When a flock of new candidates were running for seats on the Lafayette Parish School Board in 2014 it was clear what voters wanted — financial stability and consensus on how to get there.

“It was one of the major campaign issues of 2014,” said Justin Centanni, who was elected to represent the part of the parish surrounding Lafayette High both in 2014 and 2019. “It was a goal that we didn’t have to talk about. It was a goal that the voters of each of our districts said was a priority for them.”

Centanni was one of seven new members elected to the nine-member board six years ago. 

That wasn’t the only major shift for the school system at the time. Just days after the election, then-Superintendent Pat Cooper was fired with a little more than a year left on his contract due to alleged violations of state law and board policies.

Centanni said board members and the superintendent had “really been at odds on what the budget should look like.”

Justin Centanni- District 6- Lafayette Parish School Board members are sworn in during meeting by Clerk of Court Louis Perret. Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020.

“The entire friction between Dr. Cooper and the board was about the budget,” Centanni said. “So as a result the money that Dr. Cooper had been spending was not in line with the budget the board eventually passed. So there were some real issues that had to be resolved.”

Voters were not only aware of it but also vocal about it, especially whether money that traditionally goes to teachers in an annual bonus check should instead be used to hire more teachers.