April 2024

PURVIS SELECTED TO BE NEW SUPERINTENDENT

The Livingston Parish School Board on Monday, April 15, selected Jody Purvis to serve as the next superintendent of schools.

Purvis replaces Joe Murphy who is retiring at the end of June. Purvis started April 22 as Murphy announced he would take leave through the end of his contract on June 30.

“I’ve had experience in all grade levels from elementary all the way to the high school levels. I think that I have seen a lot and I do have some insight here. Hopefully, I can use that insight and develop a plan to move forward with our school system,” Purvis said.

Purvis said during his interview that his enthusiasm and motivation to act “will forge a strong, united team of educators and community partners motivated to further excel the educational opportunities for our students.”

Purvis has been with Livingston Parish Public Schools since 1998, beginning as a teacher at Springfield High and Denham Springs Freshman High before advancing to assistant principal at Southside Junior High and Springfield Middle. He served as principal at Springfield High and French Settlement Elementary before being appointed as the supervisor of high school instruction for the district in 2012. Purvis was named assistant superintendent in 2019.

Purvis earned a bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University and a master’s degree in education from Southern University.

 

BOARD APPROVES RESTRUCTURING OF SALARY SCHEDULE

The Livingston Parish School Board recently approved a plan to adjust the district’s salary schedule to reflect recommendations made by a third-party consulting service.

LEAN Frog, a nationally recognized expert in providing operational and programmatic assessments of education organizations, recently conducted a Comprehensive Organizational Review and Compensation Review that provided recommendations on how the district could improve to be more in alignment with like-sized and top-performing school districts in the state.

The board agreed to adjust its pay schedule to represent more steps in pay increases and to better account for higher degree ranks among its employees.  Livingston Schools currently has 26 steps for its employees with only 18 pay increases built into those steps, whereas most peer pay schedules include 30 steps and provide for pay increases at all steps.

The new plan aligns and equalizes the district’s salary schedule in a 30-step structure, normalizes annual increases each year, standardizes values for advanced degree attainment and corrects indexing to accurately reflect salaries to establish a competitive range of salaries from starting pay to ending pay. The proposal also addresses those salaries that are more than 10% below their peers across all steps and degrees.

The changes, which will go into effect July 1, with the 2024-2025 fiscal year, reflect a $4.5 million increase in the district’s annual budget.

 

DISTRICT RECOGNIZES TOP PERFORMERS

School leaders with Livingston Parish Public Schools held a district-wide ceremony of celebration March 26 to honor those students, teachers, principals, and staff workers who have been recognized as top performers in their respective categories. At the same time, those schools receiving academic achievement awards from the Louisiana Department of Education were also recognized.

The top awards included the following:

Livingston Parish Students of the Year — Pictured from left to right are the 2024 Middle School Student of the Year Hudson Graham, Walker Junior High School; Superintendent Joe Murphy; 2024 Elementary School Student of the Year Kendall Vaughan, South Fork Elementary; Kendall is also the Louisiana District 6 finalist for Student of the Year; and 2024 High School Student of the Year Caszandra Dante, Walker High School.

Livingston Parish Teachers of the Year — Pictured from left to right are the 2024 Elementary Teacher of the Year Jessica Edwards, Southside Elementary; 2024 Middle School Teacher of the Year Amanda Brian, Denham Springs Junior High; Superintendent Joe Murphy; and 2024 High School Teacher of the Year Ann Harrison, Live Oak High School.

Livingston Parish New Teacher of the Year – Pictured are Superintendent Joe Murphy and 2024 New Teacher of the Year Winner Skyler Champlin, Springfield High School.

Livingston Parish Support Staff Worker of the Year – Pictured are Superintendent Joe Murphy and 2024 Support Staff Worker of the Year Ashley Guzzardo, North Corbin Junior High School.  Guzzardo is also a semifinalist for the Louisiana Staff Worker of the Year competition.

Livingston Parish Principals of the Year – Pictured left to right are the 2024 Middle School Principal of the Year David Clark, principal of Walker Junior High; 2024 Elementary School Principal of the Year Ginger Bishop, principal of Northside Elementary; Superintendent Joe Murphy; and 2024 High School Principal of the Year Beth Jones, principal of Live Oak High School. Jones is also a semifinalist for the Louisiana Principal of the Year competition.

 

 

 

March 2024

CONSULTANTS RELEASE FINDINGS OF COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW OF DISTRICT

A comprehensive analysis of Livingston Parish Public Schools (LPPS) financial organization and salary structures shows, “unlike several peer school systems, LPPS has sound fiscal stewardship practices and is ‘living within its means.’”

Consultants with LEAN Frog, a national recognized expert in providing operational and programmatic assessments of educational organizations, presented the findings of its six-month-long study to the Livingston Parish School Board’s Cost Savings Committee on March 7, and a public presentation of the report on March 28 at the LPPS Suma Development Center.

The entire report is available upon request from LPPS and will be available through an electronic link on the district webpage at www.lpsb.org. A video copy of the public presentation is also available online.

The report showed pay for LPPS teachers ranks at the lowest, or next to the lowest, at all steps and degree levels when compared to their peers, according to the findings. In fact, pay for most positions in the district lags that of their peers by between 8% at starting pay and 14% at ending pay, including district and campus administrators, according to the analysis.

At the same time, the study shows the district lacks the number of high-level administrators needed to sufficiently service its many campuses for professional development, mentoring and individual support, which is crucial to each school’s success.

The study sought to identify potential cost-saving measures and provide school leaders will a possible roadmap to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the district’s organizational and compensation structures.

