Opelousas Junior High School has been without a principal for almost half of the school year.
Assistant Principal Anthony Villemarette is now acting principal. Villemarette says even with the changes in the middle of the school, operations are still running smoothly. “It’s been going fine. We haven’t missed a bit. We have an experienced staff. The school district sent over another experienced administrator to help.”
Villemarette became the head of the school after principal, Jude Victorian retired in February. This came after Victorian got into a fight with a coach on campus. St. Landry Parish School Board members voted nine to three last week to put the search for a new principal on hold.
Raymond Cassimere, school board vice principal says, “The board members were more-less concerned with the fact that if we have 37 schools, we are paying for 38 principals. Therefore, we feel that the budget is allowing for this and we feel that’s not necessary.”
Former Melville Elementary Prinicpal Willie Haynes is interim assistant principal. Cassimere says Haynes is getting paid about $70,000 annually….a pay similar to a head principal.
Cassimere says, “We deem that’s a lot of money to be putting out for a extra principal that is not necessary. So therefore that is the dilemma at the present time.”
Board members also wanted students to first finish standardized testing. Superintendent Edward Brown will have final say in appointing a new principal. One teacher says the first couple of weeks without a principal were a little difficult.
Nathan Mastbergen, a teacher, says “Some of us had to take on a few more responsibilities, but we kind of all came together and think it’s actually gone a little smoother the second half of the year than it did the first.”
Cassimere says he’s hoping a permanent principal will be in place by next school year.