Mais Oui

Half a Penny for Lafayette Parish Public Schools? While we’ve been critical of past tax proposals for LPSS, the vote this time is clearly yes.

by Cherry Fisher May

Two of our grandchildren graduated from Comeaux High School.

The other four attend local public schools. One is a junior at Lafayette High and could be taking Algebra II in the same Butler building that I did in 1970 (buildings now called temporary classrooms), which begs the question: Should my former classroom still be considered temporary after 47 years?

Our two youngest grandchildren attend L. J. Alleman Middle School. Perhaps you’ve seen the video of kids just like them struggling through the pouring rain to get from the temporary campus to the main one. Alleman has a system for dealing with this soggy mess.

Once students get inside, they change into gym clothes, throw wet uniforms in a dryer, sort through the dry ones at the end of class and change for the next one. (Their books, projects and homework get soaked in the requisite mesh backpacks.) The pounding rain on the metal roofs of temporary classrooms is so deafening that teachers can’t teach. In a real deluge, students are held in place and miss class altogether.

LPSS maintains 420 temporary classrooms. At many schools the metal campus equals or dwarfs the brick-and-mortar one. They are expensive to maintain, heat and cool, and provide poor learning environments. They do not reflect the value we place on educating our children nor the pride we take in our community.

On April 29, voters in Lafayette Parish can begin to fix this by passing a 10-year, half-a-penny sales tax (food and drugs are exempt). With that we can replace more than half of the temporary classrooms in our system by building Phase I of a new campus for LHS, new schools for Prairie and Carencro Heights and permanent wings at nine other schools across the parish. Voters could then decide whether to renew the tax to finish the job.

Good schools make Lafayette Parish more attractive for business expansion. They keep kids engaged, which means a lower dropout rate, less crime and better economies. Our school system is moving up in the rankings and deserves our support to be the best it can be. While we’ve been critical of past tax proposals for LPSS, the vote this time is clearly yes.