After working on the St. John Parish School Board for the past decade, I am proud to say that we’ve come a long way!
Russ initiated the practice of using professional executive-placement firms to help take the politics out of hiring a school superintendent.
– The Jefferson Parish board has just decided to follow St. John’s lead, and there’s now talk that the BESE Board may use the same method to help find the next State Superintendent of Schools. He has also pushed efforts to take politics out of the selection of principals, assignment of teachers, and other day to day operation of our schools.
Russ has supported efforts to reform and reorganize the top level jobs in St. John’s Public Schools.
– These efforts have facilitated the elimination of needless administrative positions that will save about $800,000 a year in salaries and benefits.
Almost single handedly, Russ prevented a contract worth nearly $890,000 from being awarded to a company headed by a man convicted of taking part in the bribery of a public official – the president of a School Board! In 2010, the Legislature passed a new law based upon St. John’s actions.
During the planning phase of the current $46-million in school construction and renovations, Russ insisted that architects design the work to LEED standards – an environmental program that guarantees hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy cost savings to St. John taxpayers over the next quarter-century!
Since joining the St. John School Board, Russ has refused to accept a laptop or a cellphone provided by public money, or even a School Board credit card.
– pays his own expenses while traveling on School Board business.
– refuses to accept Christmas gifts from previous Superintendents and other School Board employees.
– spends his School Board salary on schools-related projects like buying books for school libraries.
– advocates for more transparency in School Board business.
– publicly opposes paying unearned employee bonuses and other unwise uses of tax dollars, saying “It’s not OUR money, it’s THEIR money: the taxpayers of St. John Parish!”