February 2021

CONGRESSMAN GRAVES COMMENDS LIVINGSTON SCHOOLS

U.S. Congressman Garret Graves recently recognized Livingston Parish Public Schools on being named a Forbes Magazine Best Employer in the State of Louisiana.

“Having worked with LPPS, and (Superintendent Joe Murphy) specifically, over the years to rebuild after the 2016 Flood and to adapt during a global pandemic, I know that the Forbes recognition is a tribute to the nurturing, collegial, dynamic and transparent environment that has been carefully cultivated at Livingston Parish Public Schools,” Graves wrote in his Feb. 9 letter to the superintendent. Graves represents Louisiana’s 6th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Though the education excellence of LPPS is widely known, it is worth noting that Forbes recognizes LPPS as the top school system and the top public service entity in Louisiana to achieve this recognition,” Graves added.  “Please extend our congratulations to the women and men who comprise this best employer in the State of Louisiana.”

 

LIVINGSTON SCHOOLS NOW SCHEDULING COVID VACCINATION APPOINTMENTS FOR MARCH 10

Superintendent Joe Murphy announced that Livingston Parish Public Schools will make available COVID vaccinations on March 10 for those active employees who register online for the service.

Murphy said the district anticipates being able to accommodate 720 qualified registrants for that day with vaccinations administered by the school system’s nurse professionals from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Suma Professional Development Center in Satsuma.  He noted that March 10 is currently scheduled to be a professional development day, so no classes are scheduled to be held that day.

“We want to encourage all our employees to take advantage of this opportunity, or to continue working with their private health officials or pharmacies to receive the vaccination,” Murphy said.  “The vaccination can help our employees protect themselves, their students, their coworkers, their families and our entire community.”

Murphy said if the number of registrations exceed the 720 count, the district will place those names on a waiting list to be contacted in the event there are cancellations, or the district will follow up with them to set appointments at a later date.

Murphy said an on-line registration link was made available at 5 p.m. Feb. 23, for employees to sign up for an appointment.  He noted that active Livingston Parish Public School employees include all those who received a check from the district in December 2020 or January 2021.

School district employees across Louisiana became eligible to receive the COVID vaccination following a proclamation from the governor.  Since that time, the district has been working with state health officials to share pertinent information with employees and to help facilitate a vaccination station with on-staff nurse professionals.

 

SCHOOL BOARD ASKING VOTERS TO FUND ATHLETIC IMPROVEMENT AT DSHS

The Livingston Parish School Board is asking voters to extend an existing 8.64 mills dedicated to capital improvements in the Denham Springs School District to fund much-needed athletic facility improvements at the high school with NO increases in taxes paid each year.

The proposal includes improvements to DSHS Jacket Stadium, including a realignment of the field and better security designs for parking and field entry, a new track and field events facility, a new soccer and football turf field, a new field house and expanded weight rooms for both male and female student-athletes, and the addition of fully designed baseball and softball fields on site.  The complex improvements will also include a new band practice area.

This $13 million investment will mark the first major improvement to the high school’s overall athletic program in more than 65 years!

School leaders propose taking advantage of record-low interest rates with a 20-year refinancing plan that will save $2 million overall and create an additional $13 million to invest in capital improvements.  The funding plan will NOT increase what taxpayers currently pay each year.

Voters in the Denham Springs School Taxing District will vote on the proposal on the April 24 ballot. Early voting for the election will be held April 10-17.

 

LIVINGSTON SCHOOLS ANNOUNCE STUDENTS OF THE YEAR


Livingston Parish Public Schools has announced its Student of the Year winners for the 2020-2021 school year.  The top winners in the district are Emma Miranda, a senior at Albany High School; Sophia Chavers, an 8th grader at Albany Middle School; and Khloe’ Golden, a 5th grader at Juban Parc Elementary School.

All three winners were selected from the individual school winners and they will advance to compete in the state’s regional competition.  Winners at the regional level will qualify for the state’s finals, which are held in May.

