House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, said he requested the $1 million capital improvement appropriation from the state of Louisiana at the request of Barbe coaches. The money, which must be approved by the Louisiana Bond Commission, would be used to put artificial turf on the Bucs' football field. Kleckley said he supports the appropriation and that the new field would save money on upkeep. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Friday, July 06, 2012 4:34 PM
Some Calcasieu Parish School Board members are disappointed that an attempt to obtain $1 million in capital outlay funds to be used in District 6 has apparently been nixed by state House Speaker Chuck Kleckley.
On Thursday, Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, sent an email to American Press reporter Eric Cormier in response to initial reports that Kleckley made a request to the state for the money for improvements to Barbe High School’s athletic complex. It was learned that a large portion of the funds would have paid for the installation of synthetic turf at the school’s football stadium.
District 6 School Board representative Bill Jongbloed spoke to Kleckley about the appropriation and suggested the funds could be used on several projects. Jongbloed lobbied for the money to be used for extended driveways at Prien Lake Elementary and Nelson Elementary.
“That would allow us to try and get cars off the road at the schools. A driveway could be built to let cars go around the schools to help with the traffic,” Jongbloed said.
But Kleckley decided to pull the bill that would set in motion the process for the funds to be allocated, Jongbloed said.
“That kind of surprised me,” Jongbloed said. “I think he meant well, but all of this kind of blew up in his face.”
Kleckley explained his decision in the email.
“Each year legislators have an opportunity to include local projects for their district in the capital outlay bill. Those projects may be local in scope but have a positive benefit for the local community. For years I have heard people complain that we have not received our share of funding in SWLA for similar projects.
“When the Barbe coaching staff indicated they could use the money to improve the athletic facilities at Barbe, which includes a new turf field, I thought there were some worthwhile projects.”
Kleckley continued by stating, “However, given all of the adverse publicity that this project has received and the competition for other local and state projects, funding for this project will be difficult at best. Therefore, I have advised the School Board that we should drop the matter and move on to other issues.”
School Board President R.L. Webb does not agree with that decision, especially since the funds could have benefited projects that would help the district.
Webb placed an item on the School Board’s regular meeting agenda next Tuesday to allow the panel to make a decision on whether its members wanted to use the money for the Barbe project.
“I hate to see him do it this way, to just drop the issue and not listen to other alternatives,” Webb said. “We sure could have used that money. There are a lot of things we could have done with it.”
Webb said he was “jealous,” though, that only one school district was set aside for an appropriation.
Even though the appropriation request was made, there were more steps in the appropriation process to be taken before a final check was issued.
Kleckley explained that preliminary approvals and a decision by the Louisiana Bond Commission still had to occur.
The following is the email Kleckley sent to the American Press reporter Eric Cormier.
As pointed out in the recent editorial regarding the artificial turf project for Barbe Stadium, usually an “announcement that a million dollars is headed toward your school is good news. Very good news.” That would be true if we had gotten all the preliminary approvals and the bond commission had agreed to include the money in this year’s state bond sale. However, final approval for that project is several weeks away, if not months away.
Each year the legislature includes more projects in the capital outlay bill than can be funded. Just because a project is listed in the bill does not mean that it will ever receive State funds.
Each year legislators have an opportunity to include local projects for their district in the capital outlay bill. Those projects may be local in scope but have a positive benefit for the local community. For years I have heard people complain that process and then complain that we have not received our share of funding in SWLA for similar projects.
When the Barbe coaching staff indicated they could use money to improve the athletic facilities at Barbe, which includes a new turf field. I thought there were some worthwhile projects. Although voters in the Westlake area approved funding for a similar project for their stadium, I realized that passage of a tax for such a project in the Barbe district was unlikely.
I also realized that the School Board needed to make the final decision on the use of the money and amended the capital outlay bill to simply state “Facilities Improvements, Planning and Construction ... Payable from General Obligation Bonds ... Priority 2.” That means the money was not limited to improvements at Barbe Stadium.
