School Board approves MOU with NSU for Lab Schools, A+ Coalition awards teacher with $8,500 grant

The A+ Coalition, an initiative of the Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce, awarded a $6,800 STEAM grant to Fairview Alpha teacher Iris Yount at the Natchitoches Parish School Board meeting Thursday evening, Sept. 9. Iris teaches ELA and social studies. She wrote the grant with Samuel Wright who teaches math and science.

The grant will go toward a behavior management system called “Desk Pets.” Desk Pets are little animals students can keep at their desks that can be turned into a fun reward system and a great incentive. Students adopt a pet and can earn food and accessories. They can use their iPads with Apple Pencils to draw their own habitats for their desk pets based off a scene from the ELA unit that they’re learning about. These scenes can be printed off a new printer (loaded with lots of color ink).

Desk Pets also stretch across all the curriculums taught in the fifth grade. This will also help students visualize math problems by making them more real. It will also engage students in the process of scientific inquiry.

“This is a huge investment in our community,” said Chamber President Laura Lyles, who shared that the grant will help students for years to come. “We want to thank the businesses that contribute to the A+ Coalition and the Chamber Education Fund. They have made this possible.”

In other academic news, Dr. Kim McAlister, Dean of the Gallaspy College of Education and Human Development at Northwestern State University, spoke to the Board regarding a Memorandum of Understanding between NSU and the School District for the two NSU Lab Schools. This MOU, approved by the board at its meeting, will put infrastructure into place to meet the goal of seeing some explosive growth in both schools.

New initiatives have been put into place to pilot for the 2021-2022 school year. One is the elimination of one of the principals. Karen Coleman is now serving as director over both school campuses as a cost saving measure because the other principal position was coming from tuition dollars.

The funds have been reallocated in a way that directly benefits students. As part of the pilot, new and existing students were allowed to apply for partial tuition scholarships for the academic year. Forty-three students are receiving these scholarships for the 21-22 academic year in the amount of $35,000.

“We’re hoping this removes barriers from anyone who wants to attend the lab schools having the opportunity to do so,” she said.

In addition to this, the Educators Rising initiative has had funds allocated to purchase curriculum. The goal is to increase the pipeline of students graduating from Natchitoches Parish Schools, getting their 4-year degree in education and coming right back to Natchitoches Parish to teach. There’s a cohort at Natchitoches Central high School and one at NSU Middle Lab. The hope is that other cohorts can be started at other schools throughout the Parish.

Agenda items included:

Approve new document for the donation of the Cloutierville Elementary facility to Natchitoches Parish Fire District #1

Approve Memorandum of Understanding with Career Compass, CLTCC and BPCC

Approve the annual MOU between NSU and NPSB for facility usage

Approve 2021/2022 Consolidated Budget as presented

Amend and approve previously passed 3121 resolution to include only long term subs

Approve New positions of Early Childhood Literacy Coaches

Approve amendment to Covid Leave Policy requiring employees who are quarantined due to exposure to seek testing to shorten their quarantine

Approve 2021-2022 Pupil Progression Plan as presented