Those Livingston Parish students named 2020-2021 Student of the Year winners at their respective schools include:

12th Grade – Emma Miranda, Albany High; Hailey Enamorado, Denham Springs High; Jessica Jemison, Doyle High; Blain Seale, French Settlement High; Olivia Barnes, Holden High; Ethan Cooper, Live Oak High; Maci Scivicque, Maurepas; Kaitlyn Norman, Springfield High; and Madeline Watson, Walker High.

8th Grade – Sophia Chavers, Albany Middle; Peyton Baker, Denham Springs Junior High; Alex Aucoin, Doyle Junior High; Phoenix Bhramayana, French Settlement High; Reagan Turner, Frost; Sawyer Herring, Holden Junior High; Kellie LaPorte, Juban Parc Junior High; Jace Griffin, Live Oak Junior High; Mackenzie Hutson, Maurepas; Sadie Gallman, North Corbin Junior High; Sadie Nickens, Southside Junior High; Sydney Kinchen, Springfield Middle; Julianna Easley, Walker Junior High; and Sasha Caruso, Westside Junior High.

5th Grade – Dillon Sutton, Albany Middle; Gabriela Gann, Denham Springs Elementary; Oaklee Bigner, Doyle Elementary; Gage Wynne, Eastside Elementary; Bentley Allement, French Settlement Elementary; Lillian Murphy, Freshwater Elementary; Peyton Ogle, Frost; Khloe Gotreaux, Gray’s Creek Elementary; Bailey Kemp, Holden; Khloe’ Golden, Juban Parc Elementary; Claire Puig, Levi Milton Elementary; Collin Hamilton, Lewis Vincent Elementary; Jaxson Lefebvre, Live Oak Middle; Michael Miller, Maurepas; Karigan Bourgeois, North Corbin Elementary; Sarah Jacobsen, Northside Elementary; Katelyn Devall, Seventh Ward Elementary; Isabella Blanchard, South Fork Elementary; Rylee McKenzie, South Walker Elementary; Ceionna Brock, Southside Elementary; and Jackson Aucoin, Springfield Elementary.

January 2021

SCHOOL BOARD APPROVES 13TH CHECK FOR EMPLOYEES

The Livingston Parish School Board approved at its Jan. 21 meeting a proposal submitted by Superintendent Joe Murphy to pay a stipend to all full-time district employees.  The stipend will be $1,000 for all full-time employees.

Murphy said the district can make the one-time supplemental payments thanks to savings in expenditures and unexpected increases in sales tax revenue accrued over the past six months.

“Much credit goes to our administrators for being good stewards of our dollars and making sure that dedicated federal and state dollars were utilized to cover applicable expenses so as not to impact the district’s general fund,” Murphy said.

“It is certainly our desire to recognize the value of our employees and to compensate them as we are able.  We are glad we can offer this stipend to them, especially in light of the challenges they have endured over this past year,” he added.

Murphy said the total cost of the one-time stipend is $4.778 million.  He said employees will receive the “13th check” by Feb. 11.

 

DISTRICT ENACTS COVID-19 LEAVE FOR EMPLOYEES FOR 2021

Superintendent Joe Murphy said all district employees will be eligible for up to 10 calendar days of leave related to a positive case of COVID-19 and seven calendar days for close contact with a positive case, retroactive to the start of the New Year, and extending through March 31, thanks to a policy change approved Jan. 21.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 provided school system employees 10 days of leave to cover days they could not work due to being quarantined following contact tracing. However, those days expired Dec. 31 with the 2020 tax year, as it was a federal tax credit that reimbursed districts. The latest federal coronavirus relief package did not include a new credit for this year.

The addition of leave days is a local option, Murphy noted.  He said the district would incorporate the local leave time into any extension that Congress may enact for this year.

“It’s important to note the COVID leave days are being granted by the local district – not by the state or federal governments at this time,” Murphy said.  “We will certainly incorporate this change with any that might be issued by the state or federal government in the future.  We also will review our policy again at its expiration date of March 31 to determine if additional action is needed to readdress the issue.”

The Livingston Parish School Board voted to give employees a “clean slate” of COVID sick days for the new year, regardless of whether they had used any or all their previous COVID leave.  The COVID leave days are calendar days and not work/school days.

