Search for new St. John superintendent will use outside firm

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 10, 2007


Staff Reporter

RESERVE – St. John the Baptist Parish School Board Superintendent Michael Coburn’s contract will expire on June 30, 2008. The board voted not to renew his contract at the August 2 meeting and now they are beginning the search for a new superintendent.

At Thursday’s regular board meeting, a presentation was heard from a consulting firm, which was hired by the board to help find the new superintendent. The measure passed by a vote of 9-2, with Dowie Gendron and Lowell Bacas voting no.

The early decision to not extend Coburn’s contract gives the School Board time to search for a new superintendent. At the meeting, McPhearson & Jacobson, a company designed to find administrative employees, presented a plan for the new superintendent search. They expect to have a fresh face ready to go by April 1, 2008.

St. John School Board President Gerald Keller says that the board is leaning toward a new superintendent in terms of curriculum and structure in order to improve LEAP Test scores.

&#8220We’re not satisfied with our test scores,” said Keller. &#8220Student test scores have flat-lined.”

Superintendent Coburn says that since his induction in 2001, students have been reading more and have been provided with the assets to do so.

&#8220We got our kids to read. They’re reading more books than they’ve ever read in their lives,” said Coburn. &#8220We’ve revitalized libraries and stocked our libraries with books. In 2001, there were hardly any books in our libraries. Now students are reading in the hallways, at home, on the school busŠ”

Keller says that just because students are reading more doesn’t necessarily mean that their test scores are improving.

&#8220I’m glad that students are reading,” he said. &#8220But the comprehension of the reading is what’s important. Students can read 25 books, but it doesn’t make a difference if they’re not comprehending it.”

Veteran School Board Member Clarence Triche agrees that the Parish needs a superintendent with experience in curriculum as opposed to administration. He also said that the Parish is ranked much lower in test scores than it is in finances.

&#8220We need to establish a much better curriculum,” said Triche. &#8220We need to improve our test scores.”