction as current President Cedric Floyd, whose tenure has seen some controversy, including a grievance filed against him by the board’s staff secretary, who later resigned.
Even if they are elected early, the new officers would not take office until next year.
Floyd said he scheduled the officer elections for Wednesday because he may be out of state for the birth of a grandchild in December, when elections normally take place.
“I put it on the agenda for (Wednesday) to get it out of the way,” said Floyd, whose current vice president is St. Pierre. “I intend to support Ray St. Pierre for president and Melinda Doucet for vice president, and hopefully others will join me.”
School Board officers serve 12-month terms and can’t serve consecutive years in the same capacity. Among other things, the president is in charge of running regular meetings and calling any special ones necessary for the body governing Louisiana’s largest public school system.
Floyd said the experience that St. Pierre, a retired educator, has accumulated since first being elected to the School Board in 2002 makes him ideal for the presidency. St. Pierre was president when Hurricane Katrina devastated the New Orleans area in 2005, Floyd said.
School Board members Mark Morgan and Marion “Coach” Bonura concurred in praising St. Pierre.
“Ray ... is deliberate, thoughtful and rational,” said Morgan, who often disagrees with Floyd on policy issues.
Bonura said St. Pierre frequently has useful ideas that don’t occur to other board members simply because he has more experience on the board than they do.
Floyd said Doucet — who was first elected to the board last year — would be a good fit for vice president because as a public school parent she brings a helpful perspective to the panel.
Bonura said her newcomer status would balance out St. Pierre’s long tenure.
St. Pierre said he’d make it his priority as president to rally support for a proposed bond issue and property tax increase that would finance $200 million in new school buildings. He said he and other officials have been fine-tuning the details of the plan, which was discussed at a meeting last month but then tabled.
St. Pierre said the plan would modernize the school system and ensure its long-term success for its nearly 50,000 students.
For her part, Doucet said, “I’d be honored and very willing to serve this board as best as I can.”
Floyd, St. Pierre, Bonura, Doucet and Ricky Johnson form a teachers union-backed School Board faction that gained a majority during last year’s elections. Morgan is unallied, while Larry Dale, Melinda Bourgeois and Sandy Denapolis-Bosarge form a faction backed by Jefferson’s business community.
Floyd and St. Pierre were unanimously elected president and vice president in early January. Morgan considered running for president but didn’t when it became clear Floyd had the votes to win.
Perhaps Floyd’s most decisive step as president has been to win 5-4 approval of a collective bargaining agreement with the district’s teachers. The last agreement lapsed in 2012, and the previous board — which was dominated by the business-backed faction — blocked its renewal.