University Elementary Sacrificed in CPSB Tax Plan

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Elliott_Stonecipher(This is one in a continuing series of articles concerning the Caddo Parish School Board property tax millage proposition set for a May 2, 2015 election.  If approved by voters, CPSB nets another $108,000,000 for new schools and other buildings.)

by Elliott Stonecipher

Readers may be aware that the Caddo Parish School Board and staff have decided they will not answer questions from the public when they – public employees – present their tax plan in public meetings held in public buildings.  If they were willing to answer questions, I would ask this one:

May 2 Bond Election_the-clock“The core of your tax plan is the building of a $24,500,000 school in Southeast Shreveport, regardless that no school there is needed, and that building it seriously damages University Elementary School.  How do you explain this to parents and staff who support University and any other damaged schools?”

Here We Go Again

In spite of its solid educational record over decades, this is the second time University Elementary has thus been set-up for a fall by the CPSB and staff.  Should voters pass this plan, the attendance zones of (more…)

Add comment March 29, 2015 11:31 am

It’s not the Apples. It’s the Barrel

Elton Richey

Elton Richey

by Elton Richey

Let me start by saying I am proud to have had the honor of knowing Marty Stroud as a friend and working with him as a colleague for many years. His recent letter to the Shreveport Times[linked] regarding his actions as one of the prosecutors who obtained the conviction and death sentence of an innocent Glen Ford brings great credit to Louisianas legal profession, precisely because it sheds light onto all of the things that are wrong with the American criminal justice system in general, and with the Louisiana justice system in particular.

First, and most importantly Martys letter shows that miscarriages of justice dont come about because theres one or two bad apples in the barrel. Its not the apples that are bad. Its the barrel that’s bad! Its the broken system! Let me make that clear. Wrongful convictions come about because the System is broken.Philip Zimbardo-Lucifer Effect Our broken criminal justice system not only creates the opportunity for good people to do bad things, it incentivizes bad behavior. It produces what Psychologist Philip Zimbardo termed in his book by the same name The Lucifer Effect.Good people do evil things not because they are predisposed toward unethical, illegal or immoral behavior, but because of the corrupting influence of situational and institutional forces acting upon them.

The bill of particulars against the Louisiana criminal justice system is far too long to summarize in these few paragraph, but we can list a few, starting with the way we fund criminal justice in this State. Louisiana has a profit-driven criminal justice system funded almost entirely off the backs of the people brought into the system (more…)

Add comment March 28, 2015 6:30 pm

Attorney Marty Stroud’s Apology Commendable

Opinion by John SettleLetter to Wrongfully Convicted Glenn Ford Unprecedented

In December 1984 Glenn Ford (a black man) was convicted by an all white Caddo jury of first-degree murder; he was then sentenced to death for the November 1983 murder of a Shreveport jeweler. Shreveport attorney Marty Stroud was the lead prosecutor. Ford was released from death row in March 2014 after the state admitted having new evidence proving Ford was not the killer.

Gavel_BarsFord is currently seeking compensation from the State of Louisiana for his wrongful conviction under a statute that allows recovery of $25,000 per year of incarceration with a cap of $250,000; Ford spent almost 30 years on death row. Ford has been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer and his life span may be less than a year; he will probably not be alive to see the resolution of his claim which can be pursued by his family after his death.

Stroud blames himself for no pursuing possible circumstantial evidence that may have cleared Ford of the murder charge. Stroud did not fail to disclose exculpatory evidence to Ford’s counsel; he says that he failed to follow up on rumors about the (more…)

Add comment March 27, 2015 9:00 am

Caddo Population Drops Again. Bossier, DeSoto Up.

Elliott_Stonecipherby Elliott Stonecipher

Today’s release of data from the U. S. Census Bureau’s official population Estimates program shows Caddo Parish’s population dropping again over the past data year.

Caddo population as of July 1, 2014, stood at 252,603, down from 255,164 one year earlier, a loss of -2,561 residents, or -1.0%.

Compared to the 2010 Census headcount, Caddo has lost -2,366 residents, from 254,969 on April 1, 2010 to the new total of 252,603 for July 1, 2014.Caddo DOWN

Caddo population had risen during the period mid-year 2010 to mid-year 2012, up to 257,328, but in the two years since, as Haynesville Shale activity dropped and the General Motors (more…)

Add comment March 26, 2015 12:57 pm

Demand Record Compliance for the Public’s Business

FloodgatesPandorasboxCanofworms-eMail Recordsby Marion Marks

I believe the “Can of Worms” the Hillary Clinton email server revelation exposed regarding use of non-official email accounts for State Department business emails must be addressed by the local media as it affects our local entities and business correspondence failures. Locally, in my opinion, we have done a very poor job of addressing what the law requires public officials to do.

