[Editor’s Note: The following was released Monday by the Lafayette Democratic Parish Executive Committee.]
On April 29, 2017, the voters of Lafayette Parish will decide whether or not to fund $194 million dollars in improvements to our public schools by way of a ten year, ½ cent sales tax. While it is never easy to support an increase in our tax burden, this measure has come along at a time when we can no longer sit back and allow our school facilities to further decay to the detriment of the education of our youngest and most vulnerable.
The following text includes excerpts from the LaPESC (Lafayette Parish Public Education Stakeholders Council) press release in support of the tax initiative, which we endorse:
Great public school districts are created when the public and private sector, schools, and communities work together. We stand united with the business community in our support for this measure. We believe that an investment in the future of our children is an investment in the economic future of our parish.
Public education in Lafayette Parish has been historically underfunded. Currently 6,000 students, or 20% of our student population, are educated daily in ‘Container’ buildings. Anyone who has experienced the conditions of these buildings would find them unacceptable. These temporary classrooms suffer from leaks, noise, poor sanitary conditions, overcrowding and insufficient cooling. The proposed sales tax will, over time, replace 248 out of about 450 temporary classrooms districtwide. Temporary buildings will be replaced with permanent buildings or new classroom wings. In addition, aging and insufficiently sized cafeterias and restrooms will be replaced or improved, addressing forecasts for student population growth over the next decade. The estimated cost for this project is $194.5 million dollars.
LPSS has put forth a sensible measure, one we can afford and we should support. A clear plan has been detailed of how to prioritize and tackle the most immediate needs first. Moneys would be spread around parish schools for equitable distribution to all parts of our community. This tax measure cannot fix everything, but it will be a significant step in the right direction.
LaPESC recognizes the urgent need for improved facilities alongside of improved quality of instruction. We believe that the current LPSS Administration and Board have moved the system from an era of strife toward functioning education reform. We believe that this is a time when we should entrust LPSS with these resources. This is an investment in the future of our parish, at a fraction of the cost of previous tax proposals. Without this tax measure, we can be assured that our public education system will fall further behind state and national standards.”DPEC is encouraging the community to learn more about the proposed tax measure. We urge you to go to the ballot on Saturday April 29th and vote in support of this tax.