“This is the right thing to do,” Murphy said.  “We have employees who had exhausted their COVID leave and many others could be faced with taking emergency sick leave to cover necessary absences in this new semester.  This policy change recognizes the hardships that COVID is creating for many of our people.”

 

FRENCH SETTLEMENT HIGH NAMES BASEBALL FIELD FOR BELOVED COACH

Mark Holmes, former FSHS baseball coach

French Settlement High School has honored the many achievements and contributions of one of its most beloved baseball coaches by naming the school’s baseball field the “Mark Holmes Field.”

Mark Holmes taught and coached at the school from 1990 to 2010.  During his time as the school’s head baseball coach, he compiled 324 wins and won nine district championships, made four appearances to the state tournament, was Class B State Runner Up in 2002, and was named the LBCA Coach of the Year in 2001.

“The Livingston Parish School Board wishes to establish an enduring reminder and to celebrate the life and contributions of Mr. Mark Holmes to the Livingston Parish School System and French Settlement High School,” Superintendent Joe Murphy said.

French Settlement High School Principal John Chewning said the Holmes’ name would be added to the field before the start of this year’s baseball season.

“Coach Holmes was my coach, I am very excited about being able to this for him and I am Honored to be a part of it. When you think about French Settlement baseball, you think of Mark Holmes,” Chewning said.

 

SCHOOL SYSTEM RECEIVES CLEAN AUDIT

A full audit of the Livingston Parish School System’s financial records for the 2019-2020 fiscal year shows that the school system is in compliance with all state auditing guidelines, showing no material weaknesses in its internal controls.

The audit of the system’s basic financial statements was presented to the school board by independent auditors with Hannis T. Bourgeois at the board’s Jan. 21 meeting.

“We are most pleased that our school system continues to be a good steward of the people’s monies; spending those dollars correctly – investing wisely in our facilities, in our employees and, ultimately, in our students,” said Livingston Parish School Board President David “Bo” Graham.

The financial report included a review of governmental activities, each major fund, the budgetary comparison statement of the general fund, the budgetary comparison statement of the Disaster Special Revenue Fund, the fiduciary fund statement, and the aggregate remaining fund information of the school system for the year ending June 30, 2020.

 

December 2020

LIVINGSTON SCHOOLS NAMED A BEST EMPLOYER IN LOUISIANA BY FORBES

A Forbes-sponsored survey of employees who work for large employers ranks Livingston Parish Public Schools as the second-best organization to work for in Louisiana in 2020, according to an analysis posted on the Forbes website.

Livingston Schools, which has nearly 3,900 contract, part-time and substitute employees, ranked second on the state’s list, only behind the Lafayette-based wholesale jewelry company, Stuller, which employees 1,000 people.

“We are so very honored by this ranking, because it comes from our employees,” Superintendent Joe Murphy said.  “Our mission at Livingston Parish Public Schools is to make a difference every day – not only in the lives of our students, but with our teachers, administrators, para-professionals and staff.”

The second annual Forbes list of top employers, which is based on a survey of 80,000 workers nationwide, consists of 51 separate rankings, one for each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. Only employers with at least 500 workers on their payrolls were included in the survey.

The top ten best employers in Louisiana were:  Stuller, Livingston Parish Public Schools, St. Tammany Parish Public Schools, Willis-Knighton Health System, Capital One, Royal Dutch Shell, Waitr Holdings, Marriott International, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, and Eldorado Resorts.  Other school systems on the list included Tulane University (13), McNeese State University (17), Jefferson Parish Public School System (31), and Ouachita Parish School Board (40).

 

NORTHSIDE ELEMENTARY PRE-K PROGRAM AMONG STATE’S TOP PERFORMING

Northside Elementary Pre-K Program has been named a Top 10-rated early childhood education site, according to the Louisiana Department of Education’s 2019-2020 performance profile report.  At the same time, five other parish early childhood education sites received the state’s top excellent rating.

The state department’s report is a rating system for all publicly funded early childhood and Pre-K providers in the state akin to annual school performance scores for those systems serving older students.  The state rates providers as excellent, high proficient, proficient, approaching proficient or unsatisfactory. About 200 providers of the more than 1,500 across the state received the highest ranking of “excellent,” meaning they received an average score of a 6 or higher on a scale of 1 to 7.

