Posts filed under ‘Caddo Parish School Board’
by John Settle
I am voting “no” on Saturday May 4th on the 3 tax renewals for the Caddo Parish School Board (CPSB), – - – and I am urging other Caddo voters to do the same. My reasons are simple, – - – to send a message to the highly dysfunctional Caddo Parish School Board. Here are my reasons for a “NO” vote:
1. None of the three renewals will have any affect on the next year’s school budget; two mileages expire at the end of this year and the third at the end of 2014. If all three fail and are not renewed at a later date, the tax deficit would have no impact until the 2014-2015 school year.
2. One third (1/3) of Caddo schools are rated “F” under the state accountability system and could be taken over or closed by 2014. A state school take over means local tax dollars go to the state for that school’s student population.
3. Caddo parish taxes are the second (2nd) highest in Louisiana – 20 mils higher than Baton Rouge.
4. The Caddo school system is in a leadership void – Dr. Dawkin’s contract was not renewed and thus he is a lame duck until the end of his contract in August of this year.
5. The Caddo Parish School Board has failed to manage its finances prudentially; what was once a budget surplus of $40 million when Dawkins became superintendent will mostly likely be exhausted at the end of the upcoming (2013-2014) school year.
6. The School Board has failed to acknowledge the impact of Magnolia Charter School opening this Fall; its 500 students will bring with them state funding for each child.
7. The Caddo Parish School Board ignored the reality that at least three high schools should be closed due to student populations less than 500 and continuing academic under performance – - Booker T. Washington, Fair Park and Green Oaks School. Minority schools in minority neighborhoods can no longer be justified on the basis of history, neighborhood unity or racial rhetoric.
8. The tax renewal campaign is false and misleading – -due to increased values in real estate, new assessments will result in the payment of more taxes over the life of the ten year rental term.
In summary, the Caddo School system is a slowly sinking boat – and has been for the last five more years. Presently the system has no real direction, severely declining income, and no plan in place for the future. A ten year tax renewal is being requested when the school system lacks a twelve month vision – much less a ten year plan of action.
The current School Board is in office for three more years; and the only way to send a message to this dysfunctional group is to vote “NO” on May 4th. A defeat of the tax renewals would be a loud and clear message by taxpayers. The tax renewals are, in effect, a referendum on Caddo public education. Need I say more?
Add comment April 26, 2013 6:00 am
If ever tax renewals should be defeated, these are the ones: 3 Caddo Parish School Board tax millages generating $55 million a year. The election is May 4th; the renewals are the only items on the ballot.
The School Board has been urged by the Shreveport Chamber of Commerce and the Alliance of Election to delay these tax renewals until the November ballot. The sound reasoning for this request can not be refuted by even a village idiot. There are a number substantial of uncertainties facing the school system, – - – financial issues, unknowns from the state ( as to school takeovers) and a future without a known superintendent.
At a recent special board meeting, School Board President Larry Ramsey along with (more…)
Add comment April 12, 2013 6:00 am
CADDO PARISH CONCERNS
by Elliott Stonecipher
To many of us, it was the real proof that all elections are not created equal; that what is at stake on some election days is far, far more important than most. That voting day in 1991 is now known as “the election from hell,” and notwithstanding the fact that no one of us has yet reported back from there, what was happening certainly felt sickening and other-worldly. Edwin Edwards and David Duke were in a run-off for governor, and we trudged to the polls as if to a wake for a dear and special friend, but with a quickened step. Two of the best bumper stickers in American political history told the story: “Vote for the Crook … It’s Important!,” and “Vote for the Lizard, Not the Wizard.” It was important that Louisiana not be known to the world as the deep southern congregation of people who elected the KKK’s top guy to forever curse it. All bets in the games and times of political normalcy and entertainment were off: this was a moral imperative, and we knew it.
In our own way, that brings Caddo Parish residents to May 4th. No, the godawful idea of somehow permitting the election of David Duke as governor is not before us, but protecting the education of our kids from (more…)
Add comment April 3, 2013 12:09 pm
Caddo voters will have an opportunity to express their approval or disapproval of Caddo public education on May 4th. No, its not (unfortunately) a re-call election for all twelve (12) school board members, but for all practical purposes this election could be just that.
Voters will be asked to renewal three (3) expiring Caddo Parish School Board (CPSB) ad valorem taxes. Proposition No. 1 is a 17.11 mills tax to provided funds for operation, maintenance, and “additional support” for schools. Proposition No. 2, a levy of 6.86 mills, is to acquires sites for and the construction and improvements of school buildings. Proposition No. 3 is a 11.26 levy for the acquisition, replacement and maintenance of microcomputers, buses, air conditioners and “other equipment”.
As expected, these propositions are the only items on the ballot, – - – and voter turnout would probably be very low, as in abysmal. That is the usual strategy for tax renewal elections, and often the only real advertisement is pitched to voters who are not real estate owners, or to those under the tax threshold, – - – for this election a assessed property value of $75,000.
