BUSINESS

School Board seeks financing for construction

PETER SILAS PASQUA ppasqua@postsouth.com

PLAQUEMINE — The Iberville Parish School Board voted to approve a resolution giving preliminary approval to seek $6 million to pay for $11.5 million in new construction projects across the district at its regularly scheduled June meeting that began a 22 minutes late and lasted two hours.

The board voted 12-1 to sell up to $6 million in revenue bonds to be repaid in 14 years through a property tax approved in 2008.

“It will hardly be a better time to borrow than now with interest rates,” Superintendent Ed Cancienne said.

Board member Dorothy Sansoni was the lone dissenting vote.

“I can’t support this,” Sansoni said. “Iberville Elementary needs an expansion. We built a new school without a cafeteria. This amount of money is ridiculous for the amount of kids there.”

Sansoni was referring to nearly $7.5 million to be used at MSA-East for a gymnasium and art building.

“If ya’ll keep spending, we are going to be broke before it is over,” Sansoni said.

In another related matter, the board approved millage rates to be levied on 2014 tax rolls and approved insurance and personnel committee meeting recommendations for the need of additional teachers.

Sansoni, Darlene Ourso and Pam George voted nay.

“I was told next year we would have to look at cuts,” it was said. “We don’t have an alternative school anymore and it clearly states that.”

Then board member Brian Willis said “you retarded” to Ourso.

More arguments came when discussion arose approving student handbook revisions.

Sansoni questioned why there were different handbooks for different schools to which Cancienne replied “MSA does some things other schools don’t.”

“It seems like you are discriminating against other schools,” Sansoni said. “This is trouble. You can’t govern one school one way and another school another way. There should be one dog on handbook.”

Chief Academic Officer Elvis Cavalier then replied, “Maybe you should run the academy.”

Sansoni finally requested that everyone gets a copy of MSA’s handbook.

“It is always easy to question when we know we are doing the wrong thing,” Sansoni said.

In an earlier presentation by Cavalier about the Central Office Leadership Team, he said, “It is very clear the academy had a big time impact.”

Ourso then asked, “What are you doing to make the other schools successful.”

“You are the Chief Academic Officer but I see your presence mostly at MSA-West. I see things at the academy you don’t see at other schools. I want the kids to love to go to school at everywhere.”

In an unrelated matter, Ourso requested that the May meeting minutes reflect that she made a second motion to appoint Scott Allen as district athletic director.

The board retroactively ratified Cancienne’s appointment of Paul Distefano on Feb. 3 to the position.

Ourso claimed Allen was appointed to the position in 2012, which pays $83,247, but did not receive the same pay and employee benefits as Distefano, a former school board member, currently has.

Ourso and Nancy Broussard voted against the appointment.

Finally, the board heard from a citizen’s coalition concerned about the culture at White Castle High School.

“We have an extreme issue with the decline of school working relationships with students,” Henry Jackson said.

Former White Castle football coach Ferrante Dominique said school culture goes beyond test scores.

“A “C” school is not acceptable,” Dominique said. “It is about children on the corners with their pants hanging down.

“I love being a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”