SUPERINTENDENT RECEIVES “HIGHLY EFFECTIVE” RATING FROM BOARD
Livingston Parish School Board members recently reviewed the job performance of Superintendent Joe Murphy, and their evaluations resulted in a “highly effective” rating for the superintendent for a second year in a row.
“As part of our duties as board members, we must evaluate the job performance of our superintendent and his top administrators to determine the quality of work that we are receiving and to identify any areas where performances could be improved,” Livingston Parish School Board President David “Bo” Graham said.
“I am pleased to announce that Superintendent Murphy continues to prove himself to be a highly effective leader during one of this district’s most challenging times,” Graham added.
Graham noted that board members submitted score sheets, ranking the superintendent’s performance on a scale of 1 to 4 in a variety of job performance categories. On several score sheets, he received a perfect 4.0 rating across the board. His total average of all score sheets earned him a 3.75 rating, which earned him a rating in the highest tier of leadership performance.
DISTRICT IMPLEMENTS PILOT STEM LEARNING PROGRAMS AT MIDDLE AND ELEMENTARY GRADES
Livingston Parish Schools is partnering with the LSU Gordon A. Cain Center’s STEM Pathways Program this school year to integrate STEM learning at the middle school and elementary levels through a pilot program in the Denham Springs High School feeder system.
The pilot program will target 12 schools in the parish – nine elementary schools, grades Pre-K to 5, and three middle schools, grades 6-8. District school leaders are exploring the possibility of expanding the program to additional LPPS schools following the initial pilot during the 2021-2022 school year.
“We’re focusing our efforts on expanding STEM learning in the Denham Springs district because of the existing partnership with LSU at the Denham Springs High School STEM and Robotics Center, which serves students in Grades 9-12. Since all the participating schools feed into the Denham Springs High School STEM and Robotics Center, it is our goal to provide our students with a vertically aligned STEM curriculum that better prepares them for courses offered at the high school level,” Superintendent Joe Murphy said
Instructional Supervisor Kelly LaBauve said two elective courses will be offered at the middle school level – an “Introduction to STEM Pathways and Careers” course will be ofhttps://lsupathways.com/fered to seventh graders at Denham Springs Junior High, Juban Parc Junior High and Southside Junior High. The eighth graders at those schools will be offered a “Survey of Computer Science” elective option. Both STEM courses will be counted toward high school class credit.
LaBauve said STEM learning will be imbedded within the “Tier 1” or primary subject fields of learning at the elementary school grade levels, including English/Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies. Those elementary schools participating in the pilot STEM learning program are Denham Springs Elementary, Eastside Elementary, Freshwater Elementary, Gray’s Creek Elementary, Juban Parc Elementary, Lewis Vincent Elementary, Northside Elementary, Seventh Ward Elementary and Southside Elementary.
ALBANY MIDDLE PRINCIPAL RECOGNIZED DURING “WATCH NIGHT CELEBRATION”
Livingston Parish school leaders hosted a “Watch Night Celebration” for Albany Middle School Principal John Hill in July to honor him for being named a finalist for Louisiana Principal of the Year. The in-person celebration was held in conjunction with the Louisiana Department of Education’s virtual ceremony, which honored all finalists and announced the state’s top winners.
“We wanted to do something special to celebrate John’s accomplishments and the recognition he is receiving from state education leaders. To be a finalist for the state’s Principal of the Year award is a tremendous honor,” Superintendent Joe Murphy said. “John’s hard work, dedication and leadership skills are exemplary, and they serve as model qualities for all our campus leaders.”
Murphy said Livingston Parish has had three finalists for the state’s top principal award for the past three years, noting that Juban Parc Junior High Principal Greg Hayden was a state finalist in 2020, and Denham Springs Junior High Principal Bryan Wax was a state finalist in 2021.
“We are very proud of all our school principals. They have tough jobs, and we expect much from them,” Murphy said. “There’s no doubt that their excellent leadership skills and passion for student learning are key ingredients in our district’s success of being among the top school districts in the state.”
LIVINGSTON PARISH ADDS SROS FOR NEW SCHOOL YEAR
The new hires will ensure no SRO will have more than four campuses to manage, thereby making the division of the schools more manageable, cutting down on response time and increasing visibility of law enforcement on the campuses.
