We use the word contract, because we as a board crafted the ballot language to impart the high level of accountability this sales tax demands. On the proposition in question, after reading the required legal language, you’ll see the following words:
...dedicated and used for any lawful purpose, including acquiring and/or improving lands for building sites and playgrounds, purchasing, erecting and/or improving schools and school related facilities within Lafayette Parish and acquiring the necessary equipment and furnishings therefor, subject to the limitations of Resolution No. 01-17-1896?
Voters should know the proceeds of the proposed half-cent, 10-year sales tax to remove Lafayette Parish’s 248 “temporary” classrooms are 100 percent dedicated to the stated purpose.
The key phrase is “subject to the limitations of Resolution 01-17-1896”. The resolution specifically listed in the ballot language is the list of 12 campuses where the funds will be used to eliminate the 248 “temporary” classrooms. According to an opinion issued by the Louisiana Attorney General’s office, Atty. Gen. Op. 98-421, the resolution’s inclusion in the ballot language binds the proceeds of the sales tax to that resolution.
This resolution is proposed to the voters of Lafayette Parish as a contract for the use of your hard-earned tax dollars. In much the same manner as a bank requires a construction plan when applying for a loan, we bring this document to you and ask for the money necessary to remove all “temporary” classrooms from 11 elementary schools and Lafayette High School.
Why take on this effort in particular? “Temporary” classrooms make up 20 percent of our school district’s classrooms, or one out of every five classrooms. That’s a staggering figure when one considers the intent of these structures: a quick fix to address sudden shifts in student population from school to school, from year to year. Unfortunately, these quick fixes have become a semi-permanent problem that at one time met immediate needs, but in the long run are failing our students.
These structures allow for overcrowding and overwhelming of our schools' core facilities like bathrooms and cafeterias which cannot expand to meet the larger student capacity forced upon them. They’re outdated. They’re unsafe. They were never meant to be a long-term solution. We’re asking your help in making a wiser investment in safe, permanent structures that better serve our students for decades to come.
Since the hiring of Dr. Donald Aguillard as superintendent, our graduation rate has increased from 68% to 75%. Our math and reading scores have increased as well, leading to a 7.1 point increase in our district performance score and putting the Lafayette Parish Public Schools on the cusp of being an A-rated school system.
These gains are entirely the result of hard work and dedication by the students, teachers, principals and other school based personnel who work with children every day.
As an elected board, we have focused on rebuilding public confidence in your school system. Accordingly, we dedicated this tax money as specifically as possible and ask for your trust to help deliver acceptable classrooms for the children of Lafayette Parish.
— Lafayette Parish School Board
Dawn Morris, President, District 7; Erick Knezek, Vice-President, District 8; Mary Morrison, District 1; Tommy Angelle, District 2; Elroy Broussard, District 3; Dr. Tehmi Chaisson, District 4; Britt Latiolais, District 5; Justin Centanni, District 6; Jeremy Hidalgo, District 9