Calcasieu School Board splits on spending

  1. Security cameras – stock photo

The Calcasieu Parish School Board was split at Tuesday’s board meeting concerning if, how and when funds should be spent from the $50 million capital outlay fund. The capital outlay funds were allocated from the general fund at March’s board meeting to be used for one-time expenditures for improvements to the overall infrastructure of schools.

Superintendent Karl Bruchhaus presented the board with a request to purchase and install security cameras at all CPSB campuses. Bruchhaus said, while all schools had varying requests for the use of the funds, all schools had security cameras at the top of their lists. Buying the cameras in large quantities would cut down on the overall cost of the expenditure, he explained. 

Board member Damon Hardesty began the debate saying, “I have a problem coming off the top of this money. I’m not understanding why we’re not coming out of the general fund or bond issues like some schools have.” Bruchhaus explained the funds for cameras would not come off of the total $50 million fund but rather off of each district’s allocation. Each school is allocated a portion of the money based on its enrollment.

Other board members continued the debate saying, “That’s not what this money was designated for.” Bruchhaus reiterated that the purpose of the fund is for one-time expenditures and cameras would indeed be a one-time occurrence.

He then compared the board’s behavior to that of adult children, with good jobs, expecting their parents to still pay for meals. “I’m a little worried…Y’all got a bunch of money but nobody wants to spend any,” said Bruchhaus. He warned the board, “This isn’t going to be the only thing that’s going to be like this… You already took 50 million, I don’t know how much more you’re going to want to take out for one-time expenditures.”

The board continued the debate expressing their concern over whether cameras are really the main priority of schools and tried to postpone discussion of the Superintendent’s request. The motion to postpone failed 6 to 6 and the board continued to debate.

Board member Dean Roberts said, “I really don’t care how we pay for them. I just don’t want to dilly dally around until something (bad) happens.” Bruchhaus echoed the sentiment reminding the board of the recent tragedy in Florida and the necessity of timely and appropriate security measures in schools. Eric Tarver reminded the board of its responsibility to students and school personnel and said he “could not believe” the issue was even up for debate.

Ultimately, Bruchhaus’s request was voted into action in a 8 to 4 count. Bruchhaus said he would have the technology department go back and verify the exact number of cameras needed for each campus and then CPSB would begin to accept bids.

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