- Elliott Stonecipher
- Elliott Stonecipher
March 29, 2016
It is all too easy these days to survey the wasteland of our local government and conclude its spiral-down is somehow inevitable. This calamity is written-off as a sign of the times, or the insanity of today’s politics, or the ascendancy of some racial group or another, etc., etc. We do a lot of that scapegoating here in Caddo Parish. Our “leaders” – who have failed to lead – sell it.
When we add to those failed “leaders” the too many who “support” them – which is to say, get public money of one kind or another from them – our local army of “In On The Deal” soldiers is not small.
Now, many of our public school “leaders” – who do much, but never lead – have taken our community’s center stage in a shameful display of corrupt self-interest. Their myriad hauls of public money are bubbling-up into public view. Title I fraud. Nepotism. Contracting fraud. Dead-head employees. Theft of public property. And worse.
As if to more specifically demonstrate and prove who they really are, these school “leaders” spew threats of lost jobs and income to frontline employees. “Scare hell out of ’em!” … puppet union bosses believe and practice as if it is still 1930.
In truth, of course, the only threat to the livelihood of our system employees are these “leaders” themselves. Caddo Parish taxpayers have long and provably sacrificed for these employees and children … and always will.
No, what is happening to Caddo Parish and Shreveport is not generic. It is not “everywhere.” It is not inescapable. It is the product of having handed far too much money for far too long to far too many dishonorable people in charge.
In our daily newspaper today was the proof positive that what ails us is a local disease. Out there in the real rest of the world, public officials still understand basic laws of economics and morality. Notice this piece in today’s local newspaper:
Headline: St. Mary Parish Closes 2 Schools
CENTERVILLE – The St. Mary Parish School Board has voted close two schools, a cost-cutting measure to address a funding gap from falling tax revenues and an exodus of students. The Advocate reported the board decided to close J.A. Hernandez Elementary in Franklin and M.D. Shannon Elementary in Morgan City, decisions projected to save the school district about $3.6 million annually.
Pupils from J.A. Hernandez will attend nearby Foster Elementary or LaGrange Elementary in Franklin; in Morgan City, pupils from M.D. Shannon will attend either Wyandotte Elementary or M.E. Norman Elementary.
Officials said no layoffs of teachers or other staff are anticipated.
Superintendent Leonard Armato said last week they are bracing for a $4 million to $8 million shortfall in the 2016-17 school year budget. Armato said since October 2014, school enrollment has fallen by 263 students.
The St. Mary Parish public school system has 23 schools, with 2 now set to close … 9% of its total. In latest, 2013-2014 data, base pay for its teachers, stripping away extra compensation, ROTC instructors, etc., was $47,516.
The CPSB has more than 70 schools, including the several which have been “saved” as stinking currency for rotten political patronage. We had that many in 1970, too, but with 20,000 more students then. One – 1 – of ours is now leased for five years, and 0 – zip, nada – are set for closure. Comparable pay for our teachers was $51,303 in 2013-2014.
The St. Mary Parish School Board acted honorably … to all. Noting its challenge from oil price drops, it “found” $4,000,000 a year by closing unneeded schools. It honored its children and parents, taxpayers, employees and parish … not to mention core Christian and American values.
The CPSB, quite to the opposite, is now working feverishly to keep its political patronage machine humming along. Children and their parents, school-based employees and taxpayers are kicked to the side on their godawful road to self-service. Mere dishonoring of its opposition is not enough, we must be labeled “evil,” to use one of their employees’ social media slurs.
To our honest CPSB board members and staff who decry what has become of our school system, your silence has become loud agreement, and your attempts to hide only spotlight you.
To our “leaders” who are not, and who fan these flames for the worst of reasons, know that good, decent and caring people see, or can find out, more or less everything you are doing to us. Only you are responsible for this collapse. No one else.
(Elliott Stonecipher is in no way affiliated with any political party, and has long been a registered “Other,” or Independent. He has no client or other relationships which in any way influence his selections of subjects or the content of any article. His work is strictly in the public interest, with no compensation of any kind solicited or accepted. Appropriate credit to Mr. Stonecipher in the sharing – unedited only, please – of his work is appreciated.)