Jul 6, 2010 5:50 PM by Melissa Canone
LAFAYETTE _ Carl LaCombe, president of the Lafayette Parish School Board and a member for the past 16 years, has
decided he will not run for the District 2 seat again.
"My job duties have changed significantly this year," LaCombe said. "I don't want my job to suffer, and I don't want my district
to suffer, either. I don't think I will be able to devote the energy to representing my district, not in the way it deserves."
In looking back over his time on the board, LaCombe said he's most proud of getting the district's newest high school, the
Thibodaux Career and Technical School, off the ground. The school will open this fall with its first class of students.
"That's been on my list of things for 16 years, and it looks like it's going to attract a lot of support from the community,"
LaCombe said. "I'm especially pleased about that."
As of today, more than 180 students have applied to attend Thibodaux Tech this fall.
"That tells you the demand has always been there. I've always felt that folks in the community are looking for an alternative to the
traditional college-prep type offerings; they are wanting something different," LaCombe said. "It's not that these kids are not going
to college, but it's a more focused curriculum. These students are going to have an opportunity, just like at the academies, to come
out of high school ready for college or ready to be gainfully employed."
Among his other accomplishments, LaCombe said he is proud to have been part of the creation of Louisiana's first Early College
"That's something we have that no other district has," LaCombe said.
During his time on the board, the school system also achieved unitary status in its desegregation case. That was accomplished
through the creation of the district's Schools of Choice program. Today, more than 20 Schools of Choice exist, with almost a third
of the district's students attending SOC programs.
"These are all top-notch, state-of-the-art schools," LaCombe said. "The board worked hard to get unitary status. Those were some
tough times. But we were able to turn it into a chance to create opportunities for all children. It wasn't about numbers or race, it
was about creating opportunities for kids."
LaCombe said he feels confident that the master facilities plan, which was approved in May following more than a year of
professional assessment and community input, will be able to move forward without him or any other individual board member.
"The facilities plan was a long time in the making, and I think that can move forward with the committee that's going to be
formed," LaCombe said. "It's at a stage where it's going to move forward because the whole thing was set up for the community
to oversee. It's there for everyone to see. All schools and all districts are going to be addressed. The plan is going to move forward
on its own."
LaCombe also mentioned efforts by the board to improve long-range planning, including implementation of the Balanced
Scorecard and joint meetings with the Lafayette Consolidated Council. The annual goal-setting process set up by this board will
continue to build up the system's fund balance and maintenance funds, by focusing the budget, he predicts.
"Three years ago, our fund balance was $2.5 million. But we passed a policy to get our facilities funds and our reserves built back
up, and we've never deviated from that. All the work we've been doing, fire alarms, all the roofs, the driveways, that's where all
that money went," LaCombe said. "The process we set up was to have a retreat, where we go over last year's goals and see what
we still need to do. We set goals for the coming year, and that establishes what you do in the budget."
LaCombe credited Superintendent Burnell Lemoine and the staff of the system with finding ways to tighten up spending, and with
finding innovative ways to address challenges. He said he believes that these efforts _ including EduSoft, the Balanced Scorecard,
the academic audits _ will have a positive impact on school system efficiency and most importantly student achievement.
LaCombe also said he will not become a stranger to the system.
"I would like to offer assistance to the system in the future in whatever manner requested," he said.