July 2020

Livingston Schools Announce Reopening Plan for 2020-2021 School Year

Livingston Parish Public School Superintendent Joe Murphy announced July 16 that the district has developed three distinct reopening plans that will allow for optimal student instruction while adhering to state guidelines for each recovery phase as determined by the state.

“Our three-phase plan allows our district to be flexible, yet efficient, in adhering to the state’s guidelines for reopening schools,” Murphy said.  “We believe these plans are the most advantageous for all our students.  It is our intent to maximize face-to-face instruction as much as possible, while remaining within the mandated guidelines we have been given.”

Murphy noted that the state is currently in Phase 2 recovery status.  If that were to remain in effect through Aug. 7, which will be the first day of classes for students, the district would implement its Phase 2 reopening plan.  However, if the governor declares a change in that status, the district can swiftly adjust accordingly, he said.

 

Phase 1 Plan

A Phase 1 reopening would require all students, pre-K to 12th grade, except for a small group of students who need assistance, to be provided instruction through distance learning.  Under this format, students will receive instruction through Google Classroom, SeeSaw, or Microsoft Teams digital platforms, as well as live virtual instruction.

Other requirements would include:

  • Students would be seated one per seat in every other seat when riding a bus.
  • No more than 10 people, including teachers and staff members, will be allowed in a classroom.
  • Students would receive hand sanitizer throughout the day, given multiple opportunities to wash hands and be required to wear masks to the greatest extent possible if they are in 3rd grade or above. All employees at the campus would be required to wear masks.
  • Temperatures will be checked every day by the end of first hour. Anyone with a temperature reading of 100.4 degrees or above will be isolated for parental pick up, and next step guidance will be provided.
  • All students will be offered lunch, and possibly breakfast, as “grab-n-go” meals that will be available for drive-by pick up Monday through Friday.
  • All fall sports, as well as band and music, will not be allowed.

Phase 2 Plan

The Phase 2 reopening plan presents a diversified, hybrid model of instruction, based on grade level and capacity.  Students in pre-K to 2nd grade, as well as students needing special assistance, would follow the traditional model of instruction by attending school at their home campuses five days per week.  Students in 3rd to 12th grade would return to school on an assigned schedule and receive a blend of face-to-face instruction at their home campuses and distance learning from their homes or remote locations.  Students at each campus will be divided evenly into an “A” group or “B” group, with one group attending class on Mondays and Wednesdays and every other Friday, and the other group attending class on Tuesdays and Thursdays and every other Friday.

Other requirements would include:

  • Students will be required to complete assignments online using Google Classroom, SeeSaw, or Microsoft Teams digital platforms on those days they are not on campus.
  • Parents will be encouraged to drive their children to and from school as possible. Buses will run with no more than 50% capacity (36 students per bus), and riders will be required to wear masks and to sanitize their hands upon entering.
  • No more than 25 people, including teachers and staff members, will be allowed in a classroom.
  • Students would receive hand sanitizer throughout the day, given multiple opportunities to wash hands and be required to wear masks if they are in 3rd grade or above. All employees on campuses would be required to wear masks.
  • Temperatures will be checked every day by the end of first hour. Anyone with a temperature reading of 100.4 degrees or above will be isolated for parental pick up, and next step guidance will be provided.
  • Students will not dress out for physical education. Locker rooms will be closed.
  • Students will refrain from contact and high-risk sports, as well as band and music.  Some fall sports and extracurricular programs may continue within guidelines.
  • All students will be offered breakfast upon entering their school campuses. Students will eat in their classrooms or designated areas. Students will pick up lunch in the cafeterias in groups no larger than 25 students, and they will eat in designated areas.  Students enrolled in virtual learning, or who are receiving instruction through distance learning that day, will be offered “grab-n-go” meals that will be available for drive-by pick up.  The students must be in the cars to receive the meals.

Phase 3 Plan

A Phase 3 reopening would allow all students, pre-K to 12th grade, to receive face-to-face instruction five days per week on their home campuses.  This traditional model of learning would be possible due to larger-allowed group sizes in classrooms and reduced restrictions on transportation.

Some requirements would still be place:

  • Buses would run with no more than 75% capacity (54 students per bus), and riders would be required to sanitize their hands upon entering.
  • No more than 50 people, including teachers and staff members, would be allowed in a classroom.
  • Students would be given multiple opportunities to wash hands and masks would be recommended for students in 3rd grade or above, as well as for employees.
  • Temperatures will be checked every day by the end of first hour. Anyone with a temperature reading of 100.4 degrees or above will be isolated for parental pick up, and next step guidance will be provided.
  • Contact and high-risk sports, as well as band and music, will be allowed within defined groups.  Wrestling and soccer may practice and conduct intra-squad scrimmages; football may practice only.  Some fall sports may compete, and extracurricular programs may continue within guidelines.
  • All students will be offered breakfast upon entering school campuses.  Students will eat in their classrooms or designated areas.  Students will pick up lunch in the cafeterias in groups no larger than 50 students, and they will eat in designated areas.  Drive-thru meal service will be discontinued.

 

Livingston Schools Institute Enhanced Cleaning Guidelines

Guarantee Restoration Services CEO Shawn Folks, standing center, oversees the work of his employees as they clean and disinfect a sports training room in the Denham Springs High School gymnasium. GRS has been hired to clean all school campuses and the district’s bus fleet during the month of July to prepare for the reopening of school in August. GRS was the school system’s lead contractor for the clean up following the 2016 flood.

Superintendent Joe Murphy emphasized that the number one priority of the district is the safety, health and well-being of students, employees, and local communities during this time of planning for reopening school.

“We have made every effort to ensure Livingston Schools will offer quality instruction and educational opportunities for all our students, no matter their individual circumstance,” Murphy said.  “At the same time, we are following guidelines, working to create cleaner, safer environments and supporting healthier choices and habits to ensure our schools remain safe for everyone.”

He noted that district guidelines enforce enhanced cleaning efforts and tight restrictions on person-to-person interactions.  Those guidelines are posted on the Livingston Parish School website at www.lpsb.org.