 

SCHOOL BOARD BEGINS SEARCH FOR NEW SUPERINTENDENT

Superintendent Joe Murphy will retire at the end of his contract, which expires June 30, 2024.  Murphy is retiring with 32 years of service to Livingston Parish Schools.

The Livingston Parish School Board recently announced that it would begin its formal search for a new superintendent.

Superintendent Joe Murphy announced last fall that he would not be seeking a new contract upon the expiration of his current contract, which expires June 30, 2024.  Murphy has served as the system’s superintendent for the past five years and is retiring after 32 years of service.

Board President Steve Link said the district would begin the formal process of advertising in hopes of completing the process in the spring.

“This timeline will give our system time to transition between the administrations before the expiration of Mr. Murphy’s contract,” Board President Link said.

 

ALBANY SCHOOL BREAKS GROUND ON NEW CAFETERIA

Pictured from left to right are LPPS Business Manager Kim Stewart, Albany Fire Chief Joe Foster, Town of Albany Councilman John Thomas, Albany Lower Elementary Principal Robin Stewart, Albany Upper Elementary Principal Jo Jean Saucier, LPPS Supervisor of Child Nutrition Programs Sommer Purvis, Town of Albany Mayor Ilene Bates-McCarroll, Livingston Parish School Board President Steve Link, LPPS Assistant Superintendent Jody Purvis, LPPS Superintendent Joe Murphy, LPPS Maintenance Director Jerry Glascock, Architect Christ Bankston, Stuart Construction Director of Commercial Operations Blake Panepinto, Albany Police Chief Boyd Wild, and Stuart Construction Project Manager Jason Catlin.

School leaders held a ground breaking ceremony for a new cafeteria facility that will serve Albany Upper Elementary and Albany Lower Elementary students.

The dual cafeteria is designed to accommodate the two campuses independently, but it has an operable partition that will allow the space to be opened for large events, seating approximately 625 people.  The new addition will also include four new classrooms and dedicated restrooms for each school.

The two campuses currently operate a feeding schedule that runs from 10:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. because the existing cafeteria lacks space to consolidate the times.

“Just like a kitchen is at the heart of a home, the cafeteria is the heart of a campus,” Supervisor of Child Nutrition Programs Sommer Purvis said. “This new facility will serve as a hub of activity for our students and for the community at large.”

School Board President Steve Link said the new facility is scheduled to completed by the end of Summer 2025.

 

STUDENTS RECOGNIZED FOR PLANNING TO PURSUE EDUCATION CAREERS

Livingston Parish Teacher Katie Guidry presents student Jazlynn Miles with a pin, recognizing participation in the district’s pre-educator program, which aims to encourage and equip high school students with knowledge about the field of education and those educational paths that are available to them. Also pictured, to the right, are district administrators Traci McRae and Tammy Kuhn.

More than 30 students from five Livingston Parish high schools recently attended a Pre-Educator Gala to learn more about pursuing a career in education and to be honored for their early commitment to the field.

The event was hosted at the Denham Springs STEM Center by the district as part of its “Grow Your Own” initiative. The theme of the night was “Mission: LIFT,” which stands for “Lead & Inspire Future Teachers.

The student-focused program is an important part of Launch Livingston, the district’s platform for recruiting and certifying teachers. Students interested in pursuing education careers were provided with information on the education field, as well as the Educators Rising course, which will be taught at five of the parish’s high schools next school year.

Career & Technical Education Coordinator Brandi Desselle said 13 students from Denham Springs High School and Live Oak High School were awarded pins and commended for taking the Educators Rising classes for the past two years. Other students participate in a “signing,” where they committed to continue the mission of pursuing education as a career.

 

Stacy Robinson

Stacy Robinson, District 2

  • Appointed January 2024
  • Former teacher and assistant principal at Live Oak High School; retired in June 2022
  • Currently working part time in a family business
  • Graduate of Live Oak High School
  • Earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from LSU, alternative certification in education from Southeastern Louisiana University, and a master’s degree in education from Southeastern Louisiana University
  • Married to Bryan Robinson for 46 years
  • Mother to Meagan Stansbury, Denver Robinson, and Kaleb Robinson; Grandmother to Ainsley Stansbury, Andrew Stansbury (students at LOHS) and Eli Robinson (student at North Live Oak Elementary)
  • Life-long member of Live Oak Church

 

“I can do all thing through Christ which strengthens me,” Philippians 4:13.

 

February 2024

DISTRICT OFFERS FREE TELETHERAPY TO BENEFIT MENTAL HEALTH

The Livingston Parish School System is offering its high school students struggling with anxiety, depression, or any mental illness 12 weeks of free teletherapy through a program called Daybreak.

Federal Program Coordinator Charlene Lilly said Livingston Schools is the first school district in the state to offer free mental health support for students.

“There’s been some hurdles here for our kids that we’ve noticed and having some of our large high schools where we have 2,000 and four counselors, they’re inundated with mental health needs. So, this was kind of the solution to the perfect storm,” Lilly said.

Students can enroll by scanning a QR code or reaching out to their school counselors. Parental consent is required for Daybreak to connect students with a licensed counselor.

 

LOCAL SUPPORT WORKER NAMED STATE FINALIST

Ashley Guzzardo, State Finalist

North Corbin Junior High School (NCJH) Secretary Ashley Guzzardo is one of 10 school support workers who has been named a finalist for the state’s 2024 Outstanding School Support Employee Award.

