School Board Member Pay Discussion Disallowed- Resolution Tabled

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By Dave Freneaux

School Board Member Russell Starns brought a resolution to the Central Community School Board Monday night to prohibit any payment of salaries to School Board Members until such time as Central's teachers are being paid as well as teachers in neighboring school systems.  School Board Vice President Dr. Jim Gardner spoke against the resolution, asserting that the timing of the resolution was politically motivated, coming just five days before this Saturday's School Board election.  Gardner then made a substitute motion which was seconded by member Will Easley to table the issue, which would delay any action until a future School Board meeting.
School Board President Sharon Browning, citing Robert's Rules of Order, stated that there would be no discussion of the issue and called for a vote.  Starns then objected to Gardner's accusations and maintained the resolution was not political and that this resolution had been on the agenda eleven months ago but was deferred due to time constraints. School Board Member Marty Guilbeau began to weigh in on the issue but discussion was halted by Board President Browning who stated "I think we're out of order" and then asked School Board Attorney Sheri Morris to give her opinion.  Ms. Morris explained. "The State Law requires public comment on any action taken by the Board."  School Board President Browning then stated, "I'm going to overrule you." and called for a vote.  Members Browning, Easley, Gardner and Walker voted to table the resolution, Guilbeau and Starns voted against, and Foil abstained.

While it is impossible, in a single newspaper article, to completely and accurately capture the exchange in this School Board discussion, three facts remain.  1) The entirety of the recorded discussion can be listened to at the Central School Board office at no charge.  2) Robert's Rules of Order do indeed allow the tabling of a resolution with no forther discussion, but Robert's Rules do not supercede Louisiana State Law.  3) Louisiana State Law, reffered to by the School Board Attorney in the meeting, in Revised Statute 42:15, reads that it is required that any School Board "shall allow public comment at any meeting of the school board prior to taking any vote."

Lastly, it is important to understand that The members of the Central Community School Board have always served without compensation.  The resolution at issue in this meeting was not to set compensation and there has been no motion before this board to pay Central School Board members.