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Iberville Parish School Board nixes plan to re-design meeting desk for $44,000 of taxpayer money

Some Iberville Parish School Board members were looking to spend thousands of tax dollars to re-configure a desk less than a year old.
Published: May. 9, 2022 at 10:52 PM CDT|Updated: May. 9, 2022 at 11:01 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Some members of the Iberville Parish School Board were looking to spend tens of thousands of residents’ hard-earned tax dollars on re-modeling the desk they sit at during meetings.

As part of a massive $1.5 million renovation to the school board’s central office and other buildings, the board room was upgraded with a fancy, new quartz desk for board members.

Some members of the Iberville Parish School Board were looking to spend tens of thousands of...
Some members of the Iberville Parish School Board were looking to spend tens of thousands of residents' hard-earned tax dollars on re-modeling the desk they sit at during meetings.(WAFB)

“We wanted to keep the character and the integrity of the building that was built in the 1800s. That was our focus and our purpose in this project, and the design in it,” said Randy Morales, the facilities director for Iberville Parish Schools.

“It (the desk) lights up in the front. I took a picture prior to tonight’s meeting because I was one of the first to get here in the dark, and it’s absolutely beautiful,” said Darlene Ourso, Iberville Parish School Board Member At Large.

But at Monday’s meeting, some board members were looking to make changes to the less than a year-old desk because they don’t like the shape, and it is hard to communicate with each other.

Any new renovations would be paid for with taxpayer money.

Shown is the design for a remodeled desk that some Iberville Parish School Board members...
Shown is the design for a remodeled desk that some Iberville Parish School Board members proposed.(WAFB)

“But if you lean forward or backwards, you can see each other,” said Ourso.

The money was already set aside months ago.

Iberville Parish School Board member Darlene Ourso voices concerns on social media about the...
Iberville Parish School Board member Darlene Ourso voices concerns on social media about the whopping $44,000 price tag to re-configure the board's year-old desk.(WAFB)

But Board Member Ourso voiced her concerns on social media about the whopping $44,000 price tag to re-configure the desk.

“That would pay for a couple paraprofessionals, bus drivers, and stuff like that. So yeah, our support workers don’t make that kind of money,” said Ourso.

The price tag to replace the board room desk back in August of 2021 started at $68,000.

But then later in the year, the price was dropped to $62,000.

And then a few months ago, after new concerns and feedback from board members about the price tag, they decided that they wanted to re-purpose the desk instead. That price would be around $44,000.

“I think that it is a waste of money because that’s about a salary,” said Theresa Roy, School Board Vice President.

Morales says inflation, surging material prices, and more have added to the already high proposed cost of the project. He says he has no say in the decision when it comes to the future of the desk. That’s fully on the board members.

“It is more than just a desk. It’s not just to take the desk, cut it, modify it back. It also involves electrical, your microphones, your audio, all of your flooring underneath. So it’s a lot more involved than just tearing it down, and putting flooring in its place,” said Morales.

After a lot of discussion, the board ultimately decided to hold off on the plans for now.

“Do you think this decision would’ve been made if Channel 9 wasn’t here?” questioned WAFB’s Lester Duhe’.

“No. I think the attention to the public and my post has raised people’s attention. And this is one thing that has bothered me since day one. That we would spend this kind of money, taxpayers money, re-doing a desk that is perfectly beautiful,” said Ourso.

The move to re-configure the desk is dead right now, but it could be brought up again in front of the full board in the future.

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