Discussions wrap up on long-range planning

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Managing Editor

EDGARD – The final strategic planning workshop for St. John Parish Schools spurred lively discussion at West St. John High School in Edgard Monday.

Ideas sparked included innovative ways to communicate with parents to improve parental participation at school, including launching a Parent Performance Score system, patterned on School Performance Scores, with rewards based on participation.

Points would be added for personal contacts made by parents of teachers and attendance at Parent-Teacher Organization meetings.

A vocational high school was also brought up, as well as prepping students for the workplace by coordinating with local businesses.

Superintendent Michael Coburn said, “All we’re trying to do is improve our system.”

Retired educator Warren Pierre urged, “We have to make parents aware of the necessity of being good parents.”

Board member Russ Wise added, “Education is just too important to be left just to the educators.”

After reviewing past meetings, facilitator Ruth Hinson of the Louisiana Alliance for Education Reform, Tulane University, organized discussion from the half-dozen community members present.

Allen Hebert, whose wife, Irene, teaches at West St. John Elementary, prompted discussion on a vocational high school. “We get them next,” he pointed out. “However, ideas are good, but we need to pay for them,” as he added on the need to strengthen the economic tax base on the West Bank of St. John Parish.

The strategic planning sessions, which began in February, addressed the system’s purpose and mission, accomplishments, present situation and plans for the future.

Another problem is that too many students are satisfied with less and want instant gratification. “Many scoff at success and are content with mediocrity,” Wise observed.

Wise, who pushed for the series of meetings, says these meetings are laying the groundwork for the next 10 years of school planning, from the need for more schools to curriculum changes to ways of teaching.

Coburn observed, “We need to move our system forward and faster and better,” and added, “What we are creating here is a living, breathing document.”

Following compilation of all the ideas and suggestions presented to the educators from the community, a draft plan for future growth and development will be made public, Coburn said.