By Natalie Covher
The Natchitoches Parish School Board meeting Thursday, Aug. 4 opened with a power point presentation on Community Schools by Louisiana Association of Education President Deborah Meaux.
The perception of how schools should work hasn’t changed for a very long time: teachers teach and students learn. The community school model creates an atmosphere where children and families have an array of support from community partners right at their school. Meaux proposed that one or two F or D schools be chosen as pilot schools for the model. She explained that there is grant money availablefor the implementation of the model.
Community Schools show positive results including higher graduation rates, reduction in black/white achievement gaps, reduced absences, increased academic achievement and more. The power point showed a six-point strategy:
- strengthen curriculum
- improve student assessments that help teachers teach
- wrap-around supports such as health care, eye care and social and emotional services
- positive discipline practices such as restorative justice
- transformational parent and community engagement
- shared leadership philosophy
Director of Curriculum and Instruction Laura McClain reported that professional development sessions have been a strong focus for teachers preparing for the upcoming school year. She mentioned that curriculum teams have been working to revise science and social studies. She also announced that there will be three sessions held for teachers on Eureka Math.
“Eureka models are different and we have some people coming in to help teachers with lesson planning,” said McClain.
School Board President Ralph Wilson asked McClain about options for students that are unable to succeed in the current traditional schools or alternative schools; mentioning the state requirement to offer education to them until age 22. He stated that he knows of three students in this position,one of which has already dropped out. McClain responded they’d need to be looked at on an individual level and that it’s best to address concerns early in the student’s education.
“The alternative school works if you’re willing,” said School Board Superintendent Dale Skinner. “If a student won’t come to class and won’t do anything they’re supposed to do there isn’t anything else we can do for them.”
Steven Harris motioned to accept the meeting agenda, except letter I of the Finance Items and Russel Danzy seconded. Letter I listed Moneta Hamilton and Latonia Mims of Weaver Elementary School as terminated effective Aug. 1. School board members don’t vote on terminations.
There was discussion on the pedestrian traffic between Natchitoches Jr. High-Frankie Ray Jackson and L.P. Vaughn. The board decided to examine it further before making a decision.
The board then considered naming the area where Natchitoches Magnet and the Frankie Ray Jackson Sr. Technical School are located. With Magnet moving into the Parks building and Parks moving into L.P. Vaughn’s facility, there is a debate over keeping the Parks name attached to the area.
“I hope we don’t get into this school naming thing again,” said Joella Wilson.