The 10 finalists represent schools across the state in a wide range of professions.  Employees eligible for the annual honor serve students and families in roles such as teacher’s aide, bus driver, food service worker, clerical/secretarial worker, and custodian.

Guzzardo has worked as the NCJH school secretary for the past 12 years, where her duties include recording and monitoring student attendance, assisting with the needs and requests of students, parents, and campus visitors, assisting with student registrations, managing general office tasks, and serving as the Mighty Moms community food bank ambassador for her school.

 

SPRINGFIELD HIGH SCHOOL CELEBRATES NEW ADDITION

School officials recently held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Springfield High School cafeteria and classroom addition. Those pictured, from left to right, are (front row) Former State Legislator Clay Schexnayder, School Administrator Spencer Harris, Assistant Superintendent Jody Purvis, Town of Springfield Mayor Tommy Abels, SHS Principal Jillian Dupuy, (back row) Maintenance Supervisor Jerry Glascock, Former School Board Member Norman Picou, School Board Member Ron McMorris, Assistant Superintendent Bruce Chaffin, Former Assistant Superintendent Stephen Parrill, and Superintendent Joe Murphy.

Livingston Parish school leaders recently celebrated the completion of a new cafeteria and classroom addition at Springfield High School.

The new two-story facility features a cafeteria that holds more than 200 people and four classrooms equipped with the latest technology and well-lit, modern accommodations. Part of the building space is also dedicated to the school’s on-campus merchandise shop, the Dawg House. The store is managed by the school’s entrepreneurship students who manage all aspects of the retail store, including purchasing, marketing, and retail.

 

KINDERGARTEN REGISTRATION & PRE-K APPLICATION ASSISTANCE DAY SET FOR MARCH 15

Livingston Parish Public Schools will hold a district-wide Kindergarten Registration and Pre-K Application Assistance Day on March 15 for parents wishing to enroll their children in kindergarten or pre-kindergarten classes for the 2023-2024 school year.

Currently enrolled kindergarten and Pre-K students will NOT attend school that day.

Parents should access electronic registration forms in advance of March 15.  Parents of kindergarten-aged students should visit lpsb.org to complete the PowerSchool online registration form and upload required documents. The portal opens March 1.

Parents of pre-K-aged children should visit applytolppsearlychildhood.com to access the application form and upload required documents.

The documents required for both age groups include a certified birth certificate, Social Security card, immunization records, parent/guardian ID, and proof of residency (utility bills). Pre-K applicants must also provide proof of income for every adult in the household.

A child must have turned 5 years old on or before Sept. 30, 2024, to be eligible to register for kindergarten. A child must have turned 4 years old on or before Sept. 30, 2024, to be eligible for Pre-K. Final eligibility for Pre-K enrollment is based on the child’s age and gross household income.

 

 

 

Jeff Cox, District 6

  • Elected in Oct 2002 and took office January 2003; has served more than 21 years
  • Served as School Board Vice President, 2022-2023
  • Graduate of Walker High School (Class of ’78)
  • Owner of John’s Grocery & Hardware, which has been a family-owned business since 1972
  • Certified in HVAC
  • Married to Bonnie Hano Cox for 39 years
  • Father to five children and four grandchildren. His children are Savannah Cox Lewis (Troy), who teaches at Live Oak High School; Derek Cox; Zachary Cox, who teaches at Walker High School; Brice Cox and Jace Cox, who is a freshman at Holden High School.
  • The Cox Family attends First Pentecostal Church of Denham Springs

“Our job should always be about our children. If every vote we make is for the betterment for our students and our parish as a whole, then we will never go wrong. We can never lose sight of that.”

 

January 2024

BOARD ELECTS NEW LEADERSHIP, FILLS DISTRICT 2 VACANCY

The Livingston Parish School Board, at its Jan. 11 meeting, elected a new board president and vice president and appointed an interim board member to the district 2 board seat.

The board unanimously elected District 9 Board Member Steve Link of Albany as its president. Link is serving in his first term as a school board member.  He is a former teacher, assistant principal, and principal in the district.  Link holds a bachelor’s degree from Southeastern Louisiana University (SLU) in Hammond, a master’s degree from Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Miss., and a 30+ Education Certification from SLU.

The board also unanimously elected District 3 Board Member Jeff Frizell of Denham Springs as its Vice President. Frizell is in his first term as a board member. He is a former teacher, coach, school administrator and central office supervisor in the district. Frizell currently works as administrator of the Bond-Wroten Eye Clinic, which has offices in Denham Springs, Hammond, and Amite. He holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond.

Stacy Robinson, a former assistant principal at Live Oak High School, will serve as the board member for District 2, which represents the Live Oak School District.  Robinson fills the seat that was vacated by Kellee Hennessy Dickerson, who was elected State Representative for District 64 in the November 2023 general election. Robinson will occupy the seat until an election can be held to fill the seat. Gov. Jeff Landry is expected to call that election for November 5, 2024.

 

DISTRICT NAMES STUDENT OF THE YEAR WINNERS

Livingston Parish Public Schools has announced those top student winners for the 2023-2024 school year.

The Elementary Student of the Year is Kendall Marie Vaughan, a fifth grader at South Fork Elementary; the Middle School Student of the Year is Hudson Graham, an eighth grader at Walker Junior High School; and the High School Student of the Year is Caszandra Joy Dante, a senior at Walker High School.

The winners were nominated by their schools, and they competed against other Students of the Year from throughout the district.  As representatives for Livingston Parish Public Schools, they will compete at the state’s regional competition for the opportunity to become a finalist for the Louisiana Department of Education’s top award.

