Lafayette Parish School Board votes to hire Don Aguillard as its next superintendent


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LAFAYETTE, Louisiana — The Lafayette Parish School Board has voted unanimously to hire and begin contract negotiations with Don Aguillard as its next superintendent.

The Advocate reports ( the decision came Wednesday after interviews with Aguillard, who is superintendent of St. Mary Parish Schools, and candidate Francis Touchet Jr., a network leader for the Louisiana Department of Education.

During his interview, Aguillard told the board he could start mid-May, pending contract negotiations, and that he'd like to begin attending board meetings and be involved in budget discussions as soon as possible. The board has an estimated $16 million shortfall in its general fund for the 2015-16 school year and will begin general fund deliberations on May 12.

Aguillard suggested the board view the budget as an onion and consider peeling back the layers to review the personnel and programs that have been added in the past 10 years.

"Think about the extra positions you've funded and think about reducing that institution of the Lafayette Parish School System. . Keeping in mind, you're trying to protect classroom teachers because they deliver instruction," Aguillard said.

He said that in the past five to six years as many as 100 teaching positions have been cut to balance budget deficits in St. Mary Parish. While the decisions were difficult, he said, it was necessary. This upcoming school year, he said, St. Mary Parish faces a $4 million deficit.

In St. Mary Parish, Aguillard said, the board created a program to provide summer enrichment to struggling elementary students so they're prepared for the fourth grade.

"We send our second- and third-graders to summer school because it makes no sense to wait until they're fourth-graders to remediate for deficiencies," he said.

Aguillard was selected to replace interim Superintendent Burnell LeJeune, who was appointed to the post in November following the then-board's termination of Pat Cooper. LeJeune plans to retire this summer.

Information from: The Advocate,

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