Schexnaydre addresses supporters in District 7A School Board race

Passing the torch: Kent and Wade Schexnaydre

Wade Schexnaydre is a candidate for Ascension Parish School Board’s District 7-A seat.  He was introduced to a roomful of supporters at Kamal’s Cafe in Gonzales on Tuesday by his father, Kent who is a 30-year veteran educator in our public school system who followed his own father into the profession.  A passing of the torch from one generation of the Schexnaydre family to the next, while the candidate did not make teaching his career, Wade’s reverence for educators and Ascension Parish Public Schools explains why he qualified for the District 7-A seat.

“As a product of our great public schools, like so many of you, I understand how vital the system is to the success of our young people and Ascension Parish overall.  Our schools are the reason so many families have moved here over the decades,” the candidate said.  “That population influx has transformed the parish, presenting new challenges for the school system.”

Schexnaydre believes he is the right candidate to meet those challenges, likening the “public school system to other important infrastructure; road and drainage improvements, law enforcement and fire protection.”

“Critical.  It is critical for the future of Ascension Parish that our school system keep pace with the ever-increasing demands posed by continued population expansion,” Schexnaydre said.  “As a Planning Commissioner since 2017 I’ve gained unique insights into the growth patterns and demographic shifts driving the next wave of challenges.”

It is those “growth patterns and demographic shifts” which necessitated the building of a new high school in Prairieville scheduled to open in the fall of 2024.  It was recently announced that the School Board and Ascension Parish Government have entered into a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement for road projects intended to mitigate the adverse traffic impact coming with Prairieville High School.

Lauren and Wade with Speaker of the House Clay Schexnayder.

“I have long stressed the importance of cooperation among our political subdivisions, not only parish government with the School Board but law enforcement and our legislative delegation,” Schexnaydre recalled.  “Fostering that cooperation is a prime tenet of my vision for the future.”

Wade Schexnaydre put forth a campaign platform that includes…

Cooperation: The Sheriff’s Office and Parish Government enjoy many resources alongside Ascension Parish Public Schools.  Opportunities for cooperation, and coordination, between these governmental entities exist which are not being fully utilized.  I want to capitalize on every opportunity to establish mutually beneficial working relationships through Cooperative Endeavor Agreements.  Examples include utilization of APG’s Channel 21 to keep citizens informed, shared funding of transportation improvements around school campuses, and a greater law enforcement presence to enhance school safety.

“In a certain sense we are a victim of our own success, well-performing schools attract new citizens whose kids attend those schools which become overcrowded in short order.  That cycle is projected to continue into the foreseeable future and the School Board must be prepared to address these issues,” the candidate stressed, citing predictions by the Capital Region Planning Commission that envision another 70,000 new residents by 2040.

Schexnaydre does “not necessarily believe in the accuracy of those projections, but we know Ascension Parish’s population is not done growing.”  School overcrowding will continue to be an issue, straining the system and necessitating important decisions by School Board members.  The next, most important vote is anticipated next summer when attendance zones for four east bank Ascension high schools will have to be drawn.

Wendy, Wade and Lauren Schexnaydre

Fairness:  Next year the Board will be called on to cast its most important vote in decades, redrawing east bank attendance zones as a fourth high school is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2024.  The current zones, enacted in 2002, see many of our students bypassing schools every morning to attend others located further away.  Sometimes just downright unfair, I promise a comprehensive evaluation of the next attendance zones to ensure they make sense geographically to maximize the educational opportunities for every student.

The Board’s latest redrawing of the lines resulted in a federal lawsuit by a parent in the East Ascension HS feeder system which dragged on for years.  Ultimately failing, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court decision rejecting the claims of discrimination against EA and its feeder system’s student body.  Every Title I elementary and middle school on the east bank was funneled into East Ascension’s attendance zone.

Title I schools are those in which 35% or more of the student body is eligible for free or reduced price lunch.