Qualifying for the St. Charles Parish School Board ended last week and there are four new names in the running.
One of them, Art Aucoin, has already won the seat for District 7 because he is running unopposed.
Aucoin, who served as a teacher and coach at Hahnville for seven years, said that he and current District 7 board member Stephen Crovetto are “long-time friends” and that he has asked Crovetto for some advice about the position.
“I’m not in there to make a bunch of changes, because I think we have a great system…I want to make sure that things stay on the right track,” Aucoin said. “Being a member who has kids in the system and being a product of the system and having taught in the system, I will be able to bring a few new ideas to help us in a few ways.”
Crovetto decided not to run for re-election in order to pursue other goals and ambitions and he fully supports Aucoin taking over the position.
“I send my congratulations to Mr. Art Aucoin in his new position,” Crovetto said in a letter. “Art will be an outstanding member and a great representative of the constituents of his district.”
Like Aucoin, incumbent School Board members Dennis Naquin, Clarence “Sonny” Savoie, John Smith, John “Jay” Robichaux and Alex Suffrin also won their seats for another term because nobody ran against them.
Only two district seats will be determined by the election: districts 1 and 2.
Ellis Alexander, the current representative for District 1, will have to defend his seat against newcomer Milton Allemand Jr.
Alexander said that his main platform will focus on diversifying the school system.
“I think we need more African American presence in St. Charles Parish Public Schools,” he said. “I’m talking about more teachers, administrators, principals and coaches.”
Allemand, a life-long resident of the parish, said that he has followed the workings of the school system for a long time and believes that there is room for improvement. In fact, Allemand has encouraged parents of children in the system to serve on the School Board in the past.
“This public school system is one of the best funded in the state,” Allemand said. “With that said, I believe that our students and teachers should have everything, within reason, they need to provide a quality education.
“I will work to reprioritize the budget to get more funding to the classroom.”
Allemand also said that on several occasions he has requested information and explanations of budget expenditures from Alexander but that he has not been given answers.
Alexander said that he has told Allemand where to find the answers to his questions and that he has twice invited Allemand and his wife to school patron tours, which they have declined to attend.
Allemand also believes that District 1 is not being represented well by Alexander.
In response, Alexander said about Allemand, “How in the world is a white man who drives around with a rebel flag on the front of his truck going to represent a district that has a majority that is black?”
In District 2, Mary Bergeron decided not to run for re-election.
“I’ve been here for 22 years and I just reached a point in my own life where I’m not able to devote the amount of time that I think is appropriate to do the job well,” Bergeron said. “I just made the decision to move over and let someone else lead.”
Running for her spot are Melinda Huff Bernard and Robert “Bobby” Faucheux, both parish natives.
Bernard worked in the parish school system for 25 years as a teacher, administrative assistant, and principal at Luling, R.J. Vial and St. Rose elementary schools.
“I have always wanted to make a difference in the lives of children. I dedicated my adult life to doing so,” Bernard said. “I desire to use my background of knowledge and experience and put it to work for our children.”
Bernard said that she is very proud of the current School Board, but that there is always room for improvement.
“We learn that as teachers and administrators: there’s always room for growth, and I want to be a contributing member and work cooperatively with everyone in the district,” she said.
As principal, Bernard also worked with current School Board members Savoie and Smith.
Running against her is Faucheux, who designs and fits clothing.
Faucheux said that his business experience will help him encourage students to form a clear picture of what they want to do after graduation and to teach them that they can create their own jobs in addition to looking in the marketplace.
He said he can bring integrity, honesty and a willingness to work hard to the School Board table.
“I’ve got two ears. I’ll listen twice as hard as I talk,” he said.
Bergeron said she has spoken to both candidates but does not endorse one over the other.
“Throughout the years I have really resisted endorsing candidates because I don’t think people in District 2 need me to tell them who to vote for,” she said. “As the campaign goes along, they’ll decide who has the attributes and experience to really continue what we have going and improve upon it.”
The School Board elections will take place Oct. 2.