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Resource officer, counselor top lists of requests

STACEY PLAISANCE / L’Observateur / September 23, 1998

RESERVE – Principals of West St. John High and Fifth Ward Elementaryaddressed the St. John Parish Curriculum Committee Monday with requestsfor improvements, as these schools were cited in the district’s 20 percent lowest achieving last school year.

West St. John High Principal Glenda Gaudet requested the assistance of aresource officer on school grounds, a $27,000 computer lab and an administrative assistant to aide in improving student achievement. Shesaid the presence of an officer in uniform on school grounds would curtail potential discipline disturbances, allowing Gaudet and other administrators to spend more time in the classroom where attention needs to be directed.

“Somebody needs to walk the grounds and make sure everything is going smoothly and that kids are where they need to be,” Gaudet said. “Then Ican stay in the classrooms instead of having to do it myself.”With only one computer lab with 30 stations currently serving grades 8- 12 at the high school, Gaudet said it is vital that another computer lab be constructed in order to allow students ample access to math and reading enhancement opportunities.

“I realize that a computer lab is a request that can’t be granted this week or even this month, but we need to get something,” Gaudet said. “We willtake whatever we can get until we get the lab so that we can start getting the grades up.”Fifth Ward Elementary Principal Nora Pierre submitted a School Improvement Plan with requests totaling $310,000. Pierre said the hiringof a school counselor and staff development are of primary concern. Pierreand her staff cited the school’s strengths and weaknesses, and she presented these findings to the committee.

Three areas of focus for improvement included student achievement, discipline and parental involvement. Strengths included studentattendance averaging 95 percent for the year, a caring faculty with a mixture of races and experience and a clean, bright building for instruction and learning.

Pierre said a counselor would be a valuable asset to the school as the majority of students at her school endure experiences different from students at other schools.

“The experiences of these children are not as good as those by children at other schools, but they are eager to learn,” Pierre said. “We want acounselor to show these children what’s expected and what’s not.”A counselor would also be a pro-active participant in establishing self- esteem and confidence in young students, Pierre added.

“We want our kids to have their confidence boosted, and a counselor can offer self-esteem programs,” she said.

Having a guidance counselor who can provide various methods of conflict resolution and supervision would greatly benefit the students and the school, she said.

Other requests for Fifth Ward Elementary included three additional aides, three additional teachers, after school tutors, substitute teachers, a Project Read teacher, supplies and workshops and conferences.

Associate Superintendent Chris Donaldson said Fifth Ward Elementary is already overstaffed, and the hiring of more personnel may be difficult to justify.

No final action was taken on either School Improvement Plan.

Superintendent Cleveland Farlough said both plans need further development as to the schools’ specific needs and how these requests would improve student performance.

“You can’t just bring in a wish list,” Farlough said. “Use direct funds toaddress priorities, and be specific and justify what you need in addition to that.”The committee will meet for discussion and will meet again with Gaudet and Pierre at a later date to further assess the needs of both schools.

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