- Associated Press - Thursday, June 5, 2014

ALEXANDRIA, La. (AP) - The Rapides Parish School Board has opted to end its contract with the Rapides Parish District Attorney’s Office and retain James Downs as the board’s attorney upon his retirement from the DA’s office.

As the Rapides Parish DA, The Town Talk reports (https://townta.lk/1oYtzAs) Downs has represented the board since 1994.

Board President Janet Dixon stressed the importance of establishing and developing a positive working relationship with the board’s attorney during a recent board meeting.

Downs, in turn, expressed his dedication to public education.

“This is a thing I’ve done - it’ll be 24 years at the end of this year,” he said. “It’s an enjoyable job.”

He then told the board his family history, which is filled with educators.

“I’m committed to public education,” Downs said. “My heart is in it.”

Through the DA’s office, Downs’ contract was “evergreen,” meaning it was automatically renewed each year.

Through that contract a payment cap of $50,000 per year was in place.

When Downs retires from his position as district attorney, the board can retain him as a private attorney at the state-regulated rate of no more than $175 per hour. Board member Steve Berry estimated the board could retain Downs’ services 22 hours per month to stay within $50,000 per year range.

The new contract also will be evergreen, and it is terminable at will at any time and by either party. Downs’ new contract will take effect on or about Jan. 1, 2015.

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Information from: Alexandria Daily Town Talk, https://www.thetowntalk.com

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