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The Daily Review/Bill Decker
Assistant District Attorney Anthony Saleme administers the oath of office Thursday to the St. Mary Parish School Board. The members are, from left: Dwight Barbier, Joseph Foulcard, Roland Verret, Ginger Griffin, Sylvia Lockett, Kenny Alfred, Pearl Rack, Michael Taylor, Marilyn LaSalle, Wayne Deslatte and Alaina Black. It was the first meeting for Barbier, Lockett and Black, who won their posts in the November primary.

St. Mary School Board begins superintendent search

CENTERVILLE — The newly sworn St. Mary Parish School Board, including three new members, got to work Thursday on their first big job of the term: finding a new superintendent.
There was even a little controversy when it came to setting up the search process.
Leonard Armato, superintendent since 2015, announced last month that he will retire June 30. On Thursday, the board voted to begin the search for superintendent candidates.
The position, which requires supervision of the district’s 21 schools serving 8,611 students, will be advertised as having a starting annual salary of $120,000-$140,000. Armato said Thursday that his starting pay was $130,000.
Advertisements will begin on a Wednesday later this month. On two consecutive Wednesdays, the ad will be placed in the two St. Mary daily newspapers plus papers in Lafayette and Baton Rouge. The notice will also be posted on the school board’s website and the websites of professional organizations.
The law requires the board to accept applications for at least 30 days after the second round of advertising.
The board appears likely to have a special Saturday meeting after the applications are in. The new superintendent could be in place by early April, allowing time to work with Armato before his departure.
The controversy was over a St. Mary Parish Principals Association letter asking for input in the selection process. President Mickey Fabre of Morgan City High and Vice President J Ina of Franklin Junior High presented the letter to the board Thursday.
The association asked:
—To be allowed to submit questions to be used by the board members during interviews.
—To have officers present to observe interviews, but without participating.
—To submit a formal recommendation after the interviews.
—To allow “any other assistance and/or support from principals that the board would request or solicit.”
“We feel that our knowledge and expertise of all facets of operations in the schools in St. Mary Parish can be extremely beneficial in assisting the board during the interview process,” said the letter, signed by Fabre and Ina.
But some of the board members raised objections. Kenny Alfred wondered about friction between principals and a new superintendent whom the association didn’t recommend. Marilyn LaSalle said hiring the new superintendent is a board responsibility. President Michael Taylor asked whether allowing the principals to take part would open the door for other organizations.
Pearl Rack, who had been elected vice president earlier in the meeting, moved to accept the association’s request. The motion failed 7-4. Roland Verrett, Ginger Griffin, Taylor, Wayne Deslatte, LaSalle, Alfred and newly elected Dwight Barbier voted no. Rack, Joseph Foulcard and new members Alaina Black and Sylvia Lockett voted yes.
Also Tuesday, the board took oaths of office administered by Assistant District Attorney Anthony Saleme. Taylor was re-elected president, joined by Rack as vice president.

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