John L. Smith, a veteran member of the St. Charles Parish School Board, was re-elected for a second term as president of the Louisiana School Boards Association during its annual convention held in Marksville on March 3-6.
Smithís election to the position for a second term came on the heels of President-Elect Brett Boninís recent loss in his bid for re-election to the Orleans Parish School Board.
In his State of LSBA address to the membership during the convention, Smith reported on the status of eleven goals he laid out for his first term. Perhaps the most significant among those goals is that he declared the LSBA would spearhead and coordinate a legal challenge to provisions of Act I and Act II recently passed by the Louisiana Legislature as part of Governor Jindalís Education Reform package. On Nov. 30, 2012, the 19th Judicial District Judge Tim Kelley ruled that Act II, which created a statewide voucher program, represented an unconstitutional diversion of state dollars designed for public schools. The ruling was appealed by State Attorneys and is scheduled to be heard in the Louisiana Supreme Court on March 19, 2013.
In a separate case, Judge Ivan L. R. Lemelle ruled (Nov. 26, 2012) that Act II conflicts with a desegregation agreement in place in Tangipahoa Parish. In another case involving Act I of the 2012 Legislature, State District Judge R. Michael Caldwell ruled, among other things, that the law unconstitutionally transferred powers of school boards to hire and fire teachers and other employees to principals and superintendents.
When asked why he chose to run for a second term, Smith replied, "These are extremely important times for public education in Louisiana and across this nation. There is a well financed movement by corporations, profit-driven coalitions and their political allies to privatize public education. I think that it is imperative that I continue advocating for public education and the issues and objectives on behalf of LSBA."
Smith said it is essential that the LSBA maintain steady leadership while being faced with the changing landscape of education in Louisiana.
"I think I owed it to the students and districts of Louisiana to continue what I had set out in my first term to obtain. I want to be of service and feel that the best way is to continue for another year as LSBA president..
"I would like to thank the members of LSBA for their faith and confidence in me to lead them for another year. I am humbled by this honor and look forward to what the next year will bring," he said.
Smith said that he and the LSBA staff have planned a series of Regional Public Education Summits across the state to discuss issues and challenges for public education. The public as well as elected officials are invited to attend. LSBA has also published its LSBA 2013 Legislative Frameworks. The frameworks outline ten priorities the organization will pursue during the upcoming session of the legislature.
Smithís term will run from Feb. 2013 - Feb. 2014.