Northside Elementary received an excellent rating of 6.53 – the state’s fifth-highest rating, tying for the No. 8 ranking.  The school scored high in emotional support (6.85) and classroom organization support (6.83).

“We are proud of the growth we are seeing across our district in our early childhood classes,” Supervisor of Instruction Stacey Milton said. “In addition to Northside Elementary, our programs at Eastside Elementary, Freshwater Elementary and Seventh Ward Elementary all earned excellent ratings for a second year in a row.  And according to the latest 2019-2020 performance profile results, Denham Springs Elementary and Lewis Vincent Elementary are now added to the list of excellent-rated site.”

Milton noted that another 18 early childhood education sites across Livingston Parish scored in the high proficiency category, nearing the highly coveted excellent rating.

Northside Elementary Pre-K Teacher Elizabeth Jordan, center, enjoys a classroom campfire session with students Maryana Netherland and Allan Rodriguez Vicente, left to right. Northside Elementary has been rated among the best early childhood education sites in the state.

 

 

STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH APPROVES NEW CORONAVIRUS RULES

The Louisiana Department of Health, aligning with new Centers for Disease Control guidelines, has revised its policy regarding quarantine times for school employees and students who are determined to be close contacts to positive COVID cases.

Under the new policy, students, teachers and staff can end their quarantines after seven days if they test negative for the coronavirus and show no symptoms, or return to campus after 10 days without a test if no symptoms surface.  The previous policy had required quarantines to stay in effect for 14 days for students and employees who had come in close contact with someone testing positive, with no options of “testing out” or lessening the quarantine time regardless of having symptoms or not.

State Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley had presented evidence to state legislators in November that the previous 14-day rule posed problems for schools.  He noted that the proper management of the shorter quarantine periods will allow more students to safely experience valuable class time and school activities.

Visit the Louisiana Department of Health’s website for more information on COVID-19 guidelines and resources available to schools.

 

 

November 2020

GIRLS WHO CODE CLUB GETS STRONG START

More than 20 girls attended the kick-off event for the Girls Who Code Club at the Denham Springs High School STEM and Robotics Center on Nov. 3. The Girls Who Code Club focuses on educating, equipping and inspiring girls to pursue careers in technology.

More than 20 girls from across Livingston Parish attended the Nov. 3 inaugural event for the Girls Who Code Club, which introduced them to educational options and high-paying career opportunities that are available to women with strong computing skills.

The Denham Springs High School STEM and Robotics Center hosted the event, which was sponsored by the local Raising Canes, Chick-Fil-A and Starbucks, with hopes of attracting female students to pursue more technology-based learning.

“The girls were informed about opportunities and introduced to other girls who share their interests and desires to pursue a career in computer technology,” said Michael Simmons, director of the STEM and Robotics Center.  He said the Girls Who Code Club is a nationally recognized non-profit organization that focuses on educating, equipping and inspiring girls to actively seek out careers in technology.

Simmons said the club will meet on Monday nights at the DSHS STEM and Robotics Center from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

 

WALKER STUDENTS PARTICIPATE IN YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS ACADEMY

Gabryel Duncan

Matt Rotolo

Two Walker High School students, senior Gabryel Duncan and junior Matt Rotolo, are among a select class of 18 public, private and online charter school students who are participating in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy of Baton Rouge.

As part of the academy, the students attend weekly classes at LSU’s E.J. Ourso College of Business.  Each student is tasked with generating a business idea, writing a business plan, pitching that plan to a panel of investors, and then launching their own companies.  At the end of the program, the students will be able to register their own LLCs with the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office.  The student with the winning concept will advance to a national pitch competition in New York next year.

Duncan’s business idea is to expand the product market for people with disabilities, resulting in greater awareness and inclusion for the community.  Rotolo’s business idea is to provide a service that helps students at Walker High School have a fully functional and working cellphone at their disposal.

 

COVID QUARANTINE POLICY EXPLAINED

Livingston Parish Public Schools continues to operate under Phase 3 of its Start Strong attendance plan, as determined by the governor’s declared Phase 3 recovery status for the state.  At the same time, the district is subject to guidelines set by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) related to mandatory quarantines for positive cases and close contacts.

