Walter Pierce

PAR backs Pastorek plan for school boards

by Walter Pierce

The non-partisan Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana is backing state school Superintendent Paul Pastorek’s bid to clamp down on local school boards, which many believe go overboard in micromanaging the affairs of their school districts. In a press release Thursday titled "PAR urges school board reform," PAR President Jim Brandt says, "Louisiana’s public education system continues to hug the bottom of most lists measuring quality and achievement. What is clear is that maintaining the status quo is not acceptable and change is needed now."

Among the measures endorsed by PAR: limiting the ability of board members to make hiring and firing decisions; requiring a super-majority of board members to fire a superintendent; term limits for school board members; paying board members on a per diem basis; and strengthening state nepotism laws that govern school boards and superintendents.

Pastorek spoke in Lafayette earlier this week in support of  his proposals to limit local school board power, a concept that has been both hailed as essential and railed against by many within the public-education community. Pastorek began studying reports of local school board micromanagement last year at the direction of the state Board of Secondary and Elementary Education and later proposed the reforms now endorsed by PAR.

Brandt concludes: "The reforms being proposed are logical and straightforward, and most of the debate surrounding them has more to do with turf battles than anything else. Rather than banish them to a task force, the Legislature should implement these reforms this session. No further study is needed."