A package of bills to significantly change how local school boards operate was one of the more controversial issues debated during the 2009 regular session, and despite its heavyweight supporters — including the Council for A Better Louisiana, a good government group, and the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, the largest lobby in the state — the package failed to gain momentum. The plan did garner headlines, however, for its bold ideas about term limits, less pay and more protection for superintendents.
Rep. Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge, who sponsored the education package last year, returns this session with a similar set of bills, all of which are still in draft form. One would establish local-option term limits for school board members. That is, voters would decide if they want term limits in their districts. "When new people come in, they have fresh ideas," Carter says. "It also allows different types of folks to serve, and they bring with them different points of view."
Carter also will resubmit his so-called "micromanagement bill." One familiar provision would require school boards to have a two-thirds vote to remove a superintendent. Carter also is looking at a new provision that would shorten and streamline the process required to terminate a tenured teacher. "It's a very long process as it is now, and the process can really upset the morale of students and teachers and parents," he says. "We just want to make it more amiable." School boards across the state opposed Carter's package last year, but he says he has traveled the state this year to smooth out disagreements before debate begins. — Alford