Natchitoches School Board members Rev Steven Harris, Reba Phelps, Lela Harvey and Billy Benefield held a town hall meeting at East Natchitoches Elementary School Wednesday, June 21. Superintendent Eloi is attending a Superintendent’s meeting in Baton Rouge. East Natchitoches Principal Chrystal Davis is in New Orleans where she is attending the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching meeting, one of only a few Natchitoches educators chosen to represent the district. City Councilwoman Betty Sawyer-Smith attended as did NPSB parents Mayor Ronnie Williams and First Lady Tiffany Williams. The Town Hall covered a wide range of subjects ranging from anti-truancy initiatives to Dual Enrollment Opportunities. Board President Benefield and the other board members present reported on the progress the system has made and their plans for the system’s future.
ECHO Ride, the school system’s transportation provider was also on hand for anyone wishing to earn some extra money as a bus driver. The starting pay is $13.00/hr. Persons already having a Commercial Driver’s License will receive a $3,000.00 signing bonus. Those without a CDL will receive paid CDL training and a $2,000.00 bonus. If you are interested in this great opportunity, please contact Ms. Debra Pardee at 318-663-9353.
East Natchitoches Elementary’s 330 students will have a band next year as well as music and art classes. The school also hosts a 4-H, K-Kids and Ambassadors club as well as a theater program. The school sent nine students to compete at the state Social Studies Fair and 4 students to the state Science Fair, both at LSU. The East Natchitoches Eagles were the only Natchitoches school to compete at the Regional and State Science Fairs, a testament to their, and their teachers’, hard work and dedication.
The district’s Dual Enrollment program is an incredible opportunity that Dr. Eloi and the board wish to make more well known. It is possible for a student in a Natchitoches public school to earn college credits up to an associate degree while still in high school. Board president Billy Benefield pointed out that parents can save the cost of up to two years of college. For those on TOPS, the student can use the two years saved to pursue a master’s degree using TOPS, an outstanding opportunity made possible by early college credit-at no cost to the student or their family.
For those looking for career opportunities not involving college, the school system is starting an industrial maintenance program in conjunction with the mills in Mansfield, and Red River as well as Roy O. Martin, Alliance, and Weyerhaeuser. They have agreed to hire students completing the program after graduation. The new graduates will begin their careers immediately after high school, having already completed a good deal of training and will be placed in jobs with full benefits paying well over $50,000.00 per year. The upcoming year will be the first for the program and will have an initial intake of 10 students. As board president Benefield stated, “the school system is looking to be an economic driver for the parish”. The NPSB Career and Technical Advisor, Mr. Mike Stewart comes to the school system with a wealth of real-world experience after retiring from a career at International Paper at Mansfield.
Natchitoches Central High School currently has 17 students who scored 30 or above on the ACT, a bottom-line indicator of quality. Both NCHS and Lakeview offer the life changing opportunity of dual enrollment. In the case of the industrial maintenance program, they are the only two high schools in the state of Louisiana to offer that program. The Natchitoches Parish School system has greatly improved over the past few years and is heading in a n exciting direction.