Reaction to school board action negative

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 6, 1999

By LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / Febuary 6, 1999

RESERVE – Reaction to the decision not to extend St. John Superintendentof School Cleveland Farlough’s contract Thursday was swift and negative.

The action came at the same meeting where the board voted to ask the public to support a 25-mill tax proposal to help fund the school system.

The millage proposal goes to the voters on the May 1 ballot.

“If Farlough is out, I think it’ll fail,” Rep. Bobby Faucheux commented.Faucheux is also a member of a blue-ribbon panel working to develop a long-range strategic plan for the school system.

“I’ve had an excellent working relationship with Mr. Farlough,” Faucheuxcontinued. “He delegates well, and he’s got good people surrounding him.The board ought to reconsider.”Co-chair for that blue-ribbon panel, Lilly Acosta-Galland of Shell/Motiva, responded, “I don’t know what to say! I’m kind of surprised.”She continued, “I’ve enjoyed working with Cleveland. They’ve been tryinghard to change the image of the system, and I’ve seen a lot of improvements.

“He really cares about the children,” she added. “He’s going to be missedby a lot of people.”Whitney Hickerson of DuPont, a fellow panel member, was likewise surprised and said, “He’s a fine fellow and a quality individual.”Hickerson added he hates to see Farlough’s departure and commented on Farlough’s support of the millage proposal, “He was really for it. Hewanted to see the thing through.”The Rev. Neal Bernard, pastor of New Wine Christian Fellowship andanother panel member, responded: “That’s big news!” Bernard applauded Farlough for “the job he endeavored to do.”He said Farlough’s impending depature should not have a major impact on the outcome of the millage election. “Industry doesn’t support it. Itdoesn’t stand a chance of passing. Why should we invest money in a brokensystem?” Bernard called for the school board to find in its new superintendent “someone very aggessive, yet very courageous, to turn the system around.”Former school board member Russ Wise expressed astonishment at the board’s action to drop Farlough. “It completely flabbergasted me!” he saidwhen told.

“Several school board members have been unhappy with him, but I don’t know what brought it on,” he added.

Wise expressed “the greatest respect” for Farlough, but noted: “People were concerned that recommendations they’d make sometimes were not followed through on. The system had no clear direction, and they felt itwas the superintendent’s responsibility to provide direction as a whole.

Some were also disappointed in his selection of appointments he made.”Wise concluded, “He’s served the system long and well. He’s a fine manwho has done his duty as he saw his duty.”Sen. Ron Landry, from his own perspective, commented, “I don’t think it’spersonal with him. I thought he did a pretty good job.”He felt the board’s action, rather, had more to do with infusing fresh ideas in the system. As to the effect on the May millage election, Landrycommented, “It shouldn’t have an effect on the millage. That should standor fall on its own merits.”Finally, St. James Parish Superintendent Walter Landry, who likewiseleaves his position at the same time, didn’t have a strong reaction to Farlough’s departure. He did say, though, “It’s going to have an effect onthe millage when you destabilize the system.”Farlough’s current contract expires June 30. The board will now beginadvertising for his successor.

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