Posted: Jul 9, 2013 6:24 PM by Chris Welty
Updated: Jul 9, 2013 6:47 PM
More than one million dollars in improvements are underway in Lafayette Parish schools this summer.
Leading the charge to fix the schools is a man backed by the superintendent with a reputation for getting things done.
Thad Welch was named Special Assistant to Doctor Pat Cooper and his employment has come under fire. He didn't meet the requirement of having a high school diploma, but Cooper says he has a wealth of experience and is now working on his GED.
For the first time, we hear from Thad Welch about the improvements he's made so far and his hopes for the future.
On Tuesday when we met at Prairie Elementary School, Thad Welch made it clear he wasn't going to talk about the on-going issue with his employment. He says his focus is on the work he and his staff are doing to make improvements in Lafayette Parish schools.
"We're not 100%, but within the next year or so, we should get to 100%," said Thad Welch.
This summer, every tile floor in the district is being stripped. Layers of dirt and old wax are peeled off to make the floors look brand new. Walls are also being re-painted. Several areas with asbestos and mold are being torn out ahead of the new school year on August 14th.
"We need to make people feel important and you feel much more important if you know folks care enough to clean your buildings and make thinks look better," said Superintendent Doctor Pat Cooper.
Welch says he's most proud of the amount of work being done, how quickly it's being done and how cost-effective it's all been. He tells us before they would contract out for things they could have handled internally.
"We're making sure everyone of these jobs is first class and we're doing it efficiently," said Welch.
Right now it's a lot of renovating and fixing. Cooper's ultimate goal is to ask the public for more money to make "major" renovations or build brand new schools. In the meantime, Thad Welch is overseeing the task at hand. It's a job he says he takes very seriously.
"We want to give our kids a good, clean, safe place to come to everyday."
We also spoke with newly named principal at Prairie, Cayce Booher. She's only been on the job one week, but has been impressed with the progress made since she first toured the campus.
"It's a big job. I was really concerned when I first walked in of how few classrooms were done, but when they started walking me around, they're showing me what they're doing. The teachers will be excited when they come back," said Booher.