Education Stakeholders Support Sales Tax Proposal

The Lafayette Parish Public Education Stakeholders Council announced Monday its full support of a half-cent, 10-year sales tax proposal.

The tax would generate about $194 million to replace 248 temporary classrooms at 12 schools in the parish.

LAPESC encompasses more than a dozen stakeholder groups from sectors including education, economic development, law enforcement and more.

Gerd Wuestemann, LAPESC’s public policy chair, said there have been conversations for decades about portable buildings at Lafayette Parish schools.

“I think it’s time for us to stop talking about this and take some action,” Wuestemann said. “This is a sunset tax … It will have measurable and tangible results that we can track quickly and easily.”

LAPESC’s policy statement applauded school officials for setting forth a clear plan for the tax usage. They also noted that money would be spread across the parish to multiple schools.

The funds would also go toward renovating and expanding cafeterias, administrative areas and restrooms, which Wuestemann said are “undersized and over-utilized.”

Jay Jackson of One Acadiana said schools make a critical first impression on people who might want to move their families to Lafayette.

“They want to know what kind of education their kids are going to be getting. They also want to know about the environment their children are spending the better part of their day in,” Jackson said. “What we have at the current time is really an embarrassment. While we’re not supportive of increasing taxes as a general rule, this is one time that an exception is critically important for our community and the future of our kids.”

Libraries to feature temporary classroom exhibits

Lafayette Parish Superintendent Donald Aguillard thanked LAPESC for its support.

“It’s a strong testament to building a team approach,” he said. “This is a very strongly worded position statement addressing the need for facility improvements.”

The election is April 29.

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