Triche: St. John Public Schools lack full parish support

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, April 24, 2019

In response to a recent article by “concerned” businesses of St. John Parish, we take this means to serve as a reminder that the issues presented therein did not occur overnight. The areas of concern started during the time of the “flight” of students from the public school system.

Parents opting to move their children from public schools to the private sector meant less funds, less guidance and less support from the parents and businesses of the Parish by way of informing the School Board as to what is needed and desired in order to meet the expectations of residents and businesses. A large percentage of people in St. John Parish abandoned the public school system unlike most citizens of St. Charles Parish who have been and remain dedicated and informative by enlightening the leaders of the public school system.

Residents and businesses should be reminded that on the East Bank of St. John Parish alone there are six public elementary schools, four private elementary schools, one public high school, and two private high schools. Does this not provide an adequate enough choice for residents?

The School Board would be in a better position to do “more” for the students of St. John Parish if certain businesses of the Parish and legislature would acknowledge and honor its financial obligations so the School Board could do “more.”

Even without the benefit of funds from some local businesses, the School Board has managed to maintain and safeguard education. As such, the School Board of St. John Parish has been forced into a position of having to be extremely creative with the resources available in order to do more with less.

In connection with the foregoing, it is important and only fair to consider the following:

• St. John Parish receives 30 percent less in minimum foundation funding and pays 27 percent more in retirement costs as the State reneged on putting up its share of funding. Legislators voted for a 2.7 percent increase each year to account for inflation. However, this increase was received only once in the last 10 years.

• Businesses in St. John Parish pay 40.31 mills in school tax while property taxes in St. Charles Parish total 55.76 mills, meaning that St. Charles Parish receives 15.45 percent more money from each business and residence than St. John Parish.

• In 2017-18 alone, $890,799 was not remitted by businesses to the School Board until audited. Since 2004, $14,900,000 was collected from audits. Some of the highest audits were $6 million; $2.3 million and $900,000 in sales tax able to be collected after audits were conducted.

• There is a 27 percent retirement charge because the State failed to pay their share.

• There was damage to multiple schools in the Parish including two that were flooded and unusable and one that was partially burned. Nevertheless, the School Board continually found creative ways to provide for the students of St. John Parish.

• Vouchers are available for public school students to attend private schools. All private schools accept financial help from the State in the form of vouchers, which takes funds away from the School Board.

While the School Board can appreciate the concerns residents and some businesses might have as it relates to the education of the children of St. John the Baptist Parish, it is noteworthy to mention that “concerned” businesses and parents of St. John Parish should consider the role they have played in stymieing progress that the School Board otherwise could have made if we had their help and guidance.

Clarence G. Triche is the District 11 St. John Parish School Board representative and finance committee chairman. He can be reached at