The school board’s “No New Taxes for Caddo Public School,” webpage has a rosy sales pitch touting that the (more…)
Add comment March 21, 2013 6:00 am
CADDO PARISH TAXPAYERS NEED AND DESERVE BETTERby Elliott Stonecipher
The Caddo Parish School Board is using costly professional headhunters to find our next superintendent, the same method used to find outgoing Superintendent Gerald Dawkins.
A better idea is for the Board to recruit a half-dozen or so Caddo residents who pay both sales and property taxes to support our Caddo schools, and have those taxpayers find and recommend to our Board the new gal or guy … who lives here … that’s the key.
The Caddo Parish School Board needs a leader with skin in the game.
National searches have certainly not found superintendents with unique ability to turn the tide and provide quality educations for our children. In 2001-02, during Superintendent Robert Schiller’s reign, the Caddo schools’ academic ranking was 34th among then-66 districts. In latest 2010-11 scores, under a different grading system, Caddo is graded “D,” with 56% of Louisiana’s 1,334 schools graded higher. Worse yet – and Lord forbid – the trend-line of such measurements for Caddo is down. Multiple sources privately tell me our system’s academic measures are set to decline further, and soon.
The national search method hides important facts about superintendents thus found and hired, with related damage to public confidence. A good example is the hiring of our soon-to-be-ex-superintendent, Dr. Gerald Dawkins, recently released by an 8-4 vote of (more…)
Add comment March 20, 2013 12:19 pm
If casual observers were surprised by the Caddo School Board’s recent vote to not extend the contract of Superintendent Gerald Dawkins, then they had better sit down – the real shock waves will soon be rolling in like a tsunami. And, the forecast is that the after effects will not be pretty.
For starters, Dawkins is under contract through early August, if that is any solace. Many have questioned Dawkins job performance since he was first hired; how effective Dawkins will be as a lame duck is not subject to much debate. For all practical purposes Dawkins is expected to be a highly paid caretaker, at a time when real leadership is needed.
Before Dawkins cleans out his desk, the School Board must unravel (more…)
Add comment February 1, 2013 6:00 am
The recent vote by the Caddo School Board 8-4 to not offer a new contract to Superintendent Gerald Dawkins has caught the attention of the community. While it surprised those who casually follow the board, it was no surprise to those who watch the board closely. Dawkins’ hiring in 2008 was done at a meeting where no public comment was allowed. The vote that night was 8-4 to hire Dawkins from Michigan over the other finalist from Texas. His first contract was for three years and those years were largely spent dealing with the immediate crisis that was state takeover of up to eight chronically failing schools.
The “Caddo Plan” resulted in the state taking two schools and letting Caddo continue to operate the others under a Memo of Understanding. Five years later the schools in the Caddo Plan except Oak Park remain in accountability problems. In fact, most were recently merged into urban 7-12 schools under the Vision 20/20 Plan. And it was the Vision 20/20 process that saw the Caddo community join together to oppose a plan that seemed to keep morphing every meeting until it finally no longer resembled the initial vision.
Following the passage of the Vision 20/20 plan the next major agenda item for the board was the renewal option for Dr. Dawkin’s contract. What choice did the board really have? He was given a two-year renewal in 2011 with a six-month notice clause. That brings us to today and (more…)
Add comment January 28, 2013 12:38 pm
It’s time, actually past time, for Dr. Gerald Dawkins to leave his post as Superintendent of the Caddo Parish Schools.
Dawkins has never established a permanent residence with his spouse in Caddo Parish and his constant travels to his native South Carolina are reflective of his transient attitude toward this community. Dawkins has never really made an effort to integrate his persona into the community, and his aloofness to community leaders and taxpayers has hindered his leadership.
Dawkins has also failed to close several high schools with less that 500 students (yes, high schools) and he has not recognized the impact of the Magnolia Charter school that is opening this fall on Caddo public education. Furthermore, during his watch the school board has continued to outspend it’s annual revenues regularly, severely diminishing its operating reserve fund.
It’s time for a change, – long past (more…)
Add comment January 17, 2013 3:09 pm
It’s enough that taxpayer monies must be safeguarded at every turn, even though the taxpayers have not been very successful, but to disallow elected board members attending meetings where policy is implemented is a dictatorial edict that cannot be supported.
In a recent memorandum from Caddo Parish School Board Superintendent Dawkins, elected board members were notified that they would be turned away from staff meetings at the direction of the Superintendent.
The goal of the new “Policies of Exclusion” seem to be designed to disallow communication of Central Office policy interpretations at building level with the board members and (more…)
Add comment August 6, 2012 3:44 pm
Caddo citizens and particularly the “SKool” Board need to listen! Months of behind-the-scenes negotiations and Jefferson Parish school officials and the Jefferson Community School may have finally agreed on a contract amendment that would expand the mission of the charter school for at-risk students. The problem may be the group running the program!!
The School Board will vote on the amendment when it meets today at Bonnabel Magnet Academy High School in Kenner.
Jefferson Community now serves middle school students with severe behavior problems. Under the new agreement, Jefferson Community also would serve other types of at-risk students, including those who are “overaged or who speak English as second language.”
The school, which relies on referrals from principals, has been embroiled (more…)
Add comment May 16, 2012 9:28 am