The school system currently has 10 SROs — eight from the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office and two from the Denham Springs Police Department. The new hires will bring the total to 13. The additional hires will come from the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office and assume their duties at the start of the 2021-22 school year in August.
LPPS Risk Management Coordinator Wendy Gill said the three new officers will preside over schools in the Live Oak, Springfield, and Walker areas.
LOCAL SCHOOL LEADERS LEARN FROM ACCLAIMED SPEAKERS AT “TRUE GRIT” CONFERENCE
Livingston Parish’s school principals, central office administrators, curriculum coordinators and coaches, and teaching mentors participated this month in a two-day “True Grit” leadership conference that featured four nationally acclaimed presenters.
The speakers included Beth Houf, co-author of “Lead Like a PIRATE: Make School Amazing for Your Students and Staff;” Brad Gustafson, a national advisor for Future Ready Schools and Scholastic; Joe Sanfelippo, author of “Hacking Leadership: 10 Ways Great Leaders Inspire Learning That Teachers, Students, and Parents Love;” and Annette Breaux, co-author of “101 Answers for New Teachers and Their Mentors.”
“It is always out mindset in Livingston Parish to take time to reflect on our successes and to search out ways to improve upon our efforts. This workshop offered our leadership that opportunity to explore the impact of new strategies on school systems across our nation and to explore best practices for our local schools,” Superintendent Joe Murphy said.
HOLDEN AND MAUREPAS SCHOOLS TO RECEIVE LIGHTING FOR SOFTBALL AND BASEBALL FIELDS
The softball and baseball fields at Holden School and Maurepas School will receive lighting fixtures that will allow evening games to be played on their fields, beginning with the 2022 season, thanks to a $1 million appropriation from the Louisiana Legislature.
Holden and Maurepas are the only high schools in the parish that currently do not have lighted softball and baseball fields.
“This investment will allow all our high school campuses to host evening games on their campuses,” Superintendent Joe Murphy said. “This is a big deal for those schools and their communities. This investment will enable them to do more with their programs, by hosting tournaments and hosting key matchups.”
Louisiana Speaker of the House of Representatives Clay Schexnayder and State Rep. Buddy Mincey, Jr., recently visited the two campuses to announce the funding allocation for the projects. The two legislators also recognized the support and help of State Sen. Rogers Pope in getting the funding approved.
The price tag to install lights at the fields is projected to be about $300,000 for each campus. The local legislative delegation allocated additional dollars to allow both schools to make other needed improvements to the fields.
NEW MASCOT FOR WALKER ELEMENTARY
The new mascot’s name is Roary.
Butler suggested the name as part of a school contest. She said she chose the name because it aligns with the schools motto: “ROAR,” which stands for Respectful, Optimistic, Attentive and Responsible.
Principal Kerma Luzier said students were asked to submit original and creative names for the wildcat mascot to the school. Entries were accepted between June 21 and July 9.
“We are appreciative to all those students who participated in this fun process, and we look forward to incorporating Roary on our school materials this school year,” Luzier said.
ELEMENTARY VIRTUAL PROGRAM OFFERED FOR 2021-2022 SCHOOL YEAR
Livingston Parish Public Schools is offering a hybrid virtual learning option for students in grades 3, 4 and 5 who may benefit from partial online instruction for the 2021-2022 school year. Applications are now being accepted.
The program will be an expansion of the district’s current 100 percent virtual program that opened to qualified students in grades 6-12 last school year. The district’s virtual programs are not social distance learning options in response to the COVID pandemic. Any distance learning provisions that might be required in response to lingering health concerns for the new school year would be handled outside of this new format in accordance with state health guidelines.
“Much like our virtual program for students in grades 6-12, LPLTC Virtual 3-5 was developed from requests for alternative learning options and based on extensive research of best practices specific to the needs of grades 3-5,” Superintendent Joe Murphy said.
While the virtual program for the students in grades 6-12 is 100 percent virtual with face-to-face tutoring options, this new program will be a hybrid. Students will receive virtual instruction three days a week, and they will attend the Literacy and Technology Center campus two days a week, for three to four hours each day, to have face-to-face contact with a teacher and other students.
“Our research has determined even those students who can excel in a virtual environment still need social interaction and face-to-face reassurance in the process,” said Kim Albin, principal of the Livingston Parish Literacy and Technology Center and the Elementary Virtual Program.
