Longtime board member faces outspoken board critic

In next week’s election, Milton Allemand is challenging, for the second time, incumbent Ellis Alexander for a seat on the St. Charles Parish School Board.

It is the only School Board seat out of eight that is being contested. Melinda Huff Bernard, Dennis Naquin, Sonny Savoie, John Smith, Jay Robichaux, Arthur Aucoin and Al Suffrin were automatically reelected without drawing challengers.

Alexander has served on the School Board for two consecutive terms over the past eight years and before that served two terms on the St. Charles Parish Council. He easily defeated Allemand for the seat in 2010.

Alexander comes from a lineage of people connected to St. Charles Parish Public Schools, including a father who was a teacher and great uncle who served as assistant superintendent. Alexander himself began as early as 1969 as a School Board clerk.

Alexander said that despite a student population in St. Charles Parish that is roughly one-third African American, African Americans comprise “probably less than 10 percent” of teachers in the system. He notes, however, that the struggle to recruit African American teachers is one shared throughout the nation.

“Whenever you find quality African American teachers, there’s a fight for ‘em,” Alexander laughed, “they can then name their salary.”

By and large, Alexander said this race does not seem different from the last time he and Allemand squared off, except in effort.

“It seems like [Allemand] put a little more effort in to it last time,” he said.

Alexander said he was pleased with the progress St. Charles Parish Public Schools has made during his last eight years on the board, but that there is always room for improvement.“We have great teachers, but we could always use even better teachers,” he said.

Alexander added that in his eight years on the School Board, he has risen to “nice positions of leadership” throughout the parish, region and nation. He said that his continued presence on the board will allow the rest of the region to benefit from his experience.

Allemand declined interview requests from the Herald-Guide. Allemand is a noted attendee and speaker at many St. Charles Parish Council meetings and has also been critical of the School Board.

Polling locations open at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 4 and close at 8 p.m.

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