[StBernard] Two seek 7th District School Board post in St. Bernard Parish
westley at da-parish.com
Sat Sep 25 11:57:55 EDT 2010
Two seek 7th District School Board post in St. Bernard Parish
Published: Friday, September 24, 2010, 6:22 PM
Updated: Friday, September 24, 2010, 8:09 PM
Bob Warren, The Times-Picayune
Two candidates are vying for the 7th District post on the St. Bernard Parish
School Board Oct. 2.
The term is for four years and the position pays $600 per month.
Longtime incumbent Diana Dysart says she is campaigning on the strength of
her record on the board, noting a number of programs she helped usher in and
her service during and after Hurricane Katrina, when the school district
managed to reopen a school to 334 students just 75 days after the parish had
been swallowed by floodwaters.
Dysart's opponent, Joe Sherwood of Chalmette, 34, did not return a
Times-Picayune candidate questionnaire outlining his background or what he
believes are the main issues in the race. Reached Friday at his home, after
several other attempts for comment, Sherwood said he got into the race
because he wants to be involved in making the schools better.
"I'm just a regular guy who believes if you complain about something, you
ought to be willing to be part of the solution,'' he said.
Dysart said she has been part of the solution for a long time.
"I've been a leader on the School Board,'' Dysart said, noting she has
served several terms as board president. "As a leader on the board I've
tried to bring together the various opinions and push to a common goal of
making the system better. The board we have now is very cooperative and
collaborates very well. I have the experience and can deal with a number of
Dysart said she is proud of the board and district's post-hurricane
performance and lists completing the rebuilding plan at the top of her
"Before I was even rebuilding my own house we were rebuilding the school
system,'' she said. "We knew we had to open schools to provide for first
responders and people coming back.''
To that end, she said, the board and administration made sure that
employees' health insurance was carried after the hurricane and when FEMA
wasn't acting fast enough the district took out a loan for trailers to
provide employees a place to live. The board adopted a five-year rebuilding
plan that is nearing completion. Currently 10 schools are in operation. The
district's enrollment is near 6,000 students.
"I'm very pleased with our rebuilding plan,'' she said. "We grew from 334
students that first day to close to 6,000 students now.''
Among her accomplishments, Dysart, who has held the post since 1983, lists
pushing for a return to the traditional classroom setting for younger
students, as well as spearheading the creation of an ACT prep course for
high school students and a program in which high school students can take
courses through Nunez Community College and receive college credit.
Besides following through on the hurricane rebuilding plan, Dysart said she
will push the district to continue raising test scores and that she wants to
seek pay raises for school personnel, although she said the district's
budget is very tight.
Sherwood has several misdemeanor convictions in his past, including pleading
guilty in St. Bernard Parish to theft under $100 and flight from an officer
"I'm not proud of it, but I have to own it,'' Sherwood said.
Staff writer Chris Kirkham contributed to this report. Bob Warren can be
reached at bwarren at timespicayune.com or 504.826.3363.
ST. BERNARD PARISH SCHOOL BOARD 7TH DISTRICT CANDIDATES
. 54. Born in New Orleans.
. Married, four children.
. Graduated from Andrew Jackson High School in 1973. Bachelor's degree in
education from University of Southwestern Louisiana in 1976. Master's of
education and administration from Louisiana State University in 1977.
. Project administrator, GRS. Former teacher.
. Member of Louisiana School Boards Association, Nunez Community College
Foundation and National School Boards Association.
. Attends Our Lady of Prompt Succor.
. School Board's 7th District representative since 1983.
. Has worked on the campaigns of Judge Kirk Vaughn, Judge Jacques Sanborn,
Judge Manny Fernandez, Judge Robert Buckley, District Attorney Jack Rowley
and former Parish Councilman Daniel Dysart.
Philosophy and platform
. Complete the recovery, rebuilding and design of the parish school system.
. Improve test scores.
. Seek pay raises for personnel.
. Meet needs of every child.
. Remain accountable to taxpayers.
. 34. Lives in Chalmette.
. Did not submit information about his campaign.
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