Initiated by Alderman Larry Cardaronella, the discussions began as a heartfelt thanks to members of the town and those involved in doing work recently at the town's middle school. Cardaronella expressed appreciation for the middle school principal Alexis Hookfin, as well as the community as a whole for its dedication to constantly improving the schools.
However, Cardaronella proceeded to address issues with the schools and the fact that those issues have not been addressed properly by the School Board. His complaints included that the School Board does not distribute funds equally throughout the parish, nor does it respond to the needs of schools with an unbiased attitude. His bottom line - don't pass the millage proposed by the school board.
Cardaronella recounted how in the past, the town itself had passed taxes to raise funds for improving its schools, after becoming fed up with the inaction by the School Board. With that still in mind, Cardaronella and other townspeople of Independence have a negative view of the newest proposed taxes, especially since they feel that School Board funds are already unequally dispersed.
Citizen John Polito compared the School Board expenditures for Ponchatoula's schools versus the central-parish schools like Independence High, culminating in saying, "the School Board has made that [Ponchatoula High School] the 'flagship school' of Tangipahoa Parish."
School Board members Andy Anderson and Brett Duncan were present at the meeting, and, while they could not speak heavily on the issue, they both advocated community awareness and involvement in School Board decisions and propositions.
Speaking on the School Board's desegregation plan, Andy Anderson said, "this plan needs to be clearly and succinctly stated. That's all anyone asks of any type of election." Brett Duncan followed up saying, "my major complaint with the desegregation implementation plan has been that we didn't meet with the public first."
While Alderman Richard Navarra vouched that the exhibited opinions were those of the individuals sharing them, not of the council as a whole, it seems that many people in Independence are against the desegregation plan and the accompanying proposed tax, including certain Aldermen for the town.
Other matters at the regular meeting included:
• voting on an 45 day extension for the property of Sam Dileo.
• discussing courses of action for a condemned home on Garon Lane
• hearing from Fire Chief Dennis Crocker about replacing Blain Herring with Larry Macalusa due to Herring resigning from Independence's fire department to go back to the parish.
• considerations for work orders and computer programs for work orders for the Town Maintenance - tabled.
• renewal of the annual intergovernmental agreement for Animal Control between the parish and the town.
• a mock car crash for the high school to deter drinking and driving.