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|Guice opposes legislation aimed at local school boards|
Keith Guice voiced his support Tuesday for local school boards throughout Louisiana, contradicting proposals the state superintendent of education will ask the Legislature to consider during the regular legislative session.
Guice, who is president of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, told the Ouachita Parish School Board that he objects to proposals endorsed by several state leaders, including Paul Pastorek, superintendent of all public schools in Louisiana. Guice delivered his remarks at the Ouachita Parish School Board's regular meeting.
He said members of BESE decided at their most recent meeting to ask the Legislature to look into school board reform to determine if some action was needed.
"It is my personal opinion that the ones (reform proposals) before the Legislature are not good laws," Guice said. "I am a former superintendent and I assure you if I thought this was good legislation that protects superintendents, I would be for it. I don't think it protects superintendents at all."
He said the proposed changes in law would make superintendents in charge of hiring and firing all personnel. Plus, termination of personnel would be strictly in the hands of the superintendents, Guice said. There would be no way for an employee to appeal their termination to anyone.
"The current superintendents do not think this is wise and they are against it," Guice told the school board.
Proposed legislation also states it would require a two-thirds vote by a school board to fire a superintendent, a proposal Guice opposes, too.
"I think you would find there are very few good superintendents who are fired in the middle of a contract," Guice explained. "Instead of protecting good superintendents, it's going to protect poor superintendents because it would take two-thirds vote to dismiss a poor superintendent. I think this proposed legislation will work opposite of what it's intended to do. It would give a minority on the board a chance to protect bad superintendents."
Regarding term limits for school board members, which the Legislature will consider, Guice said he doubts it is an issue of much concern for Ouachita Parish School Board members because even if it passed, they could still be elected for eight or 12 more years.
Guice also voiced his concern for a proposed change in state law that could reduce the amount of money local school board members are paid for serving.
"I can assure you that you earn your money," Guice said. "I also think it is a huge mistake when you make any kind of laws that makes it harder for good people to serve on boards. We do not need to take power away from people. We need people to keep that control as close to home as they can keep it. We don't need to give Baton Rouge any more power."
State Rep. Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge, will sponsoring the proposed changes in state law concerning local school boards, which the Legislature will consider when the regular session begins in late April.
Pastorek and Gov. Bobby Jindal have both said they support the legislation Carter is sponsoring.