Speakers support school board

Published 9:24 pm Friday, November 20, 2015

The Bogalusa City School Board office’s media center overflowed Thursday evening with parents voicing their support for the district.

Parent Amber Goss captured the attention of the board and the audience when she said her son expressed a desire to transfer to Bogalusa High School at the start of the current school year. Her son, Asten Williams, is a sophomore and had attended a different school up until this year. He plays bass drum in the BHS band.

“My son wanted to come to Bogalusa High School this year. He came because of academic and scholarship opportunities,” Williams said. “And my child has blossomed. My child is very intelligent. He cares about where he is going in life. I’m highly impressed with the Bogalusa School System, regardless of all the negative things we’ve heard.”

Bubba Bourne is a 1997 BHS graduate. He said parents of unruly students must straighten up.

“There is a lot of rhetoric in our town about the school system, but there has yet to be anybody to give us a solution,” Bourne said. “If we demand greatness, we get greatness. I wasn’t the best student when I went to school, and when I got out in the real world I realized what I had been taught.

“Don’t send your kids to school and expect teachers to discipline them. I hear about 14-to-15-year-old kids getting in peoples’ faces. If you demand greatness from parents, administration community and students, we’ll get greatness.”

Another parent, Sylvia Sheridan, sided with Bourne.

“I appreciate all the help I can get from the faculty at Central Elementary,” Sheridan said. “I agree with Mr. Bubba in that parents need to help the teachers out.”

Parent Linda Bullock agreed.

“The problem is not the teachers; it’s basically the parents,” Bullock said. “I’m the parent of nine kids — eight boys and one girl. Discipline starts at home. The school is fine. Parents, don’t take your child’s word about something, talk to teacher to see what’s going on.

“If parents will get off their behind and start teaching the kids, the school will be a much better place.”

Fate Ferrell suggested a town hall meeting to work out problems.

“Bogalusa is not going forward,” Ferrell said. “All the bickering is not doing any good. I’m asking someone on this school board to call for a town hall meeting. The truth hurts some people, but we’ve got to come up with solutions.”

Board President Curtis Creel liked Ferrell’s idea.

“Mr. Fate, you mentioned a town hall meeting. I’m going to take the imitative in that. I’m going to try to put together a meeting of stakeholders in this community,” Creel said. “We need to form a think tank and come up with a solution.”

Parent April Brister said community leaders need to step up.

“I don’t see any problems getting resolved. Everybody is pointing fingers,” Brister said. “The school board is not living up to expectations of the community. As leaders, we are not accountable enough.”

Creel said he had just returned from a conference in Baton Rouge concerning leadership and shared his thought.

“It is important to first understand that leadership is not always about power or control,” he said. “It is about responsibility that you inspire, encourage and empower others. You empower by steering your charges away from the status quo and show them the path to success. Leadership is something you have to sell each and every day to the very same people you sold it to yesterday.

“Leadership involves four things: the ability to realize when you are wrong, a willingness to learn from your mistakes and having the character to admit to being wrong, and have an eagerness to solicit change when needed.”

Superintendent Willie “Toni” Breaux said problems can be worked out through dialogue.

“My job is not easy. You have to have broad shoulders for this job, and I have them,” Breaux said. “I’m running a school system and parents get angry because they can’t see me. I do everything I possibly can. We just changed the discipline plan a couple of months ago and it’s working well.

“You always strive to do better. My whole heart is in it. I didn’t want to be superintendent anywhere else. We feel the whole child needs to be educated in the system. We take what God has given us to work with. As educators, we’re responsible for how we leave this world. I’m going to do my best until my contract ends. After that, I’ll still be a citizen of Bogalusa.”

In business matters, the board:

• Approved the October 2015 budget revisions, financial statements, General Fund, Food Services, Special Revenues and school activities.

• Heard from Beth Mizell, who is running for the State Senate District 12 seat.

• Heard a presentation from Louis Roquemore of Brightside Social Services, who touted the Independent Living Skills Program. It is a program to teach students real world experiences and teach them employment skills.