However, given all of the adverse publicity that this project has received and the competition for other local and state state projects, funding for this project will be difficult at best. Therefore, I have advised the School Board that we should drop the matter and move on to other issues.
Posted By: P.Q. On: 7/12/2012
Title: Well ATC...
Why don't Lagrange do what other schools like Barbe and Westlake do to get facilities? They sure did not complain about what somebody else has and they don't.They did the foot work and got it themselves. It is no secret that winning programs bring in large dollars so that could also be a starting place.Get the people in your school district behind you and get them to support a tax or bond election for money like Westlake did to get the fine facilities they have.People in Westlake do not care what the rest of the crybabies in Calcasieu parish think because they use their own money for everythingWipe away the tears from the whining and crying and get to work getting what you need.Remember, you reap what you sow.
Posted By: ATC On: 7/12/2012
I am an Athltic Trainer at Lagrange High School. I have been putting in work order after work order for 2yrs now to get some light bulbs in the training room. They have no practice field so the playing field is dust by the time the season starts. They don't even have a field house. Washington-Marion isn't much better. These boys play with very little accomadations but with lots of HEART. I'm so sick of reading the paper or watching the news at night only to see BARBE, BARBE, BARBE!
Posted By: Karen On: 7/6/2012
Title: $1,000,000 for TURF?
I'm glad Kleckley pulled away from this foolishness. Where is equality in Calcasieu Parish? Some schools don't even have their grass cut. Spend the money on better the school.
Posted By: Dwighthe On: 7/6/2012
Title: Only the coaches asked for money?
So only the Barbe high school coaches asked for money? Did Mr. Kleckley, who should be looking out for his whole district, pick up a phone and ask the school board or the police jury or the city of Lake Charles what is the best use of the money that he may have available. Or did he ignore them since they did not come groveling to him for his favors.
In this case, he says, "we should drop the matter". Sort of like taking his toys home in a huff.
He also said "For years I have heard people complain that process and then complain that we have not received our share of funding in SWLA for similar projects." Yes, many of us have reservations concerning the process, but we don't have the power to change it, so we must hold our nose and deal with the situation as it is. Sort of like we have to do when we go to the polls.
Posted By: Beau On: 7/6/2012
Title: Picking Up Marbles
Sounds like Kleckley is picking up his marbles and going home! I say...throw the RASCAL out!
Posted By: Aaron W.- Westlake,LA On: 7/6/2012
Us Westlake voters didn't vote to just improve Ram Stadium. It also renovated Westwood Elementary for a new library and pickup/drop-off point. It also built a brand new state of the art Arnett Middle School. The old one was almost 100 years old, termite infested and very run down. Barbe coaches crying for a new field turf can be blamed for this being shot down. That athletic dept. makes enough money from baseball ALONE to fund and upkeep a new football synthetic turf.
Posted By: Terence On: 7/5/2012
Title: 4 words
recall chuck the schmuck
Posted By: Sam On: 7/5/2012
Way to go American Press and KPLC, we lose a million dollars b/c you want to sell a couple papers.
Posted By: Pam On: 7/5/2012
Title: Kleckley $1,000,000~ Patty
We can push harder for the recall. We just need you and people like you to help get the required signatures. Are you in?
Posted By: P.Q. On: 7/5/2012
He did not try to get bacon for LaGrange because Lagrange put forth NO EFFORT to get bacon.Let them keep eating green eggs and ham.
Posted By: Patty On: 7/5/2012
Well stated Will! I could not have said it better. I think we should push harded to get him recalled.
Posted By: Will On: 7/5/2012
Title: Kleckley, politics, politics
Rep. Kleckley, Jindal's fetch person, was trying to appease is constituents by this pork and stop his recall. By supporting Jindal's educational package he did tremendous harm to the school's in his district. The million dollar athletic pork was a slick and disgusting way to play politics especially at a time when he and the Governor has no conscience for cutting honest programs that has cause people great harm. Also Rep. Kleckley's northern boundary of his district goes into neighborhoods where children are zoned and attend LaGrange High School. Why didn't he try and get some bacon for LaGrange as well