New St. James school chief plans reorganization

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 16, 1999

By CHRISTINE HARVEY / L’Observateur / June 16, 1999

LUTCHER – P. Edward Cancienne proposed a plan Tuesday to reorganize theSt. James Parish School Board office when he takes over as schoolsuperintendent on July 1.

“The most important thing we can do with time is to plan, plan and plan well,” Cancienne said.

Cancienne said he has learned from his failures and knows change is inevitable.

“We hope we progress more than we regress,” he said.

So for continual progression in the school board office, Cancienne is dividing responsibility into six different areas in order to have “direct line accountability.”The areas are school accountability, student services and resources, business services, auxiliary services and personnel, operations and maintenance and sales and use tax, and each area will have its own director, Cancienne said.

“I’ll support (the reorganization) 100 percent,” board member Lloyd LeBlanc said.

Several openings currently exist in Cancienne’s organizational chart, including the directors of student services and resources and operations and maintenance.

Cancienne is also seeking to fill two newly created positions he said are12-month pilot positions in the office.

He proposed hiring a facilitator of student programs, who would build fun activities, such as theatrical performances, around instruction.

He also said he wants students to go on field trips to places such as plants where they can see skills actually being applied.

“This can be done here, and we need to do this. I am very excited aboutthisposition, and I hope you give it your support,” he said.

Business and industry are financing 50 percent of this new position, according to Cancienne.

The other new position, an essential learnings facilitator, deals with issues like problem solving and communicating results, curriculum modifications and new teaching content, he said.

He also proposed hiring a full-time technician to handle computer repairs.

The board approved advertising to fill all open positions.

“We must focus our attention and resources on the child,” Cancienne said.

In other business, the board approved hiring one facilitator and two LEAP test remediation teachers to work with students on their testing skills for the next school year.

The facilitator will work specifically with teachers at Romeville Elementary and St. James Junior High School, where students scoredparticularly low on the tests, said Millie Matherne, administrative director for the school system’s auxiliary services and personnel department.

The remediation teachers will work in a pilot program with small groups of students throughout the parish in grades four, eight and nine who scored unsatisfactorily on the spring 1999 LEAP tests, she said.

The positions, all made possible by a grant, are for one year only.

Board member Kathleen Becnel worried that these new remediation teachers would not be able to handle all the students who will need help next year.

“I’m afraid it’s going to be more children than you expect,” Becnel said.

Member Willis Octave agreed with Becnel’s assessment of the situation and called for the board to amend this plan and use local funds to hire an additional two remediation teachers.

The parish then could have two remediation teachers on each side of the river, Octave said.

LeBlanc suggested seeing how the pilot program works out before hiring an additional two teachers who may not be needed.

The new teachers are two more than the parish had last year, he said.

But Becnel was still unsure that the students would have enough help, especially with reading comprehension.

“If they can’t read, they can’t take tests,” she said.

The board did note vote on Octave’s suggestion for an amendment to hire the additional teachers, so he said he wanted to add the item to the next meeting’s agenda.

“I hope we give serious concern to remediation,” Octave said.

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