Lake Pontchartrain school bringing hope to St. John for improved test scores

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Staff Reporter

RESERVE — The opening of Lake Ponchartrain Elementary in LaPlace, with its conversion from the Glade School, is bringing high hopes to the St. John the Baptist school system district.

The school is a makeover of what it used to be, with everything from new school colors to a new principal, Patricia Triche, brought over from Garyville/Mt. Airy Magnet, which had experienced major improvement during her time there.

However, Lake Ponchartrain Elementary is still in “school improvement 2” put in this category by the state department of education, when as the Glade School, it failed to meet performance standards.

Parents within the district of Lake Ponchartrain now have “school choice,” meaning they can choose to send their child to another school in St. John parish.

At the school board meeting Thursday, Superintendent of Schools Michael Coburn announced the schools qualifying for school choice: West St. John Elementary, Garyville/ Mt. Airy Magnet, John L. Ory Magnet, and LaPlace Elementary.

The announcement of LaPlace Elementary came to a surprise to some, as the school district has worried about the overcrowding taking place there.

The board recently instated ‘judicial custody by mandate,” in the district, which makes it harder for children to use relative’s addresses to attend a school outside their parent’s district.

Coburn and Robert Schaff, supervisor of child welfare and attendance, have maintained the overcrowding of LaPlace Elementary played a vital role in pushing the new policy.

Board Member Matthew Ory stressed concerns at the board meeting, and asked if there was some way the board could put a cap on LaPlace Elementary’s population.

Coburn responded by saying he was worried about John L. Ory Magnet, the district best performing school, and the larger classes school choice could bring to it, but that the state said they needed to do it.

“I don’t think we have a say so in the matter,” Coburn said.

So far, only 22 requests to move students, out of a population of approximately 700, have been made.

Coburn said the children would be chosen by lowest poverty and academic levels.

According to Coburn, the four schools were chosen due to their high performance scores. The state considers schools below a 60 “academically unacceptable,” and these four schools had performance scores of over 70.

“We felt if it would be a sinkage (after school choice), it would not be brought down below 60,” Coburn said.