The district has employed Guarantee Restoration Services to thoroughly clean all parish campuses and buses this summer.  GRS uses Bioesque botanical disinfectant that minimizes harmful chemicals being introduced into the school buildings.  The company services clients in Louisiana, Mississippi, and the Gulf Coast region.  GRS was the lead contractor hired to clean and disinfect campuses in Livingston Parish after the flood of August 2016.

Once schools reopen, classrooms and buses will be cleaned and disinfected daily with the use of electrostatic sprayers.

 

 

 

June 2020

DISTRICT TO RECEIVE $57 MILLION IN FEDERAL FUNDS TO REBUILD FLOODED SCHOOLS

Livingston Parish School Superintendent Joe Murphy announced the district has been awarded more than $57 million in federal funds to rebuild those school campuses that were substantially damaged during the 2016 flood.

He said the district will receive $51.8 million from FEMA and another $5.4 million from HUD, through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, to build enlarged and much-improved campuses for Denham Springs Elementary, Southside Elementary and Southside Junior High.

“I want to thank U.S. Congressman Garret Graves and U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy for their leadership and assistance with securing this funding for our system.  Much credit goes to them for their efforts to reduce the National Flood Insurance Program penalty against our schools. That action alone saved our district $17 million,” Murphy said.

Murphy noted that FEMA’s standing policy is to assess a $500,000 penalty on every building that was not insured at the time of the flood.  Most school campuses in the parish have multiple buildings on site.  Such a formula would have escalated the district’s overall penalty to $21 million.  However, the Louisiana congressional delegation successfully pushed for FEMA to only assess the $500,000 penalty against each campus, reducing the overall cost to $4 million.

Murphy also noted that the district will be able to replace the flooded campuses with improved facilities, and not simply “build back” what was once there, thanks to the Public Assistance Alternative Procedure (PAAP) Program for Permanent Work, which was approved with the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013.

 

CONSTRUCTION PROCESS UNDERWAY FOR NEW SCHOOLS

Southside Junior High and Southside Elementary Campus

Denham Springs Elementary

 

Superintendent Joe Murphy said the Denham Springs Elementary campus is currently in Phase I of construction, with contractors doing groundwork and sitework drainage.  At the same time, he said the district has received construction bids for the new Southside campus, and the school board is expected to accept a final bid by the middle of July.

“While this has been a long arduous journey for our system, it has proven to be most productive.  Our newly rebuilt schools will provide better learning environments for our students, and they will be built at a larger capacity to manage growing enrollments in the Denham Springs area,” he said.

Murphy said the old Denham Springs Elementary campus occupied approximately 58,500 square feet.  The new two-story structure will measure 80,700 square feet, and it will be equipped with modern technology for greater interactive learning, more efficient lighting and utilities, and house common areas that are better designed for student engagement.

The new Southside campus will house both the elementary and junior high schools.  The combined space of the two previously existing campuses was 148,000 square feet.  The new combined campus will occupy more than 184,000 square feet.  The new facilities will be located at the site of the old Southside Junior High School.  The vacated property previously occupied by Southside Elementary is now home to the district’s STEM & Robotics Center.

“These campuses will be larger, fully code compliant, more efficient and better equipped for learning inside and outside the classroom.  These facilities are designed with continuous learning as a focus,” Murphy said.  “We are excited about what these facilities will mean for our system and the Denham Springs community, and we are most grateful that the federal funding will allow us to cover most of the cost.”

 

PARISH HIGH SCHOOLS HONOR CLASS OF 2020

The parish’s nine high schools are holding graduation ceremonies to honor those students on their campus who are part of the Class of 2020. The graduation schedules are as follows:

High School Curriculum Director Kelly Jones said district officials made plans, including site selections, based on capacity of available venues in light of COVID-19 social distancing constraints.  The Southeastern Louisiana University Center, which was scheduled to host six of the parish’s nine ceremonies, was not available to any high schools, he said.

Jones noted that six of the schools are utilizing the Walker High Gymnasium because it has a seating capacity of 2,200 persons, which limited to a 50-percent capacity, can accommodate 1,100 persons.  The gym is also equipped with live video broadcasting equipment that allows each ceremony to be live-streamed on Walker High’s Facebook page, as well as broadcast in its entirety on local cable stations – Channel 117 on Cox Cable and Channel 130 on EATEL Cable systems.

 

CLEANING SCHEDULE SET FOR CAMPUSES

Guarantee Restoration Services, a restoration company serving Louisiana, Mississippi and the Gulf Coast, has been selected by school officials to provide COVID-19 cleaning services across over 40 school buildings.  The detailed cleaning efforts are scheduled to begin July 6 and cover all parish campuses.

The cleaning company announced that is will use Bioesque botanical disinfectants to minimize harmful chemicals being introduced into the school buildings, while ensuring a safe environment for teachers, staff and students to return to in the fall.  The company will also disinfect the district’s bus fleet.

Guarantee Restoration Services is one of the cleaning companies hired by Livingston Schools in 2016 to assist with cleansing and restoring campuses damaged by flooding.

May 2020

LIVINGSTON SCHOOLS OFFERING FIRST-EVER SUMMER ENRICHMENT PROGRAM

Livingston Parish Schools is offering its students a Summer Enrichment Program from May 26 to June 17 to better prepare them for the next level of math and English/language arts instruction they will receive in the upcoming school year.

This 17-day program, which is open to students currently in Kindergarten through 8th grade, will also serve as a pilot effort for the district to better prepare for continuous remote learning that may be necessary in the coming school year.

Supervisor of Instruction Kelly LaBauve said the program will utilize virtual instruction that will be administered for an hour and 30 minutes each weekday, per subject. Students can sign up for instruction in both math and English/language arts.  She said approximately 2,600 students qualify for the program. The district has set specific criteria for participation and principals have begun reaching out to eligible students.

“This new enrichment program is designed to help close learning gaps that may exist and support our goal of having all students ready to learn at the beginning of the next school year,” LaBauve said.