LIVINGSTON PARISH SCHOOLS TO RECEIVE $50 MILLION IN FEDERAL STIMULUS FUNDING
Livingston Parish Public Schools will receive approximately $50 million dollars through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund to be spent in designated priority areas over the next three years.
ESSER funds were awarded to state educational agencies across the nation earlier this year to address the impact that COVID-19 has had, and continue to have, on elementary and secondary schools. The Louisiana Department of Education received $1.2 billion, adding to $287 million the state department received in the spring of 2020 through the CARES Act. LDOE, in turn, established spending priorities and guidelines for distributing those funds to individual school districts and charter schools across the state.
“The state has lined out five priorities area, which mirror the state’s critical goals, that will direct our efforts as we work towards achieving our prioritized goals,” Superintendent Joe Murphy said. “This funding allows us to meet many of the critical needs that were exposed during the most challenging days of the pandemic. At the same time, it will help us strengthen our learning opportunities in this new environment.”
Murphy noted that funds would not be earmarked for recurring expenses, since they would exhaust by September 2024.
DISTRICT TO HIRE MORE SCHOOL NURSES
The Livingston Parish School Board recently approved a proposal to hire 17 new licensed practical nurses for the 2021-2022 school year, effectively enlarging the district’s school nurse pool to have one for every elementary campus.
Livingston Parish Public Schools currently has 28 fulltime school nurse positions, including 17 registered nurses who serve multiple campuses. In addition to servicing students at multiple campuses, the registered nurses supervise the LPNs on staff. The new hires will increase the district’s total count to 49 school nurses.
School Nurse Coordinator Jennifer Wilkinson said the district’s need for on-campus medical staff has increased greatly over the past year due to COVID-19 guidelines. At the same time, medical needs of students in general have increased considerably over the years, as more students have identified special needs that require greater care from licensed professionals rather than unlicensed staff or paraprofessionals.
LOUISIANA GOVERNOR LIFTS STATEWIDE MASK MANDATE
With that proclamation, Livingston Parish Public Schools will not require the use of face masks by employees or students during its summer programs. Livingston Schools does respect the right of any individual who chooses to wear a face covering.
Livingston Schools is encouraging members of the parish community to reach out to their local health care providers to determine if the COVID vaccination is a viable option.
HOLDEN TEACHER NAMED TO NATIONWIDE LIST OF EXTRAORDINARY EDUCATORS
Tracie M. Porter, a sixth-grade math teacher at Holden School, has been chosen among hundreds of K-8 educators nationwide by Curriculum Associates as an Extraordinary Educator for 2021.
Porter is among 44 teachers from 26 states and Washington, D.C., who were selected for the 2021 honor that recognizes educators who exhibit best-in-class use of i-Ready and/or Ready educational materials as part of their daily instruction. The annual program recognizes educators who have exhibited student growth and achievement through formal assessments, demonstrated innovative and engaging practices for their students, and are “evangelists” for high standards in their systems.
“I am very honored to be named one of the 2021 Extraordinary Educator recipients by Curriculum Associates,” Porter said. “Being included in a group with such excellent educators is certainly an accomplishment. I believe that collaboration is important in education, and I am blessed to be given this opportunity to collaborate with some of the best.”
The i-Ready program is a comprehensive assessment and instruction program that empowers educators with the resources they need to help all students succeed. By connecting diagnostic data and personalized Instruction, i‑Ready reduces complexity, saves educators time, and makes differentiated instruction achievable in every classroom.
DISTRICT PARTNERS WITH FOCUS FOODS FOR FREE MEAL DELIVERY THIS SUMMER
Livingston Parish Public Schools has partnered with Focus Foods to provide free summer meal home delivery to individuals 18 years or younger beginning the week of May 24, 2021. Children do not have to be a student of Livingston Parish Public Schools to participate.
School officials are encouraging parents to register as soon as possible for the bi-weekly meal delivery service.
“All meals will be delivered to the children’s home at no charge to the family. Each delivery will provide two weeks of meals, including frozen and shelf stable meal varieties,” said Sommer Purvis, director of food services.
Purvis noted that while the service is free, it does require a one-time registration. Families interested in the meal service should go to https://focusfoods.formstack.com/forms/livingston_meal_box.
Focus Foods is a leading provider of nutritious meal solutions. The company’s production facility is located Baton Rouge and is capable of producing more than 50,000 meals per day. A full-time team manages quality control, including USDA and LDH nutrition guidelines.
