Cooper: LPSS needs to shed social club status

by Heather Miller

The Lafayette Parish School Board voted 6-3 Wednesday night to fulfill Lafayette Parish School System Superintendent Pat Cooper's request for a new assistant to oversee facilities and maintenance projects and save this [district] some money.'

The Lafayette Parish School System will soon be advertising for a new job opening following Wednesday's school board meeting, where board members voted 6-3 in favor of creating a new position fully dedicated to overseeing facilities and maintenance projects.

The Advocate reports that board member and Couillon of the Year nominee Tommy Angelle, joining fellow board members Mark Babineaux and Greg Awbrey in voting against Cooper's request, implied during the meeting that the new superintendent already has someone pegged for the job and recommended that Cooper hire from within the system. Board members Hunter Beasley, Kermit Bouillon, Tehmi Chassion, Shelton Cobb, Mark Cockerham and Rae Trahan voted to fulfill Cooper's request.

Awbrey noted that the salary for the job, $68,000, is equivalent to positions within LPSS that require a master's degree, while Babineaux contends that the duties of the new position already fall into the job description of superintendent:

Academic requirements for the position should require job candidates to show "that they learned basics in business, architecture, construction, in managing, engineering. I think this is inadequate with just a high school diploma," [Cooper] said.

An employee with those skills could save the district "hundreds of thousands" of dollars, "if not millions," Cooper continued.

"As superintendent, I don't know how much it costs to remove asbestos," Cooper said. "I've got a hundred other things to do, Mr. Babineaux ... The actuality of it is this district has spent a lot of money without doing the negotiations and without doing the bartering ... I want someone to say we're not going to run a social club anymore. I want someone who is hard-nosed and can save this (district) some money."

Read The Advocate's meeting coverage here.