School Board retreat renews comraderie among members

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 22, 2014

By Monique Roth

LAPLACE – St. John the Baptist Parish School Board members gathered in Lafayette March 12 and 13 for a two-day semi-annual retreat that allowed them time to completely focus on the needs of the district.

Topics discussed at the retreat include the redistricting process, academic strategy, LHSAA changes, a superintendent evaluation tool, preliminary budget and a disaster recovery update.

“All of the board members feel they got a lot from this retreat,” Board President Clarence Triche said.

Board member Patrick Sanders said the retreat provided a more relaxed environment for board members to speak freely about their concerns.

“It was very informational, but more than informational, the retreat brought camaraderie among board members,” Sanders said. “What became our focus was ‘Moving Every Student.’”

“Moving Every Student” is the slogan encompassing the district’s academic strategy, with the goal that each student moves up and improves. Keeping board members informed about the strategy and getting their feedback about where they would like to see the district go was one of several topics discussed.

Board members also heard presentations about changes related to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association, redistricting, budget expectations and discussed the process for board committees. Board members also agreed on a new tool to evaluate the superintendent.

“All of the board members present agreed on the superintendent’s evaluation tool,” Triche said. “This is the first time in 26 years we have had a new evaluation tool.”

Triche said Kevin George, St. John Parish’s superintendent, will be evaluated using this new tool sometime this summer.

Board members also received a status update at the retreat from All South Consulting Engineers on disaster recovery at Lake Pontchartrain Elementary and East St. John High schools.

While the district is still awaiting final approval from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on its application to the Sandy Act Alternative Procedures Pilot Program, officials are already laying the groundwork for construction at the two schools flooded during Hurricane Isaac.

At East St. John High School, All South has been meeting with teachers and school administrators to get their feedback about the needs at the school. Design and permitting are already in progress, and construction at the school could begin as early as July.

At Lake Pontchartrain, officials are exploring two options, either building a new school or renovating the

existing school. Officials are awaiting the results of the May 3 election, which includes a measure that would authorize the board to borrow the additional funding needed to build a new school, before deciding how to proceed. The proposed measure would not increase taxes.