- Elliott Stonecipher
- Caddo Schools Superintendent Lamar Goree
March 16, 2016
[NOTE: This article includes a statement by Superintendent T. L. Goree confirming how the system deliberately preserves its massive over-capacity and resulting brick-and-mortar costs.]
Late yesterday, Caddo Parish Schools boss T. L. Goree announced that the system has leased Alexander School. He says the tenant will pay $72,000 a year for five years.
The event is well-timed by Goree, a month before the April 9th vote on the school system’s latest taxation attempt.
For the record, Alexander School is rated by the CPSB’s own Comprehensive Facilities Assessment as our best school in terms of condition. Built in 1912, but extensively renovated / rebuilt over the years, its study score was 15.32%. The lower that number, the better the condition of the school. (See study here, Browser Page 21.) My main subject is this self-congratulatory quote Superintendent Goree included in his manipulation of local media:
“We’re happy that we are able to continue to right-size our school district.” That statement is as distant from facts and truth as earth is from the sun, a whopper so big that the super must have been snickering when he had it written.
Once again, as with Goree’s cover-up gone bad of the Woodlawn High School employee theft, truth is definitely the system’s victim.
The “Right-Sizing” Lie
I am limited here to the facts I have been able to put together without the proceeds of my Public Records Request to Dr. Goree on February 24th. (His refusal to follow the law is detailed in my recent article on that subject, which may be read here.) What we can say, regardless, is that Team Goree is doing the exact opposite of right-sizing our bloated, failed / failing school system. Political patronage is Job One there, with the education of our children down the list. This system top-loads jobs and salaries, and preserves and defends every ounce of brick and mortar as if it is gold. The resulting building and maintenance contracts by the tens-of-millions of dollars are the currency of patronage – meaning political power – for CPSB top brass.
- 1. Central and West Shreveport Elementary schools are mere blocks apart in the area of Shreveport’s Murphy Street and Pierre Avenue intersection. The schools are very old – Central built in 1911 and West Shreveport in 1926, with very, very few school-aged children in the area. The schools were rated “Poor” in the facilities study, with scores of 29.34% and 31.93%, respectively.
- 2. These should-have-been-razed schools are in a very high crime area. The Shreveport Police Department reports that in a six-month period last year, May-October, there were 45 assaults reported. (Rapes and other sexual assaults are not included in public data in respect of victims, I am told.) We pay, therefore, for around-the-clock security, plus on-duty SPD officers during operational hours.
- 3. Proving that “you can’t make this stuff up,” Goree describes the West Shreveport boondoggle as a “… mov(ing) the Attendance Department in an effort to provide a customer-friendly accommodation.” Memo to Supt. Goree: it isn’t ‘customer-friendly’ if the “customer” gets shot or otherwise attacked being there.
- 4. Our school system has long owned an administrative building on Knight Street in Shreveport, referred to as “the former Special Education Center” and/or “Building 6.”
- 5. Here, specifically, is evidence that this school system has morphed into a political patronage mega-engine:
- a. Empty West Shreveport was put out for bid to become new administrative space in 2014, with a “estimated cost” of $2,475,000. Four bids were submitted: $4,142,000 … $4,681,500 … $4,293,000 … and $4,180,500. A re-bid was ordered. (The rebuilt school reportedly ended-up with such opulence as “coffee bar” and private restroom in the boss’s office.)
- b. West Shreveport “revised costs” according to Goree were $2,481,507 plus $261,241 taken out of Obama Stimulus money, a total of $2,742,748. However, actual verifying documentation is being withheld.
- c. Likewise, such documentation on the Central Elementary re-build continues to be withheld.
- d. The Knight Street office space was put on the market for sale to “cover” many millions for the two preserved schools, but there were no offers. It will supposedly next be “offered” at 80% of appraised value.
- e. A report from an employee asking to remain anonymous notes that some piece of all of this came in $700,000 over budget.
Proving what I have often reported, documented and explained, Goree gives himself away in a memo by noting that the renovation – rather than razing – of Central …
… “maintains the relationship with Centralites by preserving the historical value of the building.”
THIS stuff is the real focus of this school system. I do not know who “Centralites” are, but their empty and old school is being preserved, along with West Shreveport, regardless that we have 20,000 fewer students enrolled in the system than in 1970 … but as many or more schools and other buildings.
… more later …
(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.)