These students will be formally recognized at the district’s celebration of excellence gala in the spring.

 

TOP EMPLOYEES OF THE YEAR ANNOUNCED

Livingston Parish Public Schools has announced the winners of the district’s Teacher of the Year, Principal of the Year and Staff Worker of the Year awards for the 2023-2024 school year.

The Principal of the Year winners are Elementary Principal of the Year Ginger Bishop, Northside Elementary School; Middle School Principal of the Year David Clark, Walker Junior High; and High School Principal of the Year Beth Jones, Live Oak High School.

North Corbin Junior High Secretary Ashely Guzzardo has been named the district’s 2023-2024 Support Worker of the Year.

Those Teacher of the Year winners are Elementary Teacher of the Year Jessica Edwards, Southside Elementary; Middle School Teacher of the Year Amanda Brian, Denham Springs Junior High; High School Teacher of the Year Anna Harrison, Live Oak High School; and New Teacher of the Year Skyler Champlin, Springfield High School.

 

The top winners for Livingston Parish Public Schools were selected from a long list of nominees submitted by each school in the district. They will advance to the state’s regional competition in their respective categories to vie for the opportunity to become a finalist for the Louisiana Department of Education’s top award.

The winners were given engraved awards, adorned with a decorative glass apple, as well as banners to display in their schools. They will be officially recognized at a district-wide celebration in the spring.

Cecil Harris, District 5

  • Appointed to interim position in January 2020, elected twice without opposition (2020 special election, 2023 primary election);
  • Served as LPPS Board President, 2022-2023;
  • Former owner and manager of Pinnacle Education, an education publishing company; previously worked for several educational textbook and computer companies;
  • Graduate of Denham Springs High School and DSHS Athletic Hall of Fame Inductee. He is the only three-sport first-team All-State athlete in the school’s history (basketball, baseball, and track);
  • Holds a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in educational administration and supervision from Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, La.;
  • Four-year starter for the SLU Varsity Basketball Team;
  • He taught and coached in LPPS District for three years before moving to a supervisor role with the Louisiana Department of Education’s Health and Physical Education division;
  • Married to Margaret Devall Harris for 51 years;
  • Father to three sons, Jeffrey, Jeromy, and Matthew, and eight grandchildren;
  • The Harris Family are members of Hebron Baptist Church in Denham Springs.

“It continues to be my goal to provide the best resources possible to educate our children. That is the bottom line of this job.”

 

 

December 2023

NATIONAL FIRM PERFORMING COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW OF DISTRICT’S ORGANIZATIONAL AND SALARY STRUCTURE

Livingston Parish Public Schools has contracted with LEAN Frog Business Solution, Inc., to perform an independent review of the district’s organizational structure and current salary schedule to gain greater direction in enhancing the district’s effectiveness, sustainability, and success at all levels.

The firm is expected to present a report on its assessments early next year.

LEAN Frog is a nationally recognized expert in providing operational and programmatic assessments of educational organizations. The firm’s professional team has collaborated with nearly 160 school districts across the Southeast United States, as well as state departments of education in Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Mississippi.

“This is a very tedious, painstaking task they are undertaking,” Superintendent Joe Murphy said. “The hired professionals are reviewing our system structure, they have interviewed our administrators and campus leaders for greater insight, and they are providing us with comparisons to our peer school systems.”

Murphy said the contract calls for LEAN Frog to review the district’s Central Office functions, analyze the district’s current salary schedules for positions, identify cost saving measures through improvements in organizational and operational efficacy, and provide a roadmap to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the district organizational and compensation structure.

 

SPRINGFIELD HIGH SCHOOL HOSTS AVID SHOWCASE

Springfield High School Principal Jillian Dupuy, standing far right, presents the successes of her school’s experience with the AVID program during a showcase sponsored by AVID in November.  Attending the presentation were school administrators and teachers from New Orleans charter schools and the Livingston, East Baton Rouge, and Jackson parish school systems.

School administrators and teachers from New Orleans charter schools and the Livingston, East Baton Rouge, and Jackson parish school systems visited Springfield High School in November to learn about its campus-wide AVID learning initiative.

AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, and it is an in-school academic support program designed to instill those skills necessary for eligibility and success in higher education. The AVID Showcase at Springfield High School (SHS) is the first sponsored by the AVID program in Louisiana.

“This program is aimed at students who have the desire and willingness to work for academic success, but they may not have the skills they need to flourish scholastically. Many of the students who participate in AVID are from groups traditionally underrepresented in higher education or they will be the first in their families to attend college,” SHS Principal Jillian Dupuy said.

Dupuy said the program targets those B/C students who have 2.0-3.5 GPAs who exhibit a willingness to achieve. They may be low-income and come from families that do not have a college background.

SHS first implemented an AVID elective course last school year for freshman. Those students were required to take at least one Advanced Placement or Honors Course during the year as part of the program.

“Our AVID students collectively improved their GPAs to an average of 3.51 by the end of the fall semester, and then they jumped to a 3.76 GPA average by the end of their freshman year,” Dupuy said.

The program was expanded this year to include a tenth-grade elective course. The school plans to add an eleventh-grade AVID elective class next year and another for twelfth-grade students by the 2025-2026 school year.

 

JUBAN PARC ELEMENTARY CELEBRATES DESIGNATION AS NATIONAL BLUE RIBBON SCHOOL

Juban Parc Elementary fifth graders, pictured left to right, Tatum Burns, Emma Kruszynsky, Thomas Ewing and Ezra Bourg carry the school’s Blue Ribbon banner during the school parade as parents, school leaders and community guests lined along the hallway.