Under those guidelines, if a student or employee tests positive for the virus, there is a mandatory 10-day quarantine period.  When a student or employee is determined to have been in close contact of a positive case, there is a 14-day mandatory quarantine period for that person.  The BESE guidelines do not allow for close contacts to “test out” of quarantine, but rather, they must adhere to the full 14-day waiting period.

Failure by the district to adhere to BESE policies could jeopardize funding, place schools in opposition of other governmental agencies, and possibly lead to the closing of schools.

October 2020

ACT SCORES FOR CLASS OF 2020 AMONG STATE’S TOP FIVE

The Livingston Parish Class of 2020 scored above the state average on the ACT, the state’s test that determines college readiness, according to the Louisiana Department of Education. The exam measures what students have learned in math, English, reading, and science and is used for college admissions and access to scholarships and financial aid, including TOPS.

Livingston Parish’s composite score was 20.0.  It was one of five districts — out of a possible 70 — with an average score of at least 20. Others included Plaquemines (20.1), St. Tammany (21.1), and West Feliciana (20.0) parishes, and the Zachary Community School District (21.6).

Locally, French Settlement High and Live Oak High netted the highest composite scores, each averaging a 21.1 on the ACT. French Settlement High and Live Oak High were two of 26 schools statewide with a score of at least 21, which earns schools an “A” grade in the state’s high school rating system.

Narrowly behind those two schools was Holden High (20.9), followed by Maurepas High and Doyle High (20.4), Denham Springs High (20.2), Albany High (19.1), Springfield High (19), and Walker High (18.8).

Approximately 67 percent of last year’s seniors who took the ACT (995 out of 1,483) earned a college-going ACT of 18, compared to the state total of 52 percent. Of that total, 42 percent of Livingston Parish’s seniors scored at least a 21, higher than the statewide total of 32 percent.

Livingston Parish increased its ACT scores among Students with Disabilities (15.8 in 2019 to 16.1 in 2020) and Economically Disadvantaged (18.7 in 2019 to 18.9 in 2020), while the state overall saw declines in both of those subgroups.

Overall, the state has seen a steady decrease in ACT scores since 2013 when the state granted all students free access to the test.  Livingston Parish has seen a similar trend.

 

 

DISTRICT CREATES LIVINGSTON PARISH TEACHER ASSOCIATION

The Livingston Parish School Board recently voted to create the Livingston Parish Teacher Association to give all teachers a stronger voice in matters across the district.  The structure of the association will allow every teacher to have a vote and provide direct input.

“It is our goal that greater and more inclusive dialogue will help make our system stronger and more united in our primary mission of providing our children with a quality education,” Superintendent Joe Murphy said.

Murphy noted that the LPTA will provide input on the district’s calendar, pupil progression, curriculum adoption, textbook adoption, Strong Start plans, safety technology steering, school wellness and third-party administrators (insurance).

 

STUDENTS RAISE MONEY FOR SCHOOL SUPPLY NEEDS

Pictured with Livingston Assessor Jeff Taylor, from the left, are Carley Forbes, Christian Urbana, Jayde Revish, Grady Smith, Gentry Rogers, Scarlett Kraft, and Principal Laura Dunlap.

Students at Seventh Ward Elementary School recently participated in a Free Dress Day fundraiser to raise money for Assess the Need, the Livingston Parish School Supply Program that provides supplies for needy children in every school in the parish.

The students raised more than $500 and presented Livingston Parish Assessor Jeff Taylor with the check. Taylor is the sponsor of Assess the Need, which recently held its 20th consecutive annual drive in the parish.  Over the past 20 years, the program has raised nearly $1 million for school supplies in Livingston Parish.

 

 

September 2020

LIVINGSTON SCHOOLS MOURN DEATH OF STUDENT-ATHLETE

Livingston Parish Public Schools received the sad news that Denham Springs High School junior Remy Hidalgo died in the early hours of Sept. 18.  He was in the care of Children’s Hospital New Orleans following an incident at football practice earlier this week.

School counselors have been made available at Denham Springs High School, as well as any other school in the district, to assist students and faculty who may need help.