 

DISTRICT RECEIVES $4.4 MILLION CARES ACT GRANT

Livingston Parish Schools has been awarded a $4.4 million federal grant under the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act), to be invested in three priority areas:

(1) to continuously maintain clean and disinfected campuses;

(2) to increase the number of computers and laptops available to students, bringing the district to a “better than” one-to-one student-to-computer ratio; and

(3) to improve student access to Internet and WiFi services through investments in on-campus and off-campus access points and hotspots, thereby enhancing the reach and clarity of the district’s continuous distance learning efforts.

Superintendent Joe Murphy said the district hopes to make all technology and device purchases this summer and have them in place this fall.

 

LIVINGSTON SCHOOLS RECOGNIZE STUDENT OF THE YEAR WINNERS

The district’s 2020 Student of the Year winners are Bryce Felps, a senior at Maurepas High School; Reese Kennedy, an 8th grader at Denham Springs Junior High; and Evelynn Artieta, a 5th grader at South Walker Elementary.  All three winners competed among nominees throughout they parish.  As the parish winners, they went on to compete in the state’s regional competition, with Kennedy advancing to be a state finalist in the middle school division.

All those Livingston Parish students who were named 2020 Student of the Year winners at their respective schools include:

12th Grade — Grace Purvis, Albany High; Sophie Faircloth, Denham Springs High; Kayleigh Smith, Doyle High; Gabrielle Blanchard, French Settlement High; Carter Alphonso, Holden High; Emily Rushing, Live Oak High; Bryce Felps, Maurepas; Brielle Lee, Springfield High; and Abby Selser, Walker High.

8th Grade — Emma Rogers, Albany Middle; Reese Kennedy, Denham Springs Junior High; Isabella Ferguson, Doyle Junior High; Berkleigh Cormier, French Settlement High; Emma Roshto, Frost; Victoria Hill, Holden Junior High; Casey Winter, Juban Parc Junior High; Brianna Burns, Live Oak Junior High; Brooklyn Jones, Maurepas; Valerie Gautreaux, North Corbin Junior High; Drew Partin, Southside Junior High; Melanie Fletcher, Springfield Middle; and Madison Eymard, Westside Junior High.

5th Grade – Paul Hoyt, Albany Middle; Natalie Robertson, Denham Springs Elementary; Allie Savant, Doyle Elementary; Lily LaBauve, Eastside Elementary; Madison Hill, French Settlement Elementary; Ryan Gelpi, Freshwater Elementary; Kahne Lawless, Frost; Owen Waguespack, Gray’s Creek Elementary; Presley McKinney, Holden Elementary; Adina Bantea, Juban Parc Elementary; Evelynn Artieta, Levi Milton Elementary; Emmarie Peak, Lewis Vincent Elementary; Hudson Hunter, Live Oak Middle; Malloy Miles, Maurepas; Kenley Arledge, North Corbin Elementary; AliBeth Tanner, Northside Elementary; Sadie Foster, Seventh Ward Elementary; Isabelle Olinde, South Fork Elementary; Meredith Lee, South Walker Elementary; Hanna Medero, Southside Elementary; Riley Jones, Springfield Middle; and Micah Thibodeaux, Walker Elementary.

 

TOP TEACHERS AND PRINCIPALS NAMED

Michelle Booth, Elementary Teacher of the Year

Melissa Belgard, Middle School Teacher of the Year

Eric Fasbender, High School Teacher of the Year

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julie Dugas, Elementary Principal of the Year

Bryan Wax, Middle School Principal of the Year

Kris Rountree, High School Principal of the Year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 2020 Teacher of the Year and 2020 Principal of the Year winners for Livingston Parish Public Schools respectively include: Elementary Teacher of the Year Michelle Booth, Juban Parc Elementary; Middle School Teacher of the Year Melissa Belgard, Denham Springs Junior High; and High School Teacher of the Year Eric Fasbender, Live Oak High School; and Elementary Principal of the Year Julie Dugas, Freshwater Elementary; Middle School Principal of the Year Bryan Wax, Denham Springs Junior High; and High School Principal of the Year Kris Rountree, Holden High School.  All parish winners competed in the state’s regional competition, with Wax advancing as a state finalist for Louisiana’s Middle School Principal of the Year.

The top three teachers were selected from nominees from schools across the parish.  Those teachers earning Teacher of the Year honors at their respective schools include:

High Schools – John Legoria, Albany High; Melissa McCaa, Denham Springs Freshman High; Stacey Thomasson, Doyle High; Jennifer Vulgamore, Holden High; Eric Fasbender, Live Oak High; Jo Lynn Hegwood, Walker Freshman; and Bridget Albright, Walker High.

Middle Schools — James Pechon, Albany Middle; Melissa Belgard, Denham Springs Junior High; Jennifer Kemp, Holden Middle; Rebeka Fairburn, Juban Parc Junior High; Robyn Lee, Live Oak Junior High; Janet DeLee, Live Oak Middle; Melissa Anderson, Maurepas; Robin Skinner, North Corbin Junior High; Meghann Ringo, Southside Junior High; Erica Ablak, Springfield Middle; and Alicia Guidry, Westside Junior High.

Elementary Schools – Cheryl Criswell, Albany Lower Elementary; Michelle K. Stewart, Albany Upper Elementary; Janine Archer, Denham Springs Elementary; Mallory Craig, Doyle Elementary; Pam Davis, Eastside Elementary; Anthony Elliot, French Settlement Elementary;  Shannon Seal, Freshwater Elementary; Lindsey Lee, Gray’s Creek Elementary; Shawn Wascom, Holden Elementary; Michelle Booth, Juban Parc Elementary; Emily Artieta, Levi Milton Elementary; Chantel Waguespack, Lewis Vincent Elementary; Tammy Harvin, Live Oak Elementary; Jessica Janis, Maurepas; Jhann Ratliff, North Corbin Elementary; Sealy Pettavino, North Live Oak Elementary; Jeanette Hogan, Northside Elementary; Buffie Harrell, Seventh Ward Elementary; Elizabeth Abbott, South Fork Elementary; Angie Elkins, South Live Oak Elementary; Kayleigh Wells, Springfield Elementary; Angelle Maher, Southside Elementary; and Amber Guillot, Walker Elementary.