Parents and school leaders enjoyed a festive environment at Juban Parc Elementary School on Nov. 30 as the school celebrated its designation as a National Blue Ribbon School.

Students and staff paraded through the school’s hallways, carrying banners, shakers, and balloons, and marching to a loud rhythmic beat provided by the Denham Springs High School drum line.

“This is a great day for our school community. It’s an opportunity to celebrate much hard work and accomplishment for our school,” said Juban Parc Elementary Principal Lauren Kennedy.

The Louisiana Department of Education lists Juban Parc Elementary as an “A-rated” school with a 94.7 School Performance Score, according to the state’s 2023 accountability report. At the same time, the state has given the school a Progress Index score of 106, which recognizes the school’s success in closing the achievement among all its students.

A total of 313 schools were honored this year nationwide. Juban Parc Elementary is one of nine schools in Louisiana named as a 2023 National Blue Ribbon School.

Livingston Parish School leaders and administrators with Juban Parc Elementary School traveled to Washington D.C. earlier in November to attend a special National Blue Ribbon reception.

 

Jeff Frizell, District 3

  • Newly elected to office, began serving in January 2023
  • More than 20 years of experience in Livingston Parish Public Schools as a teacher, coach school administrator and central office supervisor
  • Currently the Practice Administrator for the Bond-Wroten Eye Cinic, which has offices in Denham Springs, Hammond, and Amite
  • Recipient of the 2015 Louisiana School of Executives Educational Leadership Award, the 2017 Livingston Parish Principal of the Year, and a 2017 Louisiana Principal of the Year semifinalist
  • A graduate of Denham Springs High School who earned a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and master’s degree in education leadership from Southeastern Louisiana University
  • Married to Amy Feucht Frizell, who teaches at Northside Elementary
  • Father to Mallory (20), a graduate of Denham Springs High School and student at Southeastern Louisiana University, and Ava (15) a student at Denham Springs Freshman High School
  • The Frizell Family attends Immaculate Conception Church in Denham Springs

“Never let the fear of striking out get in the your way.” -Babe Ruth

November 2023

LIVINGSTON PARISH SCHOOLS IMPROVES DISTRICT PERFORMANCE SCORE

Livingston Parish Public Schools improved its overall District Performance Score by nearly one point, inching the district closer to an A Rating, according to the Louisiana Department of Education’s latest accountability report.

The district score climbed from 88.5 points in 2022 to 89.4 points in 2023 – just 0.6 points shy of the state’s threshold for an A Rating.  That score continues to rank Livingston Parish Schools at No. 11 in the state, positioning it as the highest B-ranking district in the state.

“Our district continues to demonstrate a high level of achievement across the board. I want to congratulate our teachers and staff and our students on their hard work and commitment to grow and learn despite many challenges that still exist in our system,” Superintendent Joe Murphy said.

Livingston Schools saw the greatest gains in the 2022-2023 comparison among high school indicators with the strength of diploma score jumping up 5.5 points, from 116.7 to 122.2 points; its ACT index growing by 3.5 points, from 79.9 points to 83.4 points; and in its graduate rate index, improving by 3 points, from 100.5 to 103.5 points.

Half of all the district’s 44 campuses increased their School Performance Scores, while four schools went up a letter grade.  The district now boasts of 10 A-rated schools, 27 B-rated schools, and 7 C-rated schools.

 

 

LOCAL SCHOOLS EARN “A” RATINGS, RECOGNITION FOR STUDENT PROGRESS

According to the Louisiana Department of Education’s latest accountability report, Livingston Parish has 10 schools that have earned an “A” rating. Those schools include Live Oak High School (116.3), Walker High School (101.3), French Settlement High School (100.5), Denham Springs High School (99.6), Springfield High School (98.3), North Live Oak Elementary School (95.0), Juban Parc Elementary (94.7), Holden High School (94.6), Freshwater Elementary (92.6), and Eastside Elementary (91.0).

Springfield Elementary and Walker High School showed the greatest growth, improving their School Performance Scores by 5.9 points and 5.7 points, respectively.

Twenty-four schools earned recognition as Top Gains and/or Opportunity honorees – 21 schools received “Top Gains” honors; 11 received “Opportunity” honors; and 8 received both.  The “Top Gains” designation is awarded to schools from the Louisiana Department of Education that demonstrate excellence in student progress from one year to the next.  A school is designated as “Top Gains” if the progress index is 90 or higher and they are not in Urgent Intervention Required for any reason. The “Opportunity” honorees perform in the 90th percentile or above for students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students or English learners, and do not earn any Urgent Intervention Required labels for student groups and/or discipline.

 

 

CULINARY STUDENTS COMPETE IN COOK-OFF

Pictured are members of the Denham Springs High School culinary team who won first place in the LPPS Culinary Cook-Off competition for their Tex-Mex Chicken Macaroni & Cheese dish. Their winning dish will be featured on the Curbside Café menu next semester. The team also won a cutlery set and $500 to purchase supplies for the culinary classroom. Pictured from left to right are Judith Ayala, Kaitlyn Ibarra, Ja’miracle Rose, Aaron Ramsey, and DSHS ProStart Instructor Jamie Manotas.

Livingston Parish Schools recently hosted a Culinary Cook-off for five high school culinary teams who competed to have their dish featured as a menu item for the district’s mobile Curbside Café.

Those high schools competing were Albany High School, Denham Springs High School, French Settlement High School, Live Oak High School, and Springfield High School. The competition was held Nov. 7 at the district’s Professional Development Center in Satsuma and was sponsored by the district’s Child Nutrition Department. Tyson Foods donated the prizes for the winners and the chicken ingredients for some of the dishes.