VOTERS APPROVE $13 MILLION INVESTMENT IN DSHS ATHLETIC FACILITIES
Voters in the Denham Springs School District overwhelmingly approved a proposition to allow the Livingston Parish School Board to invest $13 million into new and improved athletic facilities at Denham Springs High School. The bonds used to pay for the improvements will be funded through the extension of an existing 8.64 mills in the district.
The proposition, which was on the April 24 ballot, passed with 76 percent approval. The
Construction on the softball and baseball fields are scheduled to begin this summer and finish in time for next year’s seasons. Construction of the track, the field house and the reconfiguration of the soccer and football field will begin in October and should finish by fall of 2022.
School board member Cecil Harris said the board also hope to build new tennis courts if funding is available to make that addition.
LIVINGSTON PARISH TEACHER-LIBRARIAN NAMED 2021 NATIONAL SCHOOL LIBRARIAN OF THE YEAR
Amanda Jones, a teacher-librarian at Live Oak Middle School, has been named one of the 2021 School Librarians of the Year by School Library Journal, the premier publication for librarians and information specialists who work with children and teens, and Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education, and media company.
The award recognizes K–12 library professionals for outstanding achievement and the exemplary use of technology and services to engage children and teens toward fostering multiple literacies. The recognition proved especially important over the past year as librarians nationwide stepped up to support students, families, and educators who have had to manage distance learning during the COVID pandemic.
Jones is featured in the April issue of the School Library Journal. The article highlighting Jones’ accomplishments is titled “Journeying with Jones.” It tells how Jones created the “Journey with Jones” program in March 2020 to connect with her students who had stopped coming to school in-person because of the COVID pandemic. Other special literacy initiatives Jones has created for her students include a Battle of the Books competition that has grown to 10 schools district-wide; the 40 Book Challenge; and the MESH Society (media literacy, ethics, sociology, and history), in which students read titles across these categories.
As a 2021 School Librarian of the Year Award winner, Jones will receive a suite of awards from Scholastic, including a $2,500 cash award and $2,500 in-kind digital and/or print products for her library, in addition to a visit from John Schumacher, the Ambassador of School Libraries for Scholastic Book Fairs, who will gift one book to every student at Live Oak Middle School, and a Scholastic Book Fairs “Mr. Schu’s Picks” collection of books for the school library.
ALBANY MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCIPAL NAMED SEMI-FINALIST FOR STATE PRINCIPAL OF THE YEAR
Albany Middle School Principal John Hill, who was named Livingston Parish’s Middle School Principal of the Year, has advanced to be a state semi-finalist for Louisiana’s Principal of the Year.
The winners of the state’s 2022 Teacher and Principal of the Year Award Programs will be announced live at the 2021 Teacher Leader Summit on May 25 in New Orleans. All the semi-finalists will be honored at the Annual Excellent Educators Awards Gala, sponsored by Dream Teachers, the Louisiana Association of Principals, and the Louisiana Department of Education, on July 16.
“Congratulations to Mr. Hill for being rightly recognized for his outstanding performance as an educator,” Superintendent Joe Murphy said. “He is an exceptional principal who exemplifies the best of our education profession.”
VOTERS ASKED TO APPROVE $13 MILLION INVESTMENT IN DSHS ATHLETIC FACILITIES ON APRIL 24 BALLOT
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 increase in taxes paid each year.
The bond election proposition will appear on the April 24 ballot for voters in the Denham Springs School Taxing District. School Board Member Cecil Harris said the district’s strong AA bond rating and current record-low interest rates make this the best time for school leaders to obtain additional funds, since that can be done with no increased annual cost to taxpayers.
School leaders propose investing $13 million in new facilities, upgrades, and expansions. Those proposed improvements include: the realignment of DSHS Yellow Jacket Stadium, creating better security designs for parking and entry; a new turf surface for soccer and football competition; a new track in the stadium and a dedicated field events area; a new field house with accommodations for male and female student-athletes; expanded weight rooms for all sports; the addition of a baseball field facility and softball field facility on the campus; and a new dedicated practice area for the marching band.
The proposed improvements will be the first major improvements to Denham Springs High School’s overall athletic program and facilities in more than 65 years.