The collective prayers and thoughts of the district go out to family and friends, and to the community who loved this special young man.

 

DISTRICT MOVES TO PHASE 3 SCHOOL ATTENDANCE PLAN

Livingston Parish Public Schools transitioned all students in grades Pre-K to 12 to receive face-to-face instruction five days per week on their home campuses this month following Gov. John Bel Edwards’ announcement to move the state into Phase 3 of its reopening plan.  The move was completed over a four-day phase-in period:

  • Grades 6 and 9 returned full time to campus on Sept. 16
  • Grades 7 and 10 returned full time to campus on Sept. 17
  • Grades 8 and 11 returned full time to campus on Sept. 18
  • Grade 12 returned full time to campus on Sept. 21

Students in grades Pre-K to 5 already were given the option to attend classes five days per week at their campuses under the Phase 2 Plan.

Superintendent Joe Murphy noted that many restrictions will remain in place in Phase 3.  In particular, buses are operating at 75% capacity and riders are still required to sanitize their hands upon entering; students are afforded multiple opportunities to wash hands and masks are still be required for students in 3rd grade or above, as well as for employees.  In addition, temperature checks are conducted every day by the end of first hour, and anyone with a temperature reading of 100.4 degrees or above is isolated for parental pick up with next step guidance provided. Students must still eat in their classrooms or designated areas, and lunches are picked up in the cafeterias in static groups.

 

GROUNDBREAKING HELD FOR NEW K-8 SOUTHSIDE CAMPUS

School officials and local leaders participated in the groundbreaking celebration for the new Southside Campus on Sept. 10.  Pictured from left to right are Livingston Parish School Board Members Brad Harris, Cecil Harris and Jan Benton; Southside Junior High Principal Wes Partin, Southside Elementary Principal Laura Williams, Congressman Garret Graves, Superintendent Joe Murphy, Former State Sen. Dale Erdey, State Sen. J. Rogers Pope, State Rep. Buddy Mincey, Jr., Livingston School Maintenance Director John Varnado, and School Board Member Bo Graham.

Livingston Parish Public School leaders hosted a ceremonial groundbreaking on Sept. 10 for the new $45 million, state-of-the-art K-8 Southside Campus that will be constructed in Denham Springs to replace two schools that were destroyed during the August 2016 flood.

The new two-story campus will incorporate Southside Elementary (K-5) and Southside Junior High (6-8).  Most of the original campus facilities for the two schools were demolished to make way for new construction. School officials opted not to rebuild Southside Elementary at its original site on Range Avenue, but to relocate it to the site of the 27-acre Southside Junior High site on Highway 16.  The property on Range Avenue is now home to the Denham Springs High School STEM and Robotics Center.

“This day marks the end of a long, arduous journey. It’s hard to imagine how much we have overcome since we were faced with only debris and destruction at this site.  But more importantly, this marks the first day a new journey for this community – one of restoration and progress and brighter, better days ahead,” Superintendent Joe Murphy said.

Murphy credited U.S. Congressman Garret Graves for his leadership and dedicated pursuit to secure funding for the new facility.  In particular, Graves saved the district $17 million by having Congress reduce the NFIP penalty against flooded schools in the parish.

Site preparation for the two-school campus is scheduled to begin later this month, with full construction slated to be complete by the start of the 2022-2023 school year.

 

TESTING PROCEDURES USED TO ENSURE CLEANLINESS OF CAMPUSES

Livingston Parish Public Schools is utilizing ATP meters to assess the level of cleanliness of surfaces in the system’s many classrooms and buildings.

ATP meters measure relative light units that identify living organisms on inanimate surfaces. ATP, or Adenosine Tri-Phosphate, is an energy molecule that is present in all living cells. If it is alive or was once alive, it contains ATP – this is true for animal cells, plant cells and bacterial cells.  A measurement of ATP can quickly correlate to a measurement of how clean a surface is – the less ATP, the less contaminants present and the cleaner the surface.

Risk Management Coordinator Wendy Gill said the ATP meter testing is done in 10 common traffic areas on every campus – the front main entry door, the waiting area in the front office, the cafeteria, the library, the school’s isolation room, and five random classrooms.

