The past few years have been a time of unprecedented growth for the Lafayette Parish School System. The overall student enrollment has reached more than 31,000 students – its highest level ever. In particular, District 9 in southern Lafayette Parish includes some of the fastest-growing communities in the state. This has required the construction of Southside High School and Martial F. Billeaud Elementary, plus expansions at schools like Comeaux High and Milton Elementary/Middle.

The work is not yet done, however. Many campuses, both in District 9 and elsewhere in the parish, still have temporary buildings that need to be replaced with permanent classrooms. Other aging facilities need expansions or renovations. We’ve been successful so far, with limited funding and no new tax revenue, in making needed improvements. We need to continue that momentum and reaffirm our commitment to making each campus a vibrant and safe space for teachers and students.

Lafayette Parish students have made tremendous academic progress. Test scores and graduation rates have continued to rise. Yet we know we cannot stop. The standards for Louisiana students will only increase, and we need to be ready to meet that bar. We need to continue working with our struggling students, furthering the efforts in the transformation zone. But we also cannot leave any student behind. We need to continue to ensure that all students, no matter their educational need, can achieve success in the Lafayette Parish School System. From the earliest learners in pre-kindergarten to high schoolers earning college credits and industry certifications, we must continue to work each day to make sure no student is left behind.

We know that we will likely have to do this with limited funding. The local and state coffers aren’t getting much bigger. In Dr. Aguillard’s time as superintendent, he found ways to save money, work more efficiently and find funds for the most-needed initiatives, from campus improvements to salary increases. He is a respected problem-solver who knows how to prioritize, and he vows to bring that same mentality to his role as the District 9 school board member.