Bill limiting School Board size passes state Senate

Deidre Cruse

State Sen. Rob Marionneaux Jr.'s bill proposing to reduce the size of the Iberville Parish School Board from 15 to five passed the Senate Friday in a 36-0 vote.

School Board Member Brian S. Willis of Plaquemine said Marionneaux had said it would be several weeks before he advanced the bill.

“Rob said it would be several weeks before he would submit the legislation,” Willis told School Board members at a special meeting Monday afternoon. “All of a sudden Rob brought it up.”

School Superintendent P. Edward Cancienne Jr. had prepared a resolution for the board to go on record supporting its current structure, but there was no quorum for the special meeting called for bus tour of construction at five schools.

“This is a resolution to see how the board feels,” Cancienne said. He said the board might have to call another special meeting to consider the resolution.

“As a full board, we need to decide if we support it or if we don't,” Willis said, and get the Louisiana School Board Association to lobby for the local members' position.

In a constitutional amendment that would require a statewide vote, Marionneaux is proposing a five-member board, with four elected from single member districts and one elected at large parish wide, all subject to limits of three consecutive terms. Initially, he mandated the board draw the districts based on the 2010 Census and hold new elections in 2013.

His bill (SB420) was amended to make the plan effective with the term starting January 1, 2015, to allow the next board members elected this fall to serve a full term.

Board Vice President Glyna M. Kelley of Plaquemine noted that state law prohibits cutting an elected official's term short.

Willis and Kelley said there also is a statewide bill (HB410 by Rep. Steve Carter) for each parish to decide whether to limits school board members to three consecutive terms in office. It calls for the issue to be placed on the November 2 ballot.

The House passed the bill last Wednesday (April 19) in a 77-21 vote, with Iberville representatives Karen St. Germain and Elton Aubert vote for the measure, and has been assigned to a Senate committee.

The special board meeting Monday was scheduled for board members to tour construction sites at five schools – Plaquemine High, Iberville Elementary, Dorseyville Elementary, White Castle High and the Iberville Math, Science and Arts Academy-West.

Only six members were present when the meeting convened at Plaquemine High. In addition to Willis and Kelley, members Darlene Ourso of White Castle, Freddie “Sam” Molden of Bayou Goula, Yolanda Butler Laws of Plaquemine and Nancy T. Broussard of St. Gabriel attended. David Daigle of Grosse Tete joined the group later in the tour.

Board President Melvin Lodge of St. Gabriel was reported to be away on a trip with the Louisiana Technical College System. Other members were attending a fundraiser for Plaquemine High, Willis said.

The bus tour was to be followed by dinner at Nottoway Plantation, according to Willis, who heads the board's Building and Grounds Committee.

Based on the response to the tour, Willis said he would arrange another one so other board members could join in.