School Board gives sup't three more years

Deidre Cruse, Governmental Reporter

The Iberville Parish School Board voted 11-1 Monday night to extend Superintendent P. Edward Cancienne Jr. for three more years to continue implementing his master plan for the system.

Dr. Cancienne has said his goal is to raise the system to 15th in the state by 2015, the year his contract now ends, Board Vice President Glyna M. Kelley of Plaquemine noted after the meeting.

“I will hold him to that,” she said.

Though it has moved up, the school district ranks in the bottom quarter the state's school districts.

The contract makes no change in Cancienne's pay from his original contract. With small raises in the consumer price index, he earns around $160,000 a year, plus a $12,000-a-year travel allowance, for which expenditures must be documented, and up to $100 a month for cell phone service.

Cancienne could shop around and fine a higher salary, Board President Melvin Lodge of St. Gabriel said.

“I think it's a bargain price right now,” he said.

“It's a great honor that Dr. Cancienne has asked for an extension,” said Board Member Brian S. Willis of Plaquemine, who made the motion to contract with the superintendent till 2015.

He praised Cancienne for his efforts to keep students in Iberville Parish, both in the public school system while they were in school and training them for local jobs afterwards.

Board Member Darlene M. Ourso of White Castle, the only member to vote against extending the contract, wanted to delay the action until August, after the board gets the results from the this year's standardized test scores. She said the school district's scores have gone up only because of the magnet school, the Math, Science and Arts Academy (MSA), which have drawn students back into the public school system.

“I'm very happy with the MSA, except that's only one school in the parish,” Ourso said.

Ourso was the only board member to vote for her motion for the delay.

The two new board members, Pam George of Grosse Tete and Donald Ray Patterson of Maringouin, said they would like more time to consider the extension. At Cancienne's recommendation, the School Board closed North Iberville High School, the only high school serving their area.

“All I have is the contract,” George said. “I need more information...”

Patterson said he had heard good things about Cancienne's accomplishments, but “there are still a few stumbling blocks.”

In the final vote, Patterson voted to add the three years; George abstained. Board members Dorothy R. Sansoni of Plaquemine and Albertha Hasten of White Castle were absent.

The room was packed with Cancienne supporters from the MSA-West, who broke into applause after the vote.

“Ninety-five percent of our members give Dr. Ed a glowing report,” said Thomas McCormick of MSA-West's Parent-Teacher Association.