School Board reduces redistricting choices

PETER SILAS PASQUA ppasqua@postsouth.com

PLAQUEMINE – The Iberville Parish School Board voted to reduce 12 proposed redistricting maps to four at its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday night.

Those plans are expected to go before the public in the board's effort to decrease its number of seats from 15 to nine to abide by a law it previously believed didn't have to follow.

"The only deadline you are up against is the election qualifying deadline," William Blair of Redistricing LLC told the board.

The board tentatively set a public hearing for the proposals at its next meeting Dec. 9 after 20 days is given to review the plans which can be accessed through their website.

"They weren't easy to find," resident Linda Johnson said.

Johnson said the number of maps confuses the general public.

The law spurring the board's move was presented by former Sen. Rob Marionneaux of Grosse Tete and mandates a reduction to eight single-member districts and one at-large.

"I think that plan better recognizes the community," board member Yolanda Laws said in reference to Plan A that would form two minority districts in the greater Plaquemine area.

Board member Darlene Ourso also questioned the board's website along with the number of plans that were to be presented to the public.

"Plenty of people haven't seen our maps," Ourso said. "Three came in today that I haven't been able to look at."

The board would eventually approve Plan 3, Plan 5 and Plan 4.1.1 for further consideration.

"It is called democracy," board member Tom Delahaye said. "There are other people in the greater Plaquemine area that aren't necessarily for Plan A."

The district's School Performance Scores released by the Louisiana Department of Education was also presented before the board showing continued improvement.

"It is a team effort but the teachers are the ones in the classrooms and they are the ones who have to implement it," board member Polly Higdon said.

The system improved to a C letter grade from a D grade the previous year with most schools moving up as well.

"It is not about one school," board member Brian Willis said. "In two years Iberville Parish could be a "B" system across the parish. We should all give the teachers and administrators a round of applause."

However, with the implementation of Common Core standards, it was noted scores may fall.

"That is to be expected," board member Nancy Broussard said.

Superintendent P. Edward Cancienne Jr. said assessments are better aligned and more attention is being paid to skills.

"I do support Common Core," Cancienne said.

The board also tabled the authorization of Cancienne to enter into an audit agreement of the system's telecommunications service accounts and dissolved the position of project manager before replacing it with the creation of a facility director in the salary range of $80,000 - $93,000.