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St. James school openings face few glitches

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / August 26, 1998

LUTCHER – There were a few glitches, but for the most part the first two days of school went smooth in the St. James Parish Public School System.That was the report the system’s principals gave to the St. James ParishSchool Board at its meeting Tuesday night.

Monday was the first day of school in the parish. New schoolsuperintendent Walter Landry visited the schools in the parish as did members of the school board and central office personnel.

A big issue of the first two days was the dress code. Most of the studentsin the parish complied with the new rules with belts being the biggest problem.

Fifth Ward Elementary principal Clara Harris had a busy first day on her first day on the job Monday. She said 99 percent of the students observedto the dress code with the exception being quickly remedied. The day wentnormal until 10 a.m., when a fire broke out in the boiler room. The fire wasquickly extinguished by janitor Shelia Martin after students were evacuated and the central office and fire department notified. Studentswent back to their normal activities after the area was inspected by the fire department.

Around 10:30 a.m., the air condition went on and off, but Harris said thisdid not affect student activities.

“The students went on with their regular activities,” Harris said. “Theyshould be commended for their actions.”Harris said her only complaint was that several new students were registered by the school board office but were not listed on the computer printout at the school, but with the help of the central office and Landry, the transition went smoothly.

Gramercy Elementary principal Eugene Hoover said all students were placed in a class with a certified teacher or substitute the first day of class and that he was happy with the help he got from parents.

“We were very pleased and fortunate to have parent volunteers help with the paperwork,” Hoover said.

Hoover’s recommendations included having a day other than the opening day of school for late registration and to inform parents when their child has a new bus driver.

Morris Mitchell of Lutcher Elementary said the first two days went extremely well. Banners were placed by the staff around the schoolwelcoming the students back. Enrollment was slightly up, and Mitchellsaid the students were very attentive during the assembly. Mitchellcommended the idea of providing service office personnel to assist on the first day of school.

Paulina Elementary principal Mike Avant said enrollment was also up at his school.

“We are looking forward to the school year,” Avant said.

Judy Ezidore of Sixth Ward Elementary said there were few dress code violations at the school and that there was exceptional collaboration between the central office and the school. Ezidore said the classrooms andteachers were organized, allowing them to start instruction on the first day. There was a problem with the air condition, but it was fixed Tuesday.”We are looking forward to a good beginning and exciting year,” Ezidore said.

Vacherie Primary principal Shirley Rodrigue said the students at the school showed exceptional behavior during the first two days. She tookfirst-time parents on a tour of the school. Her only complaint was thatabout one bus arrived 15 minutes after school began and was arriving late in the afternoon.

Nolan Albert of Lutcher Junior High said he had a pretty good first two days as principal. He said the school is on the right track and thatstudents and teachers were excited. His concerns were that many of thesummer repairs were not addressed and that the cafeteria is too small.

There were few problems at Romeville Elementary. Principal GenevaLandry said over 90 percent of the students wore their uniforms and that both teachers and students were motivated and ready for the new school year. One problem was that the intercom system was not working, but shesaid a new system is being requisitioned.

Lutcher High was also off to a good start, according to principal Terry Mullen, who did note that the four computer labs at the school were not working and that there were bus problems due to the 30 extra minutes added to the elementary school schedules. St. James High had a fewglitches in the schedule but was taking care of the problem.

In other action, the board heard a report on the parish’s Sales and Use tax collections for the 1997 fiscal year. Director Gaston Bourgeois said theboard’s share of the taxes is over $8 million, a 11 percent increase over last year.

“This was the banner year of all banner years,” Bourgeois said, cautioning that the majority of the taxes comes from industries and that construction at those industries is winding down.

The board also approved the Fiscal Year 1999 original budget for General and Special Revenue Funds. Director of Financial Management Jim Mitchellsaid that the total budget went over $25 million for the first time.

The board also entered into an emergency agreement with the St. JamesParish Council to make available buses and drivers to the St. James ParishEmergency Preparedness Department in the case of a hurricane or other emergencies.

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