Walter Pierce

Forces continue to gather around school boards

by Walter Pierce

The move to neuter local school boards continues to gain momentum. Citing the state’s bottom-feeder status in public-education achievement, the Council for A Better Louisiana and the Louisiana Association of Business & Industry unveiled in Baton Rouge a legislative package aimed at making local school boards more effective.

The legislation, filed by Rep. Steve Carter, a Baton Rouge Republican, echoes reform proposals put forth by state Superintendent of Education Paul Patorek and features six changes to local school boards:

â- Bar individual school board members from interfering in personnel matters (hiring, firing, etc.) best left to the superintendent
â- Require a super majority of board members to hire/fire a superintendent
â- Clarify nepotism laws pertaining to school boards
â- Replace salaries with per diems
â- Prevent board members from obtaining school-system health insurance
â- Limit board members to three terms (Lafayette Parish already has term limits)

CABL president Barry Erwin defends the proposals, saying there “is nothing in this reform to prevent a good school board from continuing its good work. Though some local boards may do a good job of governing for our students,” Erwin adds, “many are focused on the micromanagement of their district’s operations and interfering in personnel decisions.”