 

 

April 2020

12-MONTH EMPLOYEES RETURN TO AMENDED WORK SCHEDULE MAY 4

Livingston Parish School Superintendent Joe Murphy announced that all 12-month employees will return to work at their assigned campuses and the central office on May 4 in an effort to begin a phased-in work recovery from the COVID-19 closures that have been in effect since the governor’s call for a statewide stay-at-home order on March 22.

Murphy said those returning 12-month employees will have an amended work schedule, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday-Thursday.  And while those employees will be on their campuses and administrative sites, those facilities will remain closed to the public.

“Given the critical juncture we are now facing, I believe it’s important that we reinstate our 12-month employees to begin moving forward with finalizing and implementing plans for this summer and into the fall to be adequately prepared for whatever challenges remain ahead,” Murphy said.

 

DISTRICT ANNOUNCES PLANS FOR ACADEMIC CALENDAR

The 2019-2020 school year will end on its regularly scheduled day of May 22, with teachers and school leaders continuing to deliver meaningful educational instruction through a blended model of distance learning to all students through that time.  Final report cards for grade levels will be sent out on June 2.

Graduation ceremonies and other related activities have been postponed, at a minimum, until the month of June and possibly later.

The district will offer credit recovery opportunities through summer education, utilizing virtual learning for the various grade levels.  In some isolated cases, a limited number of students may receive in-person instruction at a campus location, pending state allowances. Superintendent Joe Murphy said the district plans to hold possibly one or two summer sessions for high school credit recovery in grades 9-11, noting that the format may include one session in June and a second session in July, or a single larger session that begins in mid-summer.

The 2020-2021 school year is still scheduled to start as originally planned on Aug. 7, 2020.  However, Murphy said that timeline may be revisited if restrictions do not allow opening the schools at that time.

 

PRE-K AND KINDERGARTEN REGISTRATION TO BEGIN JUNE 1

The district will begin taking registrations for Pre-K and Kindergarten students on June 1.

Pre-K Registration (Phase 1) will be held from June 1-5, with determination letters for Phase 1 applicants being mailed June 15.  Applications to fill any available seats from Phase 1 will be accepted beginning June 22.  Pending the state’s guidelines, applications can be completed at the child’s home-based school campus or can be emailed directly to the school. Information regarding specific dates, times and procedures for each school will be posted on the LPPS Pre-K/Early Childhood webpage and on each school’s webpage after May 4.  Click here or call 225-686-4302 or 225-68684265 for more information.

Kindergarten Registration will begin June 1. Pending the state’s guidelines, parents may register their child for Kindergarten on the campus of their home-based school or by emailing the school directly.  Information regarding specific dates, times and procedures will be posted on the LPPS webpage after May 4.

 

Laura Foy, school librarian at Denham Springs Junior High School, was named the winner of the Louisiana Library Association’s 2020 James O. Modisette for middle schools. The award recognizes excellence in school library programs. The award were first established in 1944.

 

March 2020

PARENTS CAN SIGN UP FOR FOOD DELIVER TO THEIR DOORSTEP

Livingston Parish Public Schools is partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Baylor University to provide food and nutrition to our students during this time that schools are closed because of the COVID-19 outbreak.  The program is called Meals-to-You, and it allows for meals to be delivered to the doorsteps of students who qualify for the program.

To sign up, parents must fill out an online sign-up form and submit it as soon as possible.  The form can be accessed at https://mealstoyou.org/emergency-meals-to-you-application/.  The shelf-stable meals will be provided on a first-come, first-serve basis.

For more information, go to the www.lpsb.org website.  Information is also available in Spanish.

 

SCHOOL OFFICIALS DELIVER 6,000 PRE-PACKAGED MEAL TO STUDENTS

Livingston Parish School Supervisor of Child Nutrition Sommer Purvis drops a bag of pre-packaged meals into a box that went out to school volunteers for distribution across the parish. School employees and volunteers delivered 6,000 pre-packaged meals to needy families on March 25.

To provide food to the district’s students, food service officials recently procured pre-packaged food items that school employees and volunteers packaged into meals and distributed to families across the parish.

They packaged meal bags over a two-day period – each bag contained provisions for five lunches and two breakfasts.  A total of 6,000 meals were packaged.  Those bags were picked up by school personnel, who in turn distributed the bags to families in their school communities.

“This opportunity provided us with a safe, efficient way to get food to our people, so we felt confident in moving forward with this plan,” said Supervisor of Child Nutrition Sommer Purvis.

Superintendent Joe Murphy added, “We know this is a critical service for so many of our families.  That’s why our food service staff and central office leadership are working feverishly to find ways to feed our children.”

 

LIVINGSTON SCHOOLS UTILIZE BLENDED MODEL OF LEARNING DURING COVID-19 CLOSURE PERIOD

Livingston School officials went into quick action after Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a proclamation to close all public schools in the state from March 16 to April 13 to implement a blended model of remote learning for each school during this closure period.

Superintendent Joe Murphy said the blended model of learning includes digital instructional resources, as well as printed take-home resources, to ensure that all students receive a quality level of engaged learning.  He said each school implemented a plan of action that is best suited for its students and faculty.

Murphy praised teachers across the district for finding new and interesting ways to engage with their students and to communicate with them.

He noted that their efforts have been recognized by the statewide Dream Teachers organization, and that Livingston Parish will be featured in an upcoming video that highlights efforts of educators to make a difference in the lives of their students during the COVID-19 pandemic closure and “stay-at-home” time.  The video is expected to be released in April.

Superintendent Joe Murphy is interviewed by David St. Romain for the special Dream Teachers video.

Those interviewed for the Dream Teachers video included, from left, South Fork Elementary Teacher Eileen Jarman, Live Oak High School History Teacher Gary Mitchell, Denham Springs Junior High School Science Teacher Elliot Coats, and Livingston Parish Middle School Student of the Year Reese Kennedy, an 8th grader from Denham Springs Junior High.

 

SUPERINTENDENT CONFIDENT OF DISTRICT’S RESPONSE

“Our administration has responded swiftly to coordinate a comprehensive plan of action that protects the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff, and that delivers quality instruction and much-needed services to our students during this proclamation period.

