Lafayette School Board To Elect New Officers; Cobb Discusses His Term
After serving two years as Lafayette Parish School Board president, District 3 member Shelton Cobb will oversee a new round of officer elections tonight before stepping down from the position.
Cobb spoke with Nathan Pike on "Your Afternoon Drive Home" Jan. 14 and discussed his tenure, during which he oversaw major shifts in how the school system operates.
These rapidly implemented changes in K-12 education included rigorous school, teacher and student evaluation systems that were implemented with intent to heighten accountability. The new climate fostered a contentious relationship between the board and Lafayette Parish Schools Superintendent Pat Cooper, but Cobb said it's still been a productive time in the parish.
Even though there have been some difficulties — some trials and tribulations, folks might say — I think overall, the last two years have been quite progressive for Lafayette Parish schools.
The Lafayette Parish School System improved from a "C" to "B" rating during the 2012-2013 school year, according to the Louisiana Department of Education's new evaluation system. But the year also brought magnified political attention to the Board, which convened beyond 9 p.m. during most regular meetings to discuss issues ranging from contested personnel matters to charter schools.
Cobb said he hopes to see committees in the Board's future, although he said it's previously proven difficult to sell.
The board has refused in the past to do that. I'm gonna work in the future to try to subdivide ourselves into committees and let those committees make reports, and the reports would either be accepted or rejected.
Additional legislation — Act 1 — deals with performance incentives and relieves school boards from making hiring and firing decisions, including that of tenured teachers now at the superintendent's helm. The legislation has been declared unconstitutional twice in a year by 19th Judicial District Judge Michael Caldwell in Baton Rouge.
Cobb said the Board sides with the Louisiana School Boards Association on the matter — which cites the Constitution's "single object" clause as defense against the law — but hopes for a quick resolution about what he said is causing "great grief" for educators statewide.
(Act 1) will be going back, probably, to the Supreme Court — hopefully for a final ruling. Because I think the chaos is just a great unnecessary diversion.
As Lafayette Parish continues to grow, Cobb said, he ultimately wishes to see equal student achievement parish-wide.
We have to have an educated clientele to provide services, workforce. To live in the community in harmony, people have to understand what their responsibilities are, and I think the school system is a natural to deliver those services. I think we failed in the past, and I think we're approaching, now, a better solution to that problem.
To Shelton Cobb's complete interview on "Your Afternoon Drive Home," CLICK BELOW: