Watkins to miss Aug. 7 opening

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 3, 2008


Staff Reporter

RESERVE – The St. John the Baptist Parish School Board has still not determined an opening date for the delay-stricken Emily C. Watkins Elementary School, but a committee is scheduled to meet Monday morning to draft a contingency plan and recommend a possible starting day at the next board meeting July 15.

At a special meeting Tuesday, Superintendent Courtney Millet stated unequivocally for the first time that the school would not be ready for its scheduled Aug. 7 opening.

“The walls and floor may be there,” she said. “It just won’t be ready for us to open on Aug. 7.”

High water levels in the Mississippi River have delayed the school’s construction, as Entergy has not been allowed to install power poles along the levee. Millet and School Board President Gerald Keller had acknowledged the unlikelihood of a punctual opening but had not ruled it out.

The board is also still awaiting approval from the Justice Department of the revised attendance districts, which were adjusted to include the new school.

“A decision has not yet been made, however, [a Justice Department representative] did suggest that we could go on and plan with the zone that we sent,” Millet said. “But there are other issues that they are looking at.”

Also at the meeting Tuesday, the board approved the following eight master teachers for the 2008-2009 school year: Belinda Bailey, West St. John High School; Patricia Oubre, West St. John Elementary; Melissa Faucheux, Lake Ponchartrain Elementary; Suzanne Remondet, Fifth Ward Elementary; Toni Ruiz, LaPlace Elementary; Nita Jones, East St. John Elementary; Sylvia Bailey, Garville/Mt. Airy Magnet; Monica Brown, John L. Ory Magnet/Emily C. Watkins.

Before being approved June 10, the master teacher proposal was met with resistance from some board members who questioned the purpose and minimum requirements of the position, and curriculum coordinators, whose positions were eliminated by the new position.

Four of the new master teachers were previously curriculum coordinators.