I am confident that the determination and resolve of the people of Livingston Parish will enable us to successfully manage and overcome this challenge just as those qualities proved solid in the aftermath of the 2016 flood.  In many ways, our community is no stranger to “unchartered” situations – we know we have the mettle to stand strong in difficult times!

As we work together, supporting one another, we will overcome whatever circumstances confront us. Livingston Parish has a strong track record of turning challenges into opportunities. Now, more than ever, let’s be Livingston M.A.D.E. — Making A Difference EveryDay!”

– Superintendent Joe Murphy

February 2020

CECIL HARRIS APPOINTED TO SCHOOL BOARD

Cecil Harris, District 5 School Board Member

The Livingston Parish School Board recently appointed Denham Springs resident Cecil Harris to serve as the District 5 member, filling the vacancy left by former member Buddy Mincey, Jr., who resigned earlier this year to take on his newly elected position of State Representative.

Harris, who is a graduate and Athletic Hall of Fame member of Denham Springs High School, holds a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in educational administration and supervision from Southeastern Louisiana University. He also has a minor in special education. Harris taught and coached for three years in Livingston Parish before taking a supervisor position with the Louisiana Department of Education in the Health and Physical Education division. He later moved to the private sector, working as regional vice president for an educational publishing company for several years before opening his own company, Pinnacle Education.

Harris will hold the appointed seat until voters can elect a new board member this fall. Harris said he plans to run for the elected position at that time.

 

DISTRICT TO HOST 2020 STEAM EXPO

Livingston Parish Public Schools will host a free 2020 STEAM Expo on Saturday, March 7 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Denham Springs High School STEM and Robotics Center at 1129 South Range Avenue to give students of all ages, parents and community leaders on opportunity to experience and access educational programs in science, technology engineering, art and math.

The expo will provide engaging displays and activities aimed at increasing awareness and interest in STEAM education and career opportunities, such as robotics, 3D printing, photography and video, and performing arts.  The STEAM Express will be on site, as well as an ambulance simulator, which is used in instruction at the Literacy and Technology Center to prepare students pursuing certification as a first responder.

Demonstrations will rotate on a 30-minute cycle and tours of the center will be provided throughout the day. For more information, send an email to the STEAM Expo coordinator.

TALENTED ARTS STUDENTS PRESENT DISNEY PRODUCTIONS

Students from across the parish who are enrolled in the Livingston Parish Talented Arts Program will present two Disney productions at the Suma Hall Conference Center, located at the Satsuma Exit (Exit 19) of Interstate 12, over the next three weeks.

They will perform Disney’s “The Little Mermaid, Jr.” on two nights — Feb. 20-21, with the performances beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 for students and adults, and they can be purchased at the door.

Students will also present three performances of Disney’s “Frozen, Jr.” March 5-7.  Evening performances will be held March 5 and 6, beginning at 7 p.m. each night, and a special 11 a.m. brunch performance will be held March 7.  The cost of general admission for the evening performances is $10, while the cost of admission to the March 7 brunch performance is $15.  Click here to purchase tickets.

 

CAR SHOW COMING TO THE LITERACY & TECHNOLOGY CENTER

The Livingston Parish Literacy & Technology Center will host its 6th Annual Car Show Fundraiser on Saturday, March 21, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  The event, which will be held at 9261 Florida Boulevard in Walker, will include a bounce house, green screen photobooth, 50/50 raffle, music, door prizes, and jambalaya lunch plates.  Registration for car entries is $20 and will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

 

 

DISTRICT ADMINISTRATORS SCHEDULE DAY TO RETURN TO THE CLASSROOM

Superintendent Joe Murphy presents district administrators with his vision for school leaders to return to teaching for one hour in March as a “hands-on” way to be more engaged in the day-to-day activities across the district.

Ask any educator why they do their job, and they will tell you it’s for the thrill of helping children learn.  District administrators will have an opportunity to “return to their first love,” by going back into the classroom for a day, thanks to a special effort implemented by Superintendent Joe Murphy.

Murphy recently asked all district administrative personnel who hold teaching certificates to sign up to teach a class next month, either on March 6 or March 13.

“It’s always good to remind ourselves why we do what we do; and stepping back in the classroom is one powerful way to do that,” Murphy said.  “It’s a chance to return to our first love, reacquaint ourselves with our students, and see first-hand what our teachers are facing each day.  It’s my hope this exercise will create greater engagement for our leadership and stir excitement on our campuses.”

 

January 2020

BOARD ELECTS GRAHAM AS PRESIDENT, BENTON AS VICE PRESIDENT

The Livingston Parish School Board elected new leaders at its Jan. 9 meeting.  David “Bo” Graham of Walker was named the new president, and Jan Benton of Denham Springs was voted vice president. The two were unanimously elected to their positions.

Graham replaces outgoing School Board President Buddy Mincey, Jr., who resigned his seat to move into his newly elected position of State Representative for District 71.  Mincey was sworn in as State Representative on Jan. 13, prior to the governor’s inauguration ceremonies that same day.

The board is expected to take nominations to fill Mincey’s seat at its Jan. 23 meeting until a special election can be held in November.

Outgoing Livingston Parish School Board President Buddy Mincey, Jr., right, hands the gavel to newly elected President David “Bo” Graham following the board’s vote on Jan. 9, 2020.  Mincey resigned his seat to move to his newly elected position of State Representative for District 71.

Livingston Parish School Board Vice President Jan Benton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED AUTHOR LEADS PROFESSIONAL LEARNING DAY

Speaker and author Thomas Murray, who is director of innovation for Future Ready Schools, a project of the Alliance for Excellent Education in Washington, D.C., spoke to parish educators on Jan. 7 as part of a full day of professional learning presentations, walk-throughs and workshops across the parish.

Murray presided over two sessions at the Walker High School gym for approximately 1,100 certified schoolteachers at each session. He presented information from his new book, “Personal & Authentic: Designing Learning Experiences that Impact a Lifetime,” which was released in October 2019.

Parish schools also showcased their campuses with “gallery walk” presentations and several schools hosted EdCamps, which were smaller education workshops.

