The Lafayette Parish School Board voted unanimously to hire Donald Aguillard, Ph.D to be the next superintendent of the Lafayette Parish School System.

The Board made its decision Wednesday night after interviewing Aguillard and fellow finalist Francis Touchet Jr., a network team leader for the Louisiana Department of Education. A third finalist for the position, Carlos Sam, associate superintendent of schools in East Baton Rouge Parish, was also scheduled to interview but withdrew Wednesday because he was chosen to serve as superintendent in East Feliciana Parish a day earlier. The three finalists were chosen from a pool of 12 applicants vying for the position.

After interviewing both finalists for nearly an hour each, the board met in executive session for little more than 10 minutes before reaching the unanimous decision to offer Aguillard the top position at the Lafayette Parish School System.

"I'm appreciative of the unanimous vote from the nine-member Lafayette Parish School Board," Aguillard told KPEL following the Board's decision. "That sends a clear message to me that they want my leadership style to lead this district."

Aguillard has served all but the last 11 years of his 40-year education career in Lafayette Parish. He began his career as a biology teacher at Acadiana High School, where he also served as assisstant principal, while earning his master's degree in secondary education and a education specialist certificate from the University of Southwestern Louisiana. He earned his doctorate in education curriculum and instruction from LSU in 1998. He is currently serving as the St. Mary Parish Schools Superintendent, a position he has held since 2004.

Aguillard said he believes the main challenges that he sees Lafayette Parish School System lie within improving academic performance, addressing an aging infrastructure and balancing the LPSS budget.

“I'm committed to working with the board, with the professional organizations, with the students, with the parents and the community to see if we can get the Lafayette Parish to become an A-rated school district within a short number of years,” he said.

A main priority he mentioned that should soon be addressed are issues with the district's aging infrastructure. Aguillard cited a rising population within Lafayette Parish as a main reason to make a plan to provide adequate and safe facilities for students now and in teh future.

Regarding the budget, Aguillard said protecting teachers and classroom instruction should be at the highest priority when considering how to balance the school system's budget woes.

Aguillard availed himself to begin working with the board and interim Superintendent Burnell Lejeune by mid-May.

"The first thing I want to do is have conversations with all stakeholders," he said. "I want to listen to what's happened in the past. I want to know people's vision of where they think the school system should be. I want input so that we can make good solid decisions."