The Denham Springs High School culinary team won the competition with its Tex-Mex Chicken Macaroni & Cheese dish. Albany High School earned second place for its Chicken Fajita Sliders. French Settlement High School received third place for its Chicken Quesadillas.

The winning dish will be included on the Curbside Café menu next semester. The winning culinary team also won a cutlery set and $500 to purchase kitchen utensils and supplies for the team’s classroom. The second-place team received a cutlery set and the third-place team won a plating utensil set.

 

DENHAM SPRINGS ELEMENTARY HOSTS STEM DAY

Denham Springs Elementary students Tucker Chalette and Easton Jarrell demonstrate their coding abilities using robotic Legos to LPPS Supervisor of Assessment and Accountability Kelly LaBauve during DSE STEM Day.

Students at Denham Springs Elementary recently enjoyed a day of hands-on activities and games in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math as part of the school’s effort to create greater awareness and learning of STEM concepts.

“Hands-on STEM programs and activities do more than teach science and mathematics concepts, they help our students discover applications and spark their creativity,” said Denham Springs Elementary Principal Bridget Castille.

She said the teachers on her campus include STEM concepts and learning activities in their daily lessons, but they felt a school day dedicated to the subject would be a fun way to help emphasize the importance of the subject matter.

Castille noted that STEM education looks different for elementary students than it does for college, high school, or even middle school students.

While elementary students might work on simple engineering design projects, the main goal is not to prepare them to become professional engineers, although more students may become interested in those careers as a result. Rather, an elementary STEM curriculum aims to help students develop basic skills that apply to many parts of life, not just technology and engineering careers.

“STEM projects provide unique opportunities for students to practice critical thinking, problem solving, and collaboration, among other skills,” she said. “STEM is intended to give students a solid foundation for future learning,” Castille said.

 

Dr. Ron McMorris, District 8

  • Newly elected to office, began serving in January 2023
  • Chairman of Athletic Staff and Medical Committee, member of Plant Site Committee, Cost Savings Initiative Committee
  • Owner of Elite Chiropractic Sports and Nutrition Clinics in Walker, Livingston and Albany
  • Licensed Chiropractor concentrating in brain injuries and sport medicine
  • Earned a Doctor of Chiropractic from the Texas Chiropractic College in Pasadena, Texas
  • Former member of Board of Regents for the Texas Chiropractic College and Chiropractic Association of Louisiana
  • Member of Colyell Baptist Church
  • Graduate of Doyle High School and Southeastern Louisiana University, kinesiology and athletic training
  • Married to Karen McMorris of Walker, Father to Jules McMorris, third grader in Livingston Parish Schools

 

 

“Go not where others have gone. Go ye instead and blaze your own trail.”

 

October 2023

ALBANY HIGH STUDENT RECEIVES NATIONAL RURAL AND SMALL-TOWN AWARD

Michael Kober is Albany High’s first student to earn the National Rural and Small-Town Award for his academic achievements.

Albany High School student Michael Kober has been awarded the National Rural and Small-Town Award by the College Board National Recognition Program.

Kober, a 16-year-old junior at Albany High School, became the school’s first recipient of the recognition program.  Recipients of the award must have taken and performed well on the PSAT/NMSQT, PSAT 10 or AP Exams.  Kober scored 1410 on the SAT and 35 on the ACT, both first-attempt scores.

Kober is the section leader for percussion in the Albany High School Band.  He enjoys composing music and playing drums and piano.  He also enjoys playing Dungeons and Dragons with friends, spending time with family and playing video games. Kober said he plans to attend college and pursue a career in medicine.

 

STATE SUPPLEMENTAL PAY AWARDED TO DISTRICT EMPLOYEES ON OCT. 12

Employees across the district received a one-time pay increase this month as a result of state legislative action taken during the 2023 Regular Session.

All certified, full-time employees received a $2,000 lump sum payment in a local supplemental paycheck on Oct. 12, while non-certified, full-time employees received a $1,000 payment on that day.

Superintendent Joe Murphy said the district plans to issue a local supplemental paycheck on May 3, 2024, which matches the state’s one-time gift — $2,000 for certified, full-time employees and $1,000 for non-certified, full-time employees.

 

SPRINGFIELD HIGH HOSTS GIRL-POWERED STEM WORKSHOP

Springfield High School’s Bulldog Bytes Team Member Nathan Gordon, front center, allows one of the guest students to drive his team’s robots during a demonstration on robotics for the Girl Powered Workshop.

“Calling All Girls!” That is the cry of industries across our state and nation that have a need to fill careers based in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics learning.

To help answer that call, Springfield High School recently hosted its first “Girl Powered Workshop” to inform young women and members of the community at-large about available STEM and robotics opportunities.

Currently women make up half the total college-educated workforce, but they fill only 30 percent of STEM jobs. For black and Latina women in STEM, that number reduces drastically, to only 2 percent.

“Education can play a significant role in helping to bridge gender equity gaps,” said LPPS Instructional Technology Facilitator and STEAM Express Director Jolie Gregoire. “The key to STEM learning is making it meaningful, putting it in context or real-world issues.”

SHS Teacher and Robotics Sponsor Yvette Hill, along with members of the Bulldog Bytes team, sponsored the event. Lanie Bauduoin of Gainey’s Concrete Products, a locally owned business, presented a short talk on understanding STEM career opportunities, and members of the Bulldog Bytes Robotics Team demonstrated their various robotics projects.