“We wanted to pause just a moment during this ‘half-way’ point in our schoolyear, before returning to the classroom for the spring semester, to remind our employees why we do what we do,” Superintendent Joe Murphy said. “It’s about the kids, and we can’t ever lose that focus.  We wanted to remind our employees in a powerful and meaningful way that it’s our job to foster personal and authentic learning experiences for all our students – every day.”

Thomas Murray presented two sessions to Livingston Parish educators and staff on how to design learning experiences that are personal and authentic.

Gray’s Creek Elementary Para-professional Julianne Sadler and Assistant Principal Michelle Denton showcase robotic projects they do with their students as part of their STEM curriculum. The school’s kiosk was one of many in the “gallery walk” at the district’s professional learning day.

FRESHWATER ELEMENTARY IS STATE’S MOST IMPROVED SCHOOL

Freshwater Elementary has been named the most improved school in the state and among the top 2 percent of all elementary and middle schools across Louisiana, according to the most recent accountability report by the Louisiana Department of Education.

According to the state report, only nine schools in Louisiana improved by 10 percentage points or more.  Freshwater Elementary was the most improved – increasing its overall mastery rate from 43 percent to 60 percent – a 17 percent jump.  Out of 1,267 elementary and middle schools (non-magnets) statewide, Freshwater came in at number 27. Freshwater Elementary’s overall School Performance Score also grew from 83.5 in 2018 to 95.7 in 2019 – a 12.2-point improvement.  One of the most impressive score indicators was the school’s progress index, which measures the number of individual students who meet their growth target level – that number grew from 100.7 points in 2018 to 115 points in 2019, reflecting a 14.3 jump that easily earned Freshwater Elementary an “A” status rating as a Top Gains Honoree.

“When they started announcing the numbers, I couldn’t believe it.  I knew our students and teachers had given their best, but the numbers were amazing,” Principal Julie Dugas said.  “Our school was at the top in our district and among the state’s very best.  Most of our teachers recorded the top scores overall in their grade and subject areas.”

Dugas noted that some teachers grew their individual sections by double digits and a few by more than 20 points.

Freshwater Elementary third-grade teacher Sarah Hodges, left, reviews the completed projects of her students Preslee Zimmerle and Jimmy Burton, as Principal Julie Dugas asks them questions about their work.

 

DETERMINED STUDENT, DEDICATED PARENT HONORED BY COUNCIL FOR EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN

School officials honored this year’s winners of the Council for Exceptional Children’s 2019 Parent Advocate Award, Tessa Walters, and 2019 “Yes I Can” Award of Self-Advocacy, Camilla Rios.  Walters is a paraprofessional at Seventh Ward Elementary, where 9-year-old Rios attends school.  Pictured, left to right, are: (back row) Freshwater Elementary Principal Julie Dugas, Seventh Ward Elementary Principal Laura Dunlap, Livingston Parish Special Education Department Director Eric Penalber, Livingston Parish Superintendent Joe Murphy, Seventh Ward Elementary SRO Burley McCarter, Seventh Ward Elementary Assistant Principal Bridget Castille, Freshwater Elementary Assistant Principal Amy Cheney, (front row) Walters, Rios and Freshwater Elementary Adapted Physical Education Teacher Sarah Lambert.

Seventh Ward Elementary Student Camilla “Cami” Rios and Paraprofessional Tessa Walters have both received awards from the Council for Exception Children for their outstanding efforts.

Rios is a recipient of the Council for Exceptional Children’s 2019 “Yes I Can” award in the self-advocacy category, which honors children with exceptionalities who have demonstrated determination and achievement.  Rios suffered from a severe meningitis infection at the age of 2, causing her to have both legs amputated above the knees, her left arm amputated below the elbow, and damage to her right upper extremity, including a deviation in her hand and damage to her fingers that has severely limited her range of motion.  Despite her physical limitations, she is one of her school’s most independent – and most popular – students.

Walters is a winner of the same organization’s 2019 Parent Advocate Award, which recognizes parents who promote and provide for the education and enhancement of individuals with exceptionalities in order to promote and support their full participation in the community. Walters also serves as a spokesperson for disabled children and their families, advocating for greater services and more funding.  She has spoken to the Louisiana House Appropriation Committee, advocating for funding of a Pediatric Day Health Center in the Baton Rouge area, and she has been the subject of numerous news articles.  Walters works with her daughter, Piper, and with Cami Rios, at Seventh Ward Elementary.

December 2019

DISTRICT REPORTS SIGNIFICANT IMPROVEMENTS IN STRENGTH OF DIPLOMAS AND GRADUATION RATES

The Louisiana Department of Education’s most recent accountability report showed Livingston Parish continues to improve its cohort graduation rate, which measures the number of students who graduate on time, and its strength of diploma measurement, which accounts for credentials added to the diplomas awarded to students.

Livingston Parish’s graduation rate is currently 87.4 percent – the highest ever for the district.  The number of students who successfully matriculate through high school in four years has improved nearly 11 points from 76.2 percent in 2013.

At the same time, the district’s strength of diploma score jumped to 108.5 points, up from 90.5 points in 2013.  The latest score represents an 18-point improvement is just six years.  Students can strengthen their diplomas by attaining college credit and career certifications that advance their post-secondary education, training and employment desirability, allowing them to enter the workforce or advanced education fields more rapidly and at higher skill levels.

“We continue to identify ways to make our high schools more relevant and responsive to the expectations of today’s workforce as it relates to preparation at higher education institutions, advanced technical and industrial schools, and on-the-job entry positions,” Assistant Superintendent Jody Purvis said.

 

 

ROBINSON BROTHERS FORD DONATES CAR TO AUTOMOTIVE PROGRAM

Robinson Brothers Ford presented the Livingston Parish Literacy & Technology Center with a 2014 Ford Focus in recognition for being one of the Top 5 programs in the nation to utilize the Ford Learning Management System.  Pictured with the car, and some of the parish’s automotive program students, from left to right, are Ford Motor Company Field Service Engineer Paul Evans, Robinson Brothers Ford Service Director Bill Reitenour, AST Instructor Mike Deville, Assistant Superintendent Stephen Parrill, and LPLTC Director Kim Albin.

