West Bank schools get $1 million from board

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 6, 2006


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE — The St. John the Baptist Parish School Board voted on Thursday night to allocate $1 million to the West Bank to cover costs of the proposed multimedia centers and other projects.

There was a debate over the wording of the motion to provide the funds to the West Bank.

The original motion put on the table by Board Member Russel Jack proposed that the board allocate $1 million for multimedia centers on the West Bank.

Board member Russ Wis proposed a substitute motion that added the words &#8220up to” proposing that the board grant up to $1 million for the multimedia production centers.

&#8220If the project doesn’t cost $1 million, then I can’t vote to give a blank check for the remaining money to the West Bank when people go to Wal-Mart and buy jeans and other products and pay 9.5 % in sales tax to support the schools,” he said.

Patrick Sanders, vice president of the school board said, &#8220We have made an informal promise that the West Bank would receive at least $1 million from the sales tax bonds and to back out of that now would not be right. We have to be accountable to the voters and do what we said we were going to do and let the West Bank have their $1 million.

Sanders accused Wise of objecting to anything that involved the West Bank.

Wise responded strongly saying he will refuse voting on anything that he sees as unwise spending.

&#8220I was the only red flag vote when the board approved the purchase of land where no one lives and I voted no to expand the East. St. John High School extension because I think that a better solution could have been found. I have done everything in my power to remove the stigma that I oppose West Bank projects. I just don’t want to see left over money being spent on unnecessary things,” Wise said

Board member Elexia Henderson was the first one to bring up the issue of accountability, stating that the West Bank needed to be given the full amount of money so that the board should practice accountability itself in keeping their promise to earmark $1 million to be given to the west bank.

&#8220Left over money can be used to upgrade or update the technology too,” she said.

&#8220If the multimedia project is less than a million, then by having that money already set aside it can be used for other needs and purposes to improve the schools on the West Bank.

Board members Dowie Gendron and Clarence Triche agreed with Wise.

Gendron said, &#8220I don’t understand why we always have to fight over East and West Bank. We shouldn’t be fighting among ourselves, but I am also concerned about approving such a large amount of money for the project because I don’t know where the rest will go if it isn’t used.

After a long exchange about the change in the wording the motion to include the words &#8220up to” failed.

The second vote to grant the full $1 million was then voted on and passed.

After the meeting, board member Mattew Ory who was a big supporter of helping the West Bank attain the multimedia production units said he was happy with the vote.

&#8220By keeping the words &#8220up to” out of the motion we can ensure that the West Bank get the full amount promised to them in past discussions and that it will not be spent on the East Bank.

Jack said he was satisfied with the vote.

&#8220This opens the door for the West Bank to get what’s needed on the West Bank and avoids the board from not just saying that money is set asided for us and that we will get the money and then coming along changing their minds and saying we won’t get money.

Board member Philip Johnson said he didn’t think the people on the board would spend money unsuitably and that what the West Bank had asked for was not unreasonable.

The multimedia center equipment has a proposed cost of 810,000.

In other school board business, the board voted to close schools on Tuesday for election day.

Also, Board Member Matthew Ory proposed that the finance committee meet to consider raising substitute teacher and substitute bus driver pay at the next finance meeting.

New mentor teachers were recognized for their efforts to guide and advise new teachers and a LaPlace elementary teacher was commended for her implementation of Acclerated Math in her classrooms.

Lynn Garro of John L.Ory Magnet was the recipient of a $500 mini-grant for nutrition and exercise programs from BellSouth.