 

Bradley Harris, District 4

  • Currently serving his second term as an elected school board member
  • Industrial Sales and Services Representative for JM Test Systems, Inc., of Baton Rouge
  • Certified in industrial safety and security procedures
  • Earned Bachelor of Science Degree in industrial management technology and a Master of Business degree from SLU in Hammond
  • Graduate of Denham Springs High School; member of the DSHS Athletic Hall of Fame
  • Deacon and Teacher at First Baptist Church of Denham Springs
  • Married to Luwana O’Neal Harris for 35 years
  • Father to Zachary, graduate and former varsity football player of Brown University, and Alex, a junior in mechanical engineering at LSU.

“I have been honored to work on projects to move our school system forward; and I’m especially proud of the new school and athletic facilities we have been able to deliver to the Denham Springs community,” Harris said. “I remain committed to doing what’s right for our children, for our employees, and for our community overall.”  -Bradley Harris

 

 

September 2023

WALKER HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR NAMED NATIONAL MERIT SCHOLARSHIP SEMIFINALIST

Walker High School Senior Caszandra Joy T. Dantea named a National Merit Semifinalist.

Walker High School Senior Caszandra Joy T. Dantea has been named a National Merit semifinalist.

She is among 199 high school seniors in Louisiana who were selected for the honor.  Those state winners are among the 16,000 semifinalists named across the nation for the 2024 class.  The semifinalists are now eligible to compete for National Merit scholarships valued at nearly $28 million.  Those winners will be announced in the spring.

The 199 Louisiana semifinalists are the students who scored the highest in the state during the 2021 administration of the PSAT, a preliminary test to the well-known SAT college placement exam.

 

JUBAN PARC ELEMENTARY NAMED NATIONAL BLUE RIBBON SCHOOL

Juban Parc Elementary has been awarded the distinction of being a National Blue Ribbon School, one of the nation’s highest school honors.

Juban Parc Elementary is one of only nine Louisiana schools selected this year for the honor.  The others include St. Joseph’s Academy and St. Luke’s Episcopal in Baton Rouge, A.E. Phillips Lab School in Ruston, Archbishop Hannan High in Covington, Boley Elementary School in West Monroe, Broadmoor Elementary in Houma, Caddo Parish Middle Magnet School in Shreveport, and N.S.U. Elementary Lab School in Natchitoches.

“We are so thrilled and proud of our students and our incredible educators who have worked so hard to make a difference,” said Lauren Kennedy, principal of Juban Parc Elementary.

“This award recognizes our school for closing the achievement gap among all subgroups,” she said. “To help us do that, we have instituted community connection events that empower our students to connect with other students and with the community we live in. We are growing our students inside and outside the classroom.”

Public schools that earn Blue Ribbon awards are first nominated by their respective states; applications are submitted to the U.S. Department of Education for consideration. Private schools are recommended by the Council of American Private Education.

Public schools can earn their ribbons in two ways: if they are among the top-performing schools in their respective states, or if they have shown substantial progress in closing the achievement gap between all students and historically low-performing subsets of students, such as racial minorities and those living in poverty.

Some of the staff and students at Juban Parc Elementary celebrated “turning blue” to recognize their school becoming a National Blue Ribbon School. Others wore blue ribbons pinned to their shirts.

 

 

EIGHT PARISH HIGH SCHOOLS IN STATE’S TOP 100

The U.S. News & World Report ranking of the best high schools in Louisiana has listed eight of the parish’s nine high schools in the Top 100.

The 2023-2024 report ranks schools whose students demonstrate outstanding outcomes above expectations in math, reading and science state assessments, earn qualifying scores in an array of college-level exams, and graduate in high proportions.

The rankings for all Livingston Parish high schools are:

  • Holden High School – ranked #15, scoring a 35.9 college readiness ranking and an 88% graduation rate (180 enrollment in grades 9-12)
  • Live Oak High School – ranked #20, scoring a 35.2 college readiness ranking and a 95% graduation rate (1402 enrollment in grades 9-12)
  • Springfield High School – ranked #45, scoring a 20.7 college readiness ranking and a 90% graduation rate (398 enrolled in grades 9-12)
  • French Settlement High School – ranked #56, scoring a 31.2 college readiness ranking and a 93% graduation rate (293 enrolled in grades 9-12)
  • Denham Springs High School – ranked #66, scoring a 20.4 college readiness ranking and a 92% graduation rate (1617 enrollment in grades 10-12)
  • Maurepas High School – ranked #74, scoring a 20.7 college readiness ranking and an 84% graduation rate (108 enrolled in grades 9-12)
  • Walker High School – ranked #75, scoring a 17.5 college readiness ranking and an 89% graduation rate (1998 enrolled in grades 9-12)
  • Albany High School – ranked #86, scoring a 25.3 college readiness ranking and an 89% graduation rate (599 enrolled in grades 9-12)
  • Doyle High School – ranked #105, scoring an 18.3 college readiness ranking and an 87% graduation rate (382 enrolled in grades 9-12)

 

Stephen Link

Stephen Link, District 9

  • Inducted to the school board in January 2023
  • Serves on Budget & Goals and Transportation Committees, and Chairs Curriculum & Policy Committee
  • Resident of Albany
  • Former Teacher, Assistant Principal and Principal in LPPS
  • Earned Bachelor of Arts Degree from SLU in Hammond, Masters Degree from University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, and 30+ Education Certification from SLU in Hammond
  • Graduate of Hammond High School
  • Married to Michele Link, retired teacher/instructional coach at Albany Lower Elementary
  • Father to Sarah Link Williams and Logan Link, both graduates of Albany High School; grandfather of Balen Williams (5 years).

