Acadia Parish School Board members learned that their enrollment had increased by another 224 students, up from 9,391 last school year to 9,615 in 2012-13.
“Increased enrollment is always good,” said Superintendent John Bourque during his comments later in the meeting.
The school district has seen an increase for four years straight now; increasing from 8,961 to 9,031 to 9,179 to 9,391 and now 9,615.
“We are almost back to our 2000-2001 level,” said Ellen Baggett.
The district boasted an enrollment of 9,688 in the 2000-01 school year.
The district is now looking at the enrollment changes at individual schools in order to decide if certain schools need more teachers to handle the new numbers.
“We need to look carefully at that,” said Milton Simar, school board member, district eight. “I know what the state says is needed, but we need to look at it as what is more effective.”
Baggett agreed, as did his fellow school board members.
Many schools saw minimum change, but looking at numbers from Sept. 10, 2011 and Sept. 10, 2012, some schools have seen deeper changes. Branch Elementary, for example, has seen a drop of 29 students in one year, while Crowley Kindergarten has seen an increase of 49 students and North Crowley Elementary School has jumped 34 students, all according to MFP numbers.
Before the board received its newest enrollment numbers, however, the board officially approved the recommended changes of the Personnel, Insurance and Curriculum committee as a result of legislation.
Policies being changed include changes to school board ethics policies (i.e. the promotion of immediate family members of board members and the superintendent), changes to the structure of the superintendent’s contract (i.e. listing of strengths and weaknesses), as well as new rules concerning teachers’ and bus drivers’ tenure.
The changes were approved, but questions still remain regarding tenure.
For starters, teachers’ must now receive high enough rankings for five out of six years to earn tenure and one bad year could see the revocation of tenure.
Board member John Suire, district four, did question if tenure laws had also been changed for location. In the past teachers must gain tenure in a school district, but with the new changes, questions have arisen concerning whether teachers could earn tenure by teaching throughout the state.
“We’re still awaiting clarification,” said Baggett. “In the past it has been …, but with the new changes, we are not sure.
“It’s a different situation now. We have a conference coming up and we’re hoping for clarification then.”
After the board approved several more measures and recommendations, the meeting was turned over to Bourque, who talked about how teachers and students have begun settling into the new year.
“We’re off to a good start,” he said. “When you talk to your teachers (about Common Core/Compass) and when we (the board) have, I think teachers are starting to calm down about it and understand it and what we are asking of them.
“All we are asking them to do is teach. If they do that we will be alright and they will be alright. They are beginning to buy into that now.
Bourque also said the board would address the parish’s big topic concerning changes to school lunches at its committee meeting, slated for Sept. 19.
The parish has come under scrutiny as it adopted national mandates concerning lunches that saw an increase in vegetables and fruits being provided and a decrease in dairy and proteins.
The next board meeting will be Oct. 1.