Forming committee a smart move

Published 11:32 am Sunday, August 10, 2014

A group of local business and industry leaders is working to inform potential Calcasieu Parish School Board candidates on election dos and don’ts, as well as what the duties of the position are.

Forming the Committee for Better Schools in Calcasieu Parish was a smart move in advising qualified candidates who are considering entering the Nov. 4 election.

The committee’s first step in guiding those candidates took place last week with an informative meeting. There was plenty of interest, with more than 30 potential candidates gathering to hear about several campaign-related topics and about what a School Board member actually does after he or she is elected.

Paul Bonin, who heads the committee, said there were a couple of reasons the group came together. One is that six of the 15 current School Board members are not running for re-election. Another is the committee’s growing interest in finding good candidates, especially with the $70 billion announced in industrial expansion projects coming to Southwest Louisiana.

During the meeting, local officials, like Calcasieu Clerk of Court Lynn Jones, talked about qualifying fees and filling out financial disclosure and campaign finance forms. The qualifying period is less than two weeks away.

House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, said that using social media and billboards can get a candidate’s name recognized by voters, but that the most effective way is “knocking on doors.”

There are plenty of responsibilities a newly elected School Board member will have to deal with. The school system comprises 64 schools, more than 32,000 students and nearly 5,000 employees.

Kleckley stressed the importance of School Board members in the community, saying they deal “with the future of our country.” Bonin agreed, saying the committee members “recognized we’ve been asleep at the wheel too long” in not getting involved with finding qualified candidates.

The committee should be commended for doing its part to make sure inexperienced candidates know what they are getting into before they qualify. However, the committee should not try to influence or show bias to any one candidate or group of candidates.

The committee was a good idea — perhaps one that should be considered in other races. Effectively educating candidates should result in effective School Board members.(MGNonline)