Has T’bonne school board gone too far?

Ask any professional job marketer the top 10 questions to ask a potential employer and they’ll all list, “Why is this job available?”

That’s going to be a tough one for the Terrebonne Parish School Board to answer when advertising for a new school superintendent.

After a contentious months-long battle with a split board, School Superintendent Ed Richard was given a two-year extension to his contract. Barely into the first year of that extended term, he has announced plans to retire effective Dec. 31 – two short months from now.

During his first contract term, he was able to accomplish goals many of his predecessors were not able to achieve. According to half the board, Richard had the backing of teachers, administrators and parents. Test scores were showing signs of improvement; renovations were on budget and, despite the recent spate of hurricanes in the area, one schedule; and Terrebonne Parish’s school district appeared to be headed in the right track.

But a closer look told a different story.

School board meetings had turned into micromanagement sessions. Board members – all with their own pet projects and, at times, individual agendas, kept Richard and his staff going in all directions.

With virtually every vote, the 5-4 split emerged. School board members Clark Bonvillain, Richard Pitre, Roosevelt Thomas, Greg Harding and Roger Dale DeHart were generally on one side of the panel. Members Don Duplantis, L.P. Bordelon, Richard Jackson and Hayes Badeaux Jr., on the other hand, were often in the superintendent’s corner … or at least generally more atune to the role of the school board.

The Terrebonne Parish School Board has sadly found itself in a difficult position. With testing season fast approaching – not to mention Richard’s exit date – it may be a good time for elected members to re-examine the board’s purpose and mission. The very question they’ll likely ask candidates – “What do you intend to do to improve this situation?” – could just as easily be put to each of them. The answer will dictate our kids’ future.