Robinson Brothers Ford donated a 2014 Ford Focus to the Livingston Parish Literacy and Technology Center (LPLTC) to further enhance the center’s Automotive Service Technician program, after the program was recognized as one of the best in the nation.

The car is valued at approximately $7,500, and it will give added hands-on practice to the program’s students to prepare them for the Automotive Career Exploration exam that can earn them an entry-level position in the automotive service industry.

LPLTC Director Kim Albin said the center’s Automotive Service Technician program received the donation from Robinson Brothers because Livingston Parish high school students have performed among the nation’s best on the Ford Learning Management System training modules.  Ford Motor Company ranked the Livingston Parish program among the nation’s Top 5 school programs.

 

LIVINGSTON SCHOOLS OFFERING NIGHT CLASSES DURING SPRING SEMESTER

Livingston Parish Public Schools is offering an array of Career & Technical Education night classes to high school students during the spring semester.  The courses are open to juniors and seniors, and they include scaffolding, NCCER Carpentry I, NCCER Carpentry II, NCCER Electrical I, NCCER Welding II, Drones, Operation Spark I, and Baking & Pastry.

The courses allow students the opportunity to earn Carnegie credits and industry-based certifications, which can help them advance in their careers or educational options.  A $300 stipend will be paid to those students who attain certification in most courses, excluding the baking and pastry class.  Students enrolled in the baking and pastry culinary class can receive dual enrollment credit through the Northshore Technical Community College.  Students completing the scaffolding training course may be eligible for immediate employment with Apache Industrial Services.

For more information, contact Brandi Desselle at 225-686-7044 or brandi.desselle@lpsb.org.

 

FOUR SCHOOLS HONORED FOR HIGH PERFORMANCE IN EARLY EDUCATION

Four Livingston Parish elementary schools – Eastside Elementary, Freshwater Elementary, Northside Elementary, and Seventh Ward Elementary – have earned a spot on the state’s “Honor Roll” as a result of high performances during the 2018-2019 school year in their early childhood programs, according to a report released by the Louisiana Department of Education.

This is the second year in a row for the early childhood classes at Eastside Elementary and Northside Elementary to receive this honor.  According to the released scores, Northside Elementary earned the third-highest score in the state among all Pre-K sites evaluated.

These schools were recognized in the “Excellence” category, which is the state’s highest possible rating on the school’s annual performance evaluation.  Only 113 schools statewide earned this top rating, according to the state report.

Representing Seventh Ward Elementary, left to right, are paraprofessional Mandi Brown, teacher Tammi Fielding, and paraprofessional Samantha Soileau.

Representing Eastside Elementary, left to right, are paraprofessional Donna Foster, teacher Dana Baier, and paraprofessional Angela Brand

 

Representing Freshwater Elementary, left to right, are paraprofessional Monica Nelson, teacher Meghan Yerby, and paraprofessional Jennifer Stanley.

Representing Northside Elementary, left to right, are teachers Kellie Bridgers and Elizabeth Jordan.

November 2019

LIVINGSTON PARISH SCHOOLS GAIN ACROSS THE BOARD

Thirty of Livingston Parish’s 43 schools that received performance grades in the Louisiana Department of Education’s 2019 report showed academic improvement as compared to last year.

In particular, the district improved its number of “A” schools by three, up from 10 to 13, while the district’s overall performance score improved 2.2 points, growing from 86.3 points to 88.5 points.

The parish had 28 schools earning Top Gains, which is a designation for academic progress at an “A” level, and 11 Equity Honorees, which recognizes schools in the top 10 percent of schools in Louisiana among targeted subgroups, such as special needs students, English learners and economically disadvantaged students.

Other significant gains were reported in the following indices:  K-8 assessment index, up 2.9 points; K-8 progress index, up 4.5 points; high school progress index, up 0.4 points; ACT index, up 1.2 points;  Strength of Diploma, up 3.8 points; and Graduation Cohort Index, up 0.9 points.

 

HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS ENCOURAGED TO CONSIDER AUTOMOTIVE CAREER OPPORTUNITIES

Nearly 20 female high school students from across Livingston Parish recently participated in an automotive industry learning session.  The girls were presented with an assortment of pink accessories for the occasion, including reflective vests, headbands and protective eye wear. The district hopes the session and additional promotions will generate enough student interest to offer a “girls-only” automotive class in the summer or next school year.

Female student ambassadors and high school counselors from each of the nine high schools in Livingston Parish were recently invited to attend an information session at the parish’s automotive learning center to learn how the automotive industry may offer them promising employment opportunities after graduation.

The girls and counselors heard from local professionals and academic leaders who shared their desire to enroll and hire more women in automotive certification programs.  Those speakers included the automotive program directors from Baton Rouge Community College and Northshore Technical Community College, representatives from O’Reilly’s Auto Parts and Neighbor’s Credit Union in Walker, and Eric Lane, CEO of Gerry Lane Enterprises in Baton Rouge.

“Our goal is to better educate and create greater awareness of career opportunities that women have in those career fields that are now male-dominated.  There is now a high demand for women in many of these fields; but for many girls, these opportunities are not even on their radars,” Career Technical Education Coordinator Staci Polozola said.

 

RIBBON CUTTING HELD FOR NEW SPECIAL NEEDS FACILITY IN WALKER

Those participating in the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Ferrington Place included: (left to right) LPPS Transition Coordinator April Morgan; LPPS Special Education Department Director Eric Penalber; City of Walker Mayor Jimmy Watson; family member Gail Fitzpatrick; LPPS Assistant Superintendent Jody Purvis; family members Cindy Sibley, Chuck Smith, Ed Ferrington, Dottie Marler, and Betty Ferrington; LPPS Assistant Superintendent Stephen Parrill; family members Kaytlin Taylor and Tracy Cunningham; Walker Councilman Tracy Girlinghouse; family member Tommy Williams; Walker Freshman High School Principal David Clark; and Walker High School Principal Jason St. Pierre.

Students with special needs who attend school in the Walker School District can now utilize a life skills facility in their home community that is designed to teach them how to perform day-to-day activities in a home setting.

