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Lafayette Wrap-Up: School Calendar Considered, Council Reorganizes MPO

ALL THIS GOVERNMENT HAPPENING AT ONCE

Mardi Gras came and went and pushed back the Lafayette City-Parish Council meeting to run at the same time as last night’s regular meeting of the Lafayette Parish School Board. Here’s a rundown on both.

School board. Go.

Aside from the whole calling-the-cops-on-Cooper thing a few meetings back, newly elected Board President Hunter Beasley has been running a tight ship so far this year over

meetings that historically run late into the evening and often involve high emotion. Board members were vocally appreciative.

But they also voted unanimously to allow the president to request security for future meetings. Because you never know.

KPEL

Well, good for them. Now what about the students? They may have fewer days in the classroom next year. Three of last year’s 174 classroom days look to be repurposed for teacher training as students prepare for new evaluation systems that roll out in 2015. Director of Academics Karen Williams said that 63 percent of teachers surveyed requested more professional development days to get familiarized with the new standards. Students are required to attend 167 days of school to be promoted.

But how much cash is required to keep those students learning? The Lafayette school system won’t yet be rebudgeting to cover its expected fiscal shortfall this year. The board voted down a proposal to reduce its reserve fund requirements to cover a $10.4 million budget shortfall. The board’s current policy requires three months in operating expenses remain in its reserve budget. A vote in favor of reducing that requirement to two months would have freed $24 million dollars in the budget. The board decided to wait before taking immediate action. Still no word on potential state dollars, however, after the board voted last month to join a suit against Louisiana.

Its next meeting is March 19.

Aren’t you glad there wasn’t much drama? Us too. Now on to the LCPC.

It did some neat things, like declare March both American Red Cross and Women’s History Month. It also voted to hand off a retired police dog, “Duke,” to in-laws of a Lafayette police officer who would see the canine through its winter years.

It’s also getting some money for public transit. The $522,566.60 from the Federal Transit Administration will be used to fund enhancements to public buses, paratransit service and whatever other “enhancements” Lafayette Transit deems fit. The city has to match the grant with $131,641.63 of its own money.

The big story about transit, however, involved the council’s decision to reorganize its Metropolitan Planning Organization so council members can serve in the group. Lafayette’s Home Rule Charter says no council member can serve on a board or commission unless

the law or ordinance creating that commission says so. It didn’t. The council’s vote changed that, and now six council members will serve on the MPO, which plans transit in urbanized Lafayette. The Daily Advertiser reported members Don Bertrand, Kenneth Boudreaux, Andy Naquin and Brandon Shelvin will join the MPO, and council member Keith Patin will join once his neighborhood is annexed in July.

Lastly, the LCPC gave some money to the Juvenile Detention Division to replace its dated, black-and-white surveillance cameras with new equipment.

Its next meeting is March 19.

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