We have a great starting point, and I believe we must have formal discussion of this topic. Here is a great article for awareness of issues, for those who may not understand the implications of public records.

emails going laptopMost government and board emails I receive from local public officials or entities regarding government business will have one or more parties who private email address is used. In recent public records requests [PRR], and over the last year on too many occasions, I was a party to PRR filings where the board members, government agency representatives (more…)

Add comment March 24, 2015 10:34 am

CPSB: Focus on Performance Indicators, Not Smoke

Independent!

Independence-Integrity-Results

by Marion Marks

We seem to sit around far too much complaining about the performance of public officials who fail to live up to our expectations. This is especially true when we often work hard to get them into office. So, when I came across new meaning for a metric that was important to me in social media for gauging the effectiveness, my mind raced to the linkage of performance measurement for those in public office. After all, it is so very similar.

Most public officials find the assessment of their effectiveness to be a factor of their public posturing or public relations. Inflatable ChickenIt’s generally the same with national officials who make the “baby-kissing circuit” or the rubber chicken lunch tour.

I would like to see far fewer public statements about successes and far more demonstrations of success. If the metric is managing a system, how smoothly do those who are regular users of the (more…)

Add comment March 23, 2015 9:32 am

The Times Opposes CPSB Tax Plan

Elliott_Stonecipherby Elliott Stonecipher

(This is one in a continuing series of articles concerning the Caddo Parish School Board property tax millage proposition set for a May 2, 2015 election.  If approved by voters, CPSB nets another $108,000,000 for new schools and other buildings.)

In its lead editorial today, The Times opposes the Caddo Parish School Board’s tax plan soon headed to Caddo voters.  The editorial well hits many of the plan’s weaknesses. Here is the editorial.

Make Trouble-It's Your JobFor those of us who have been working, some of us almost full-time, to defeat this proposal, the newspaper’s reasoning for its opposition is important.  Those details include this notably clear statement:

“For example … we don’t see the current student population in southeast Shreveport justifying building a completely new school there.”

Hand over the keyThe CPSB plan is perhaps most deficient, and most tied to, its failing record on school closures.  Not only does the present plan offer a mere promise for school (more…)

Add comment March 22, 2015 10:20 am

Caddo School Frustration That Must Be Fixed

Educational Requirementsby Marion Marks

The LA Department of Education requires student have 63,720 minutes of teacher class contact time to meet school credit requirements.* In the 2014-15 Caddo high school calendar, and the one approved for next year (2015-16) there were NO extra day(s) built in for potential weather related closing. Both school calendars start the first day of class short one(1) day even before the calculation of lost weather days, when schools are closed! Caddo already lost four(4) days this year due to weather.

HighSchool-required classesA typical calendar day is calculated based on 360 minutes of classroom contact per day for classes. This normally computes to 177 days for students. To be prudent, schools normally build an extra day into the schedule, making 178 calendar days to allow for one inclement day. Usually in Louisiana that is enough. The one thing schools never want to do is (more…)

Add comment March 20, 2015 5:34 pm

CPSB Superintendent Goree’s Dog and Pony Bond Package Show is a Slick Production

Opinion by John SettleCaddo Parish School Superintendent Dr. Lamar Goree and key staff members have scheduled 10 “Reinvest in Caddo” Community meetings—6 have been conducted as of today. The meetings are scattered throughout the parish; they have been held at Blanchard Elementary, Queensborough Elementary, Captain Shreve High, Southwood High, Walnut Hill Elementary/Middle, and Atkins Elementary. The remaining schedule includes Booker T. Washington, C.E. Byrd, Green Oaks, and Oak Park Elementary/ Middle School.

Gorree's-dogponyshowThe meetings have been a work in progress; initially live questions were invited from the audiences. For reasons that Dr. Goree and school board attorney Reg Abrams will NOT specify, the meetings now do NOT allow live questions. Attendees are invited to list questions on index cards and then check the CPSB website for (more…)

Add comment March 20, 2015 2:00 am

CPSB Tax a Risk to Teachers / Investigative Audit

Elliott_Stonecipherby Elliott Stonecipher
(This is one in a continuing series of articles concerning the Caddo Parish School Board property tax millage proposition set for a May 2, 2015 election.  If approved by voters, CPSB nets another $108,000,000 for new schools and other buildings.)

Our research into the Caddo Parish School Board’s tax plan continues.  What we are learning is, well, bewildering.

Newly confirmed is a piece of information the tax plan sponsors and sellers are withholding:  just how many CPSB property tax millages are lined up for us to fund, and how quickly.  That information, it turns out, tell us much about what the board and staff are doing with the tax plan now before us. 

Deaeingly Quiet-Airplane

deafeningly quiet…

We should note that the CPSB remains deafeningly quiet on important tax plan questions.  My most recent effort to get answers was a ten-days-ago letter to the superintendent, board president and board member for my district.  None has acknowledged receipt of the letter, much less responded.   

This striking and deliberate absence of transparency is the hallmark of this op … and is no accident.

What Taxes … and When?

dirtydataAvailable on the website of the Louisiana Legislative Auditor is the CPSB’s most recent, 2013-2014, Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.  Included in this wealth of public information is the list (more…)

Add comment March 19, 2015 4:34 pm

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