“I am working to increase parent participation in our Albany Schools. I will find creative ways to involve the community in our Albany Schools, and I will be the District 9 advocate for capital investments in our schools’ infrastructure.”

 

 

August 2023

ALBANY TEACHER NAMED LOUISIANA’S NEW TEACHER OF THE YEAR

Phoenix Morel LeBlanc, Louisiana New Teacher of the Year

Albany Middle School’s Phoenix Morel LeBlanc has been named the Louisiana New Teacher of the Year winner.

LeBlance was selected from a field of 9 first-year teachers from across the state. The award was presented during the 17th Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Awards Gala, which was held at the WWII Museum in New Orleans on July 22.  Albany Lower Elementary Teacher Payton O’Nellion was also a finalist in the competition.

“We are excited and proud of Ms. Phoenix for receiving this amazing accolade. Her professionalism, content mastery, work ethic and genuine concern for the academic, social, and behavioral growth and success of all students has made her a deserving recipient of this award,” Albany Middle School Principal John Hill said.

LeBlanc teaches 7th grade science at Albany Middle School. She is also the head cheerleading coach and sponsor of the Albany Middle School science club. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a concentration in Education from Southeastern Louisiana University.

As the state’s “New Teacher of the Year,” LeBlanc will serve on a state committee to help train new educators, as well as attend professional learning modules and affinity groups that provide guidance in classroom management, standards and curriculum, and other education challenges.

Pictured at the statewide LDOE Excellence Awards Gala in New Orleans in July, from left to right, are Livingston Parish School Superintendent Joe Murphy, Louisiana New Teacher of the Year Phoenix Morel LeBlanc, Livingston Parish School Board Member Steven Link, and New Teacher of the Year Finalist Payton O’Nellion.

 

 

LIVINGSTON PARISH SCHOOLS EARN TOP 10 RANKING

Livingston Parish Public Schools earned a Top 10 ranking statewide for the percentage of students in Grades 3-8 and high school who scored Mastery or Advanced on the LEAP 2025 Assessment, based on results from the 2022-2023 school year, which were released by the Louisiana Department of Education.

Overall, 41 percent of all students in Livingston Parish scored Mastery or Advanced on the assessment, which is the state’s standard tool for measuring proficiency in English/Language Arts (ELA), math, science and social studies for grades 3-12.  The district’s overall score far outpaces the state’s average of 33 percent of students scoring Mastery or Advanced.

The Louisiana Department of Education reports student scores on five levels: Unsatisfactory, Approaching Basic, Basic, Mastery, or Advanced. Students scoring Mastery and Advanced are considered proficient, or ready for the next grade level.

The 41 percent of students who scored Mastery or Advanced is the same overall score earned by the district on last year’s assessment. However, this year’s report shows nearly half of the district’s schools receiving scores, 19 of 42, grew 1 to 6 percentage points for students scoring Mastery or Advanced.

 

 

BREAKDOWN OF SCORES SHOWS DISTRICT OUTPACED THE STATE AVERAGE IN EVERY CATEGORY

Kelly LaBauve, supervisor of assessment and accountability, said a breakdown of Livingston Parish’s LEAP scores by subject area shows that 53% of Livingston Parish students scored Mastery or Advanced in ELA; 39% scored Mastery or Advanced in math; 37% scored at those levels in science; and 34% scored at the top two levels in social studies.

She said 20 of Livingston Parish’s schools grew their percentages of Mastery and Advanced scores 1 to 12 percent in ELA. Nineteen schools grew their percentage of Mastery and Advanced scores 1 to 9 percent in science; 18 grew their percentages in those top categories by 1 to 8 percent in social studies, and 17 schools grew their percentage of Mastery and Advanced scores by 1 to 11 percent in math.

LaBauve noted that while the percentages of Mastery and Advanced scores are lower overall in science and social studies, they rank high statewide, 9th and 10th place, respectively.

 

FREE MEALS CONTINUED FOR ALL STUDENTS

Livingston Parish School System leaders recently elected to continue the district’s participation in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) Program that allows all student meals to continue to be served for free for the 2023-2024 school year.

Director of School Food Services Sommer Purvis estimates the average cost per year for a student to eat breakfast and lunch is approximately $1,200 per student.

“The cost of food has become a growing hardship in our current economy. The CEP program allows us to take away some of that burden for our families during the school year,” Purvis said.

The CEP program is managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and it makes available free meal services without the necessity of household meal applications.

Purvis said the district has participated in the CEP program since 2016, following the flood that severely damaged more than 70 percent of residences, schools, churches, and businesses in the parish. CEP reimburses the district for food costs based on the percentage of students categorically eligible for free meals according to their participation in other specific means-tested programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

 

Katelyn Lockhart Cockerham, District 7

  • Inducted to the school board in January 2023
  • Serves on the Transportation, Curriculum & Policy and Cost Savings Committees
  • Resident of Walker
  • Senior Development Manager for the American Cancer Society
  • Studied business and marketing at LSU
  • Graduate of Walker High School
  • Married to Logan Cockerham, compliance supervisor with the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors
  • Mother to Nolan (7), Mary Catherine (4) and Stella (2). Nolan attends North Corbin Elementary

“Increasing transparency, being visible on the campuses of District 7, and being active within my community are what pushed me to run for this position. Serving on this board for the teachers and students of Livingston Parish is one of my life’s greatest honors.”

Katelyn Lockhart Cockerham