Montoucet address board ahead of sessions, Estherwood Elem. recognized
By: Jeannine LeJeune
CROWLEY – A 36 item agenda awaited the Acadia Parish School Board (APSB) for their February meeting that included comments from State District 42 Representative Jack Montoucet and recognizing a school for earning the parish’s first HPHP distinction.
Montoucet was given the floor first and he spent his time prepping the board and those in attendance for what will be a busy year for himself and his fellow elected officials as two legislative sessions have already been scheduled.
The first of the two will begin on March 25 and has been designated as the state’s reapportion session.
“I’ve been told it will last 15-20 days,” said Montoucet. “It has been scheduled for longer, but I’m told and am hoping it won’t last the full time.”
The census reported growth in Acadia Parish, but not nearly as much as Lafayette Parish saw and that could mean Montoucet’s district’s boundary will be redrawn out, something he is hoping to avoid.
Montoucet also cautioned that while the new boundaries must be decided by the fall elections by the legislature, if a suit, or multiple suits, are filed against the new boundaries, elections may have to be postponed while the courts and legislature work to solve the issue.
But, that is a worst case scenario that he hopes to avoid.
The next session will be one the school board and many other Louisianans will pay close attention to, the fiscal session. The legislature will open its regular session on April 25 and that will be the time to discuss taxes and cuts, according to Montoucet.
“We’re facing a huge deficit,” he said.
Huge may be an understatement as the deficit could be in the realm of $1.6 billion to $2 billion and the legislature only has $2.6 billion in discretionary funds to cut from, but as Montoucet said, there is little room for cuts after the last few years, especially in the education field.
“You can only cut so much,” he said. “The saying about cutting the fat has been used, but, to me, we’re down to the meat.”
Montoucet also stated he hopes to continue his communications with Bourque and the board during the session as he found it helpful for both himself and the district.
Montoucet closed by thanking the board for all their continued work.
The meeting then moved to the board’s recognition of Estherwood Elementary, which became the first school in the parish and one of only 56 schools in 30 school districts to earn the High-Performing, High-Poverty distinction. This is the fourth year the Louisiana Department of Education has identified and honored schools for overcoming the challenges associated with educating large populations of poor and minority children.
To earn the distinction, schools must have a baseline School Performance Score (SPS) of 100 or higher for two consecutive years and at least 65 percent of the school’s population must be enrolled in the federally funded free or reduced-price meal program.
Representing Estherwood Elementary for the evening was Principal Johnette LeLeux who referenced that it isn’t just the school’s doing, pointing to the board’s support and the community’s high expectations.
There will be more on the APSB’s February meeting tomorrow.