“The good news is that of the 170 tests conducted at 17 school sites tested to date, only a total of eight sites had areas on their campuses that have to be re-treated.  The rest had no areas that scored below a hospital grade sanitization level,” Gill said, noting that the district is currently testing its remaining campuses.

 

August 2020

Nearly 90% OF STUDENTS OPT FOR ON-CAMPUS INSTRUCTION

Approximately 90 percent of all students enrolled in Livingston Parish Public Schools have opted to receive instruction through one of the district’s on-campus formats, according to Superintendent Joe Murphy.

Murphy said (as of Aug. 17, 2020) the district has enrolled 26,155 students for the fall semester. Of that total number, only 2,980 students have enrolled in a virtual-only format because of COVID-19 health concerns.

Livingston Parish Schools opened on Aug. 7, according to its Phase 2 plan, with a majority of students receiving instruction through a hybrid format that includes on-campus and virtual instruction.

Currently, 7,893 students have been assigned to Group A to attend classes at their in-district schools on Mondays and Wednesdays and every other Friday, and 7,509 students will be in Group B to attend classes at their in-district schools on Tuesdays and Thursdays and every other Friday opposite Group A. The students are receiving virtual instruction on the days they are not scheduled to be on their campuses. The hybrid structure applies to those students in grades 3 to 12.

Students in grades pre-K to 2, as well as students with special needs and those subject to special circumstances, are attending classes at their in-district schools five days per week.  Currently, 7,534 students are enrolled for this traditional campus learning group.

 

SCHOOL OFFICIALS ADDRESS INTERNET CONNECTION ISSUES

School Technology Director Carlos Williams addresses state leaders about a lack of internet access for homes across Livingston Parish.  The school system is working to improve digital access to students to support virtual instruction efforts.  Also pictured are State Rep. Buddy Mincey, Jr., of Denham Springs; State Rep. Daryl Deshotel of Marksville; Assistant Superintendent Jody Purvis and State Senator J. Rogers of Pope of Denham Springs.

School Technology Director Carlos Williams recently presented a long list of issues and concerns that the Livingston Parish Public School System is facing with having adequate digital access to all its students across the parish.

He told state leaders that a large portion of students will be receiving virtual instruction in some way or another this semester, so parish-wide access to the internet is critical to the district’s instructional efforts. Williams made his presentation to State Senator J. Rogers Pope and State Representative Buddy Mincey, Jr., both of Denham Springs, and State Representative Daryl Deshotel of Marksville.

Williams said an estimated 2,500 to 3,500 Livingston Parish students do not have internet access at their homes.  At the same time, many areas of the parish lack in the fiber build out by a service provider, while others also have poor cell coverage.  Williams said state help is needed in developing a long-term plan to work with vendors to install infrastructure that can provide broadband access, to work with cell providers to provide better coverage, and to develop additional community partnerships for better access.

 

ASSESS THE NEED SCHOOL SUPPLY PROGRAM IN 20TH YEAR

Assess the Need volunteer Amber Cunningham holds a sign to instruct donors how to give to this year’s school supply program by focusing the camera app on their cell phones on the QR codes to directly link to a Venmo or PayPal pay portal.  Also pictured at the donor table is volunteer Garret Childers.

This is the 20th year that Livingston Parish Assessor Jeff Taylor, local volunteers and area businesses have once again sponsored the Assess the Need campaign to provide school supplies for needy students.  Supplies for nearly 3,000 students were distributed to schools before the first day of class despite challenges caused by the constraints and economic concerns of COVID.

“Many of our families and local businesses have been directly impacted this year by the Coronavirus, which has created an added struggle to what can already be a challenging time for parents and grandparents to finance their children’s needs to go back to school,” Taylor said.

“By helping struggling families receive the school supplies their children need, they can prioritize their limited resources on food and clothing.”

Taylor noted donors can give to the program without coming into contact with volunteers, who in past years, stood outside the parish’s large Wal-Mart Stores to collection donations.  This year, donors can use the camera apps on their cell phones to connect directly to a pay portal on Venmo or PayPal to give.  All donations are tax-exempt. Links to those pay portals are available at www.AssesstheNeed.com.

 

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.