Education board will have new local representative

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 23, 2011



LAPLACE – In addition to the assorted parish-level and statewide congressional seats on the ballot, Saturday’s runoff also included the race for the District 2 seat on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, which was won by Teach for America New Orleans executive Kira Orange Jones.

Jones beat out incumbent BESE member Louella Givens by a vote of 57 percent to 43 percent. Jones will now represent a BESE district that includes all of St. John the Baptist, St. James and St. Charles parishes in addition to parts of Orleans and Jefferson parishes.

Jones said she will support expansion of the charter school system in the state because existing charters in the New Orleans area are seeing some success. She also said she will consider working on a plan that would link teacher salaries and evaluation with performance by students in the classroom.

“Achievement in the classroom should be rewarded,” Jones said. “We need to come up with creative ways to retain quality teachers.”

Voters in the state also gave their approval to a State Constitutional amendment to ban new real estate transfer taxes or fees tacked onto the cost of an exchange of property.

The amendment prohibits state and local governments from adding a tax on the buying or selling of real estate. Outside of Orleans Parish, where a $325 “documentary transaction tax” is imposed, no other region in the state currently imposes the fees.

The amendment won by a vote of 81 percent to 19 percent, or 467,938 votes to 113,326 votes statewide.

Louisiana is now the fourth state in the nation to constitutionally ban the real estate tax, following Arizona, Montana and Missouri. The ban does not affect the ability of clerks of court to assess fees to record real estate transactions or realtors, agents and lawyers who charge fees at the closing of a sale but does prohibit state and local governments outside of New Orleans from imposing additional taxes.