Lafayette Parish School System’s newest high school could undergo a major shift in academic focus following its first year in operation if the school board approves Superintendent Pat Cooper’s recommendation to convert David Thibodaux Career and Technical High School into a science, technology, engineering and math magnet academy.
Housed at the now defunct N.P. Moss Middle School, Thibodaux Tech opened in the fall of last year as a ninth-12th grade high school with curricula centered around four career themes: advanced manufacturing, health and applied sciences, business information systems and human services. The school took in only ninth and 10th grade students during its first year, though plans that the board approved prior to Cooper coming on board called for an additional $47 million investment in improvements to Thibodaux Tech.
Cooper, however, is asking the board to designate Thibodaux Tech as a sixth-12th grade STEM magnet academy that will accept 300 middle schoolers and 900 high school students and include dual enrollment and/or dual credit options through South Louisiana Community College.
If the board approves Cooper’s conversion plan at its Wednesday meeting, the $47 million originally slated for the high school would be pared down to $8 million. The remaining funds would be used to address critical overcrowding problems in Youngsville and other pressing matters, Cooper says, like “healthy bathrooms for our other 40-something schools.”
Also on the board’s meeting agenda is a lengthy list of personnel changes for the board to review, including the retirements and transfers of eight principals and assistant principals across the district:
Tina Barnaba - Evangeline Elementary School Assistant Principal, transferring to Curriculum Academic Officer Catherine Fulcher - Ridge Elementary School Principal, transferring to Curriculum Academic Officer Penny Gennuso - Thibodaux Tech High School Assistant Principal, transferring to Math/Science Specialist Kelly Gonzalez - G.T. Lindon Elementary School Assistant Principal, transferring to ELA Specialist Phyllis Ledet - Ernest Gallet Elementary School Assistant Principal Suzanne Kebodeaux - Milton Elementary School Principal Carlton Handy - Northside High School Principal Keith Bartlett - Alice Boucher Elementary School Principal
“We had a few scheduled for retirement, and a couple of more that said they would retire,” Cooper says. “All the principals have been given some pretty tall orders, and some may have decided they didn’t want to, but we didn’t force anybody to retire. We just laid out new guidelines. With all the changes, some people may have said I probably shouldn’t do this anymore.”
Cooper says the other four school administrators transferring to other school system positions are being promoted.
Among the new guidelines for school principals under Cooper’s six-year district turnaround plan is a requirement that student grades and overall performance at each school improve within two years. If the school hasn’t shown tangible gains, the principal’s contract will not be renewed.
The school board will meet at 4 p.m. Wednesday at central office for a public hearing on the 2012-2013 budget, followed by a 4:30 p.m. special meeting to formally adopt the budget. The regular meeting begins at 5:30 p.m.
Read more coverage from The Independent on Cooper’s turnaround plan here and here.
MAY 24 Blogger Robert Mann posts this entry about the Baton Rouge Chamber's recent report on Louisiana's higher education system. It's critical to economic development, and yet our system is facing a "funding crisis" with no way to resolve it, the report says. The Chamber says control of tuition and fees must be returned to the higher ed governing boards.
MAY 24 Here's a NBC33 story about Tyrann Mathieu. He has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, inking a $3 million, four-year deal. He gets a signing bonus of $265K, but gets another, larger bonus if he doesn't get cut from the team for doing drugs. The deal reportedly includes mandatory tests and meetings for the player.
MAY 24 Jarvis DeBerry posts here about the redonkulus rhetoric that would have us believe NOLA is a safe city with a murder problem. Maybe the city's crime stats don't compare with its murder stats because you can't manipulate a murder, he says: a dead body's a dead body. It just doesn't make sense, he says, and his readers agree: a poll asks if they believe the city is safe, and more than 90 percent say no.
MAY 24 Jindal administration officials announced Thursday that the privatization of public health care is going to cost a lot more than they budgeted for, the Advocate reports here. "I'm so surprised," said no one. Anywhere. The cost they're projecting now is more than $1 billion - a lot more than the $626 million budgeted for it. And, it's more than it cost the state to operate those hospitals. So why are we doing this again?
MAY 24 Blogger CB Forgotston ridicules the recent PR campaign by the state GOP in the wake of a legislative auditor's request to both major parties. The GOP (apparently unaware that the Dems got the same request) started yammering about being targeted because it had "killed" a tax increase. CB finds that laughable, but it's also pretty funny that the GOP was comparing this episode to the IRS scandal (Because the President has so much to do with our state auditor. Right?).
MAY 24 Politico details some recent fund-raising efforts by Sen. David Vitter, which have raised the question of his future political plans. This time, it is a $5,000 per head "bayou weekend" that includes "Cajun cooking" and an all-caps "alligator hunt," the story reports. Funds raised go to a super PAC that can spend money to support Vitter in federal or state races, the story points out.
MAY 24 The pink building on Royal in the quarter was sold at a sheriff's sale Thursday, this Picayune story reports. An injunction that would have halted the sale wasn't enforced because the family failed to post a $150,000 bond, the story reports. So the owner of the mortgages on the building bought it, for nearly $7 million. Now the feuding family will have to negotiate with that company to get a lease on the building that has housed their business for close to 60 years.
MAY 23 This post in Louisiana Voice tells us about a bill by a Winnsboro lege that would require all public high school students to take at least one Course Choice online class in order to graduate. (What?) Blogger Tom Aswell says it's a monument to "waste and corruption," especially in light of the problems he's exposed with the program in recent weeks. Idaho had a similar program, but voters removed it by a 2-1 margin, Aswell says.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.