The Lafourche Parish School Board has another chance to do the right thing.
Voters and taxpayers have to be hoping that this time, the board will finally seize the opportunity and do so.
The board will consider a measure that, if passed, would ask the local legislative delegation to present a bill in the state Legislature to reduce the number of board members from 15 to nine.
A majority of board members has refused time and again to reduce the size of the board. But making this common sense change would accomplish several important public priorities.
First, it would save money.
According to a request for the reduction from four board members, the system would save more than $100,000 a year. No, that isn’t money that will make or break a budget that counts into the tens of millions of dollars each year. But it is a step in the right direction.
Second, it would simplify the parish’s political structure.
The Lafourche Parish Council has nine members. Changing the School Board to the same alignment would mean that voters would know, for instance, that they live in District 1 for the council and the School Board. Maintaining the same alignment also would mean that the two public bodies could simply split the cost every 10 years of redistricting after each federal census. Under the current alignments, each body has to conduct its own redistricting.
Finally, a reduction in the board would be a powerful signal to the public that the board members are more interested in protecting the public’s interest than they are in protecting their own jobs.
The voters in the spring gave the board an unmistakable message. When the board asked for more tax money to hand out across-the-board raises to its employees, the public said no.
Making this move would show the voters that the board is doing all it can with the money it has rather than squandering precious public money on unneeded board positions.
Critics of efforts to reduce the board have argued that doing so would reduce the representation of certain parts of the parish. But that is not a compelling argument for inaction.
Each section of the parish would enjoy the same representation it has now, albeit with fewer members of a smaller board. One vote will be just one of nine, meaning that each district’s board member is actually more powerful than each one is under the current alignment.
The time has come to reduce the number of board members and increase the board’s resolve to serve as strong stewards of the public’s money.
When the members meet Wednesday night, they should think about the good they can do and the message they can send by voting to reduce the board’s size.
Editorials represent the opinion of the newspaper, not of any individual.