The City of Walker, Livingston Parish school leaders and members of the Ferrington Family of Walker held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov. 7 for the new Ferrington Place, which is located at 10266 Florida Boulevard, just east of Walker.

The newly renovated home is equipped with a kitchen, bathroom, living room, bedroom and laundry room, enabling instructors to teach students how to perform daily activities in each of these settings in hopes of enabling them to live a safe, more independent lifestyle in their own private homes or in a group home setting.  A large den located in the rear of the house is equipped with tables and chairs to accommodate larger gatherings.

“Ferrington Place is a tremendous resource for the special needs residents in the Walker community.  Not only does this facility lessen the hassle of traveling outside of the area to access a life skills facility, it also creates opportunities for more programs and more activities for the local special needs community,” said Eric Penalber, Ph.D., director of Livingston Parish Public Schools Special Education Department.

 

PUBLIC RELATIONS CONSULTANT WINS TOP AWARDS

Superintendent Joe Murphy and Delia A. Taylor, APR, show the two awards that Taylor recently received from the Southern Public Relations Federation.

Delia A. Taylor, APR, recently received two top awards from the Southern Public Relations Federation’s Lantern Awards program for her work for the Livingston Parish School System.  The SPRF Lantern Awards program recognizes outstanding work in the field of public relations in the four-state region of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

Taylor earned the Lantern Award in Media Relations for her management of the story of a fiery bus accident in September 2018 and the teacher-firefighter who responded to the incident.  She also earned an Award of Excellence in Media Relations for the promotion of the “Stronger Than Ever” campaign kickoff, which was marked by the staged demolition event at Denham Springs Elementary, held in August 2018.

Taylor is only one of four PR practitioners from Louisiana to earn a top Lantern Award in this year’s competition.

 

STUDENTS PLEDGE TO BE SOCIAL MEDIA AMBASSADORS FOR LOPA

Thirty-seven students enrolled in classes at the Livingston Parish Literacy & Technology Center have pledged to serve as social media ambassadors this school year for the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency (LOPA).  LOPA is a nonprofit organ and tissue recovery agency responsible for servicing the state of Louisiana.

As ambassadors, the students will post on their personal social media channels facts about organ, tissue and eye donations, relevant news stories, and stories from those impacted by donations and LOPA-related activities across the state.  LOPA has also partnered with iHeartMedia and public relations students in the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication to increase awareness about services.

 

October 2019

CONSTRUCTION OF NEW DENHAM SPRINGS ELEMENTARY TO GET UNDERWAY SOON

Construction activity at the site of Denham Springs Elementary will soon get underway, now that a contractor has been selected and a formal “kick off” will be held Oct. 24.

The Livingston Parish School Board recently approved Blount General Contractors to be the contractor of the new Denham Springs Elementary School.  The estimated cost of building the new school and making repairs to the multi-purpose building that remains on the campus is $16 million. School officials will hold a ground breaking ceremony for the new school at 3 p.m. Oct. 24 at the original campus site.

GRANTS AWARDED TO LOCAL TEACHERS

Five Livingston Parish teachers have been selected to receive a Deborah Rochelle Teacher Grant to support school-site projects that provide direct service to students.

D’anna Macaluso of Juban Parc Elementary received $4,994 for her project, “Prevent a Gap with the Lap.” Carrie Young from Juban Parc Elementary earned $5,000 for her proposal, “Developing 21st Century Skills.” Leah Davis from Southside Elementary received $4,843 for her project, “Using Technology for Academic Success.” Rebekah O’Neal from North Corbin Junior High received $5,000 for “Blending Learning in the Classroom.”  Michelle Crochet from Live Oak Junior High earned $5,000 for the project, “Design. Build. Experiment. Repeat.”

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WALKER HIGH SCHOOL OPENS PAINT AND BODY SHOP

WHS Paint and Body Shop Ribbon-Cutting – Livingston Parish School officials and Gerry Lane Enterprises President Eric Lane recently cut the ceremonial ribbon to officially open Walker High School’s Paint and Body Shop.  The shop will give students hands-on training in automotive painting and repairs, which will qualify them to earn certification in the industry.  Pictured from left to right: Gerry Lane Enterprises President Eric Lane; Walker School Board Member Bo Graham; Career Technical Education Coordinator Staci Polozola; Walker High School Principal Jason St. Pierre; and Walker High School CTE Teacher Chris Ledoux.

Students at Walker High School who are interested in a career in automotive repair and maintenance can now get hands-on experience and earn certification thanks to a new 1,200-square-foot paint and body shop that’s been constructed on the campus.

The new facility houses two bays, one for holding the painting booth and the other for body work lessons.  Gerry Lane Enterprises donated the facility, while PPG Paints has given much of the paint needed for the work.

“This is a collaborative effort of educators and industry professionals working together to give our students greater opportunities in a career field that offers good-paying jobs in the local area,” Walker High School Principal Jason St. Pierre said.

Students who complete the class will be eligible to earn the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR) certification, which is the collision repair industry’s leading standard for measuring skill, training and professional excellence.   Gerry Lane Enterprises President Eric Lane said body shop workers can make up to $1,500 a week, and they have a “portable trade.”

 

RIBBON CUTTING CEREMONY HELD FOR STEM & ROBOTICS CENTER

Livingston Parish School System leaders recently held an official ribbon cutting for the Denham Springs High School STEM & Robotics Center.  The center already has nearly 300 students enrolled in classes.  Participating in the event were, pictured from left to right, (front row) Career Technical Education Coordinator Staci Polozola; Superintendent Joe Murphy, School Board Members Jan Benton and Buddy Mincey; Former School Board Member Karen Wax-Schmitt; Denham Springs Mayor Gerard Landry; (middle row) High School Supervisor Kelly Jones; School Board Member Bradley Harris; U.S. Congressman Garret Graves; Assistant Superintendent Jody Purvis; State Sen. Dale Erdey; (back row) Denham Springs High School Principal Wes Howard; School Board Member Bo Graham; Assistant Superintendent Stephen Parrill; State Rep. J. Rogers Pope and Denham Springs Freshman High Principal Ken Magee.