St. James schools superintendent aims at 2nd year growth

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 3, 2008

LUTCHER – With the close of the 2007-08 school year, St. James Parish Schools (SJPS) Superintendent, Dr. Alonzo Luce is already looking forward to some of the significant changes set to take place at the beginning of the 2008-09 school year.

In just his first year as head of the school district, Luce has witnessed many notable accomplishments throughout this past year.

The system ranked third in the Overall Growth Category in the statewide District Performance Scores and Sixth Ward Elementary recognition by Department of Education State Superintendent Paul Pasture, as one of 20 High Performing/High Poverty schools throughout the state, are highlights that Luce expects to reach on an annual basis. SJPS dual enrollment partnership with Nicholls State University which saw students travel to the Thibodaux campus for the first time was also deemed a success, with participating students earning college credit hours in Math, English and Government.

Luce is looking forward to his second school year at the helm of the district that enrolls just under 4,000 students, as additional renovations to the curriculum are set to result in more academic achievement and progress.

By expanding the dual-enrollment program and other existing curriculum in the Career and Technology Center and Science and Math Academy, St. James and Lutcher High students are to be the primary beneficiaries of the initial high school re-design phase.

“I admit that we have many new initiatives set to begin next school year. However, I think our parents, students and educators will experience the immediate benefits of those changes,” Luce said. “Our children are continually showing growth in their test scores. It is necessary that we provide them with the resources and tools to help them sustain their success and move to new heights.”

One of the focus areas of the high school redesign team was to assist students with the opportunity to stay on course for graduation.

Select students will now be able to enroll in the Credit Recovery Program, an initiative that allows students to make up coursework that they failed during the school year. The make-up courses will be held on the campuses at times outside of the regular school day.

“This program is designed just as the name states, for students to recover lost credit, due to failure,” Director of High School Redesign and Vocational Ed, Nolan Albert said. “It’s designed to keep our students on track to graduating with their peers.”

“What’s unique about the Credit Recovery Program is that it is offered at various times outside of the school day, which gives students the time to tend to their scheduled courses, as well as the opportunity to recover their credits they have lost.” Nolan said.

By focusing on accelerated students, dual enrollment courses have given students needed preparation and exposure to college coursework. Approximately 40 students will be attending classes on the NSU campus, in courses such as Speech, Math, English, Physics and others according to student needs and class criteria. English, Math and Chemistry will be offered at the high school campuses through the dual enrollment program.

Students will only be at the SMA for two class periods this year, allowing them to take two high school courses at their base school. However, in the spring, seniors will have the option to travel to NSU to take additional dual enrollment courses. NSU courses will be held Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Students are required to have a composite ACT score of 18, an English score of 18 and or a Math score of 20, to be admitted to the program.

“When these students arrive in the college environment in their first year, they have already been successful in college coursework, so they are better prepared for what they will face on their own,” SMA Director, Sheila Guidry said.  “We are also working to enrich our curriculum at grades 7-10 to better prepare students for the dual enrollment experience.”

The Allied Health, Pro-Start, P-Tech and Industrial Maintenance Programs, at the CTC also fall under the Dual Enrollment initiatives, allowing LHS and SJHS students opportunities to earn credit hours offered at Louisiana Technical Colleges.

Four additional classes will be added to Allied Health program for next school year, doubling the number of students in the program geared toward training students in the nursing and medical field. There are now 64 slots available in the program for both the fall and spring semester.

“We are providing our students career opportunities to meet the needs of the “health profession,” Said CTC Director, Dr. Josephine Oubre. “Starting next year, students will earn 2 Carnegie Units for the extra time spent in class in comparison to the 1 ? Carnegie Units offered this school year.

Dr. Oubre remarked that there has been positive response from the students and parents regarding the numerous changes for the upcoming school year.” Because of the growing demand from parents and students, in addition to the area business industry, Dr. Luce added that the Industrial Maintenance program may soon increase its class enrollment.

“During scheduling, students and parents inquired about the additional time that will be added to our CTC classes for next school year,” Dr. Oubre said. “Their responses were positive when informed that students will receive more Carnegie Units for these classes.”

“Many of our changes have come with the expansion of our CTC and Dual Enrollment programs. We are offering more students the opportunity to gain the experience in areas that will prepare them for their post-secondary education options,” Dr. Luce added.