Collaborative opportunities discussed at Tri-Parish Superintendent Forum

Published 10:09 am Wednesday, October 26, 2022

RESERVE — School district leaders from St. Charles, St. John the Baptist and St. James parishes came together for an insightful discussion on October 21 as the River Region Chamber of Commerce hosted a Tri-Parish Superintendent Forum.

Held at River Parishes Community College in Reserve, the forum addressed regional collaborative opportunities; upcoming trends in education, including addressing potential staff shortages; and ways the community can contribute to the success of the local school systems. Each superintendent was given three-to-five minutes for opening remarks before answering questions.

Participants were St. Charles Parish Superintendent Dr. Ken Oertling, St. John the Baptist Parish Interim Superintendent Rebecca Johnson, and St. James Parish Interim Superintendent Kelly Cook.

Johnson said all three superintendents indicated a need for local communities and businesses to invest time, energy and effort by being visible in the school systems.

“Although we love the monetary donations, we need commitment to our school systems, and that means involvement. We also need their help in promoting the positive things happening on a daily basis in our systems,” Johnson said.

She added, “The value of bringing the three local school system leaders together for this event was to allow us to highlight the great things happening in our districts, the challenges we are facing, and also to collaborate on how the local community and businesses can support our school systems.”

Dr. Oertling said the forum was a great opportunity to share stories, collaborate, and learn from one another.

“We have much in common as superintendents in this region,” he said. “The discussion led to possible opportunities to combine resources and potentially take advantage of summer programs. Due to our close proximity, we support each other regularly.”

Chassity McComack, executive director of the River Region Chamber of Commerce, said the event was a perfect testimony of regionalism and how to serve as a unified front for the education system in the tri-parishes.
“Most importantly, the superintendents showed true partnership across parish lines on how it ‘takes a village’ to raise a child. Their focus points of early childhood development and providing the highest level of quality education for all students made a strong resounding statement,” McComack said. “In addition, it was so great to see the show of strong support from the members of how important workforce development is to our current and future workforce.”

— Brooke R. Cantrelle contributed to this report.