Pointe Coupee school board mulls new tax amid financial woes
NEW ROADS - For the second time in less than two weeks, the Pointe Coupee Parish School Board met to discuss how it will bridge a $1.5 million deficit.
While no specific action was taken, members of the public tapped to serve on a committee to find solutions had the chance to speak.
"We can't sit by and twiddle our thumbs," one public speaker said. "It's not going to get done. We can't sit by and say 'we're gonna table this, we're going to table this.' Let's get a group together and sit down and share our ideas and come up with a solution.
Tuesday night's special meeting comes 12 days after the public overflowed into the hallways of the school board office when the board discussed cost-saving proposals. Those proposals introduced by Superintendent Kim Canezaro included, among others, moving to a four-day school week and closing two schools, Upper Pointe Coupee Elementary and Rougon Elementary.
Those ideas were met with strong opposition from parents, teachers, students, and other board members. The closures weren't the focus for those speaking Tuesday night, but rather how to use the community to solve the deficit.
"The good news is I'm getting a tremendous amount of suggestions and proposals," a committee member and Rougon Elementary teacher said. "There's not going to be a shortage of suggestions. There's got to be a combination that will work."
What seemed to be a common theme throughout the discussion, the need for a new millage for Pointe Coupee residents, in addition to the 16.5 mils they already pay that go to the school system.
"You need 12 mils," a Pointe Coupee teacher said. "Ask for it. It's time for the parish to stick up for this school system or it shall die."
"The fact that we have one of the lowest property tax millage rates in surrounding areas, which as not seen an increase in decades, I feel leaves us at a disadvantage," another speaker added. "Imagine if we could use increased millage to retain our talented teachers, instead of watching them leave for neighboring parishes, and provide upgrades that all campuses need."
Some in favor of a new tax urged the board to be transparent with how those dollars would be spent if a tax were to be approved.
"What y'all have to do is put it on a piece of paper and earmark it," one resident said. "Earmark this is for the teachers, this is for the schools, this is for whatever it may be. Prove to the people where that money's going."
The board is debating whether to call for a new tax this spring. For the proposition to appear on the May election ballot, a decision must be made by Wednesday, February 12.