DISTRICT CELEBRATES READING WITH DR. SEUSS
DISTRICT DELIVERS VACCINATIONS TO EMPLOYEES
Livingston Parish Public Schools is one of the first school systems in the state to offer COVID-19 vaccinations in-house.
Neary 700 active employees received their first shot of the COVID-19 vaccination on March 10 during a special district event at the Suma Professional Development Center. The event was managed by the district’s team of 27 professional school nurses. The medical team streamlined the 15-minute process, administering the Prizer/BioNTech vaccine and scheduling follow-up appointments to get the second dose on March 31 or April 1.
Employees who did not sign up for the district’s vaccination event are encouraged to receive inoculations through their private health care provider or local pharmacy.
STATE SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT VISITS LIVINGSTON PARISH
State Superintendent Cade Brumley and members of the State Department of Education’s administrative team visited the Denham Springs High School STEM & Robotics Center and the Walker High School campus in March to learn about the district’s efforts to better connect students with career opportunities. The tour was organized by State Rep. Buddy Mincey, Jr.
Livingston Parish Public Schools was recently recognized as Louisiana’s most progressive district for providing course offerings on the state’s list of high-wage, high-demand occupations. The district has earned more than $1.3 million in funding to develop stronger career course offerings in fields that are currently underserved. School officials noted that students across the parish will earn 11,500 credit hours of career and technical education this school year, helping them better connect to post-graduation job opportunities.
LEGISLATIVE BREAKFAST INFORMS ATTENDEES OF IMPORTANT ISSUES
Local elected leaders and school officials gathered for a recent breakfast meeting at the Denham Springs High School STEM & Robotics Center to hear information on legislative issues that may impact local school and government funding that are being proposed for the 2021 Louisiana Legislative Session.
State Sen. J. Rogers Pope told those in attendance that the governor is proposing a modest pay increase for school employees in the budget. He said he believes there is much support for the increase among state legislators, but said he wished the governor would have proposed a more substantial increase. He also said he is very concerned about current discussions among state leaders to eliminate the state’s inventory tax as a cost-savings measure. He said elimination of the inventory tax could reduce public school funding.
Livingston Parish Assessor Jeff Taylor warned that elimination of the local inventory tax could cause property millages to increase for some districts, and Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard said his office could see a reduction in funding if the inventory tax funds were eliminated.
State Rep. Buddy Mincey told attendees he had formed a committee to review the state’s shortage for certified teachers. Livingston Schools Human Resources Director Bruce Chaffin, who sits on that state committee, noted that the district has seen a tremendous downturn in the number of available certified teachers that are coming out of local colleges.
Mincey, who is in his first term as the representative for District 71, was recently named the Louisiana School Board Association’s 2020 Legislator of the Year.
THE YEAR’S TOP PRINCIPALS AND TEACHERS HONORED
Livingston Parish Public Schools recently announced the Teacher of the Year and Principal of the Year winners for the current school year.
The district’s top principals are: Elementary Principal of the Year Amy Savage from South Live Oak Elementary; Middle School Principal of the Year John Hill from Albany Middle School; and High School Principal of Year Beth Jones from Live Oak High School.
The top winning teachers include: Elementary Teacher of the Year Dana Baier from Eastside Elementary School; Middle School Teacher of the Year Lauren Gourney from Denham Springs Junior High; and High School Teacher of the Year Louis Sansovich from Albany High School.
The top three teachers were selected from nominees from schools across the parish. Those teachers earning the Teacher of the Year honors at their respective schools include:
High Schools – Louis Sansovich, Albany High; Courtney Richoux, Denham Springs High; Devin Dubois, Doyle High; Michele Yawn, Live Oak High; Shaunte’ Kraft, Maurepas; and Ellen Fort, Walker High.
Middle Schools – Josh Burton, Albany Middle; Lauren Gourney, Denham Springs Junior High; Erik Willie, French Settlement Junior High; Alice Taylor, Frost; Suzette Rabalais, Juban Parc Junior High; Christy Matthews, Live Oak Junior High; Misty Reynerson, Live Oak Middle; Jennifer Stewart, North Corbin Junior High; Shelli DuRousseau, Southside Junior High; and Nicole Savage, Springfield Middle.
Elementary Schools – Rebecca Scivique, Albany Lower Elementary; Kelli Satterfield, Albany Upper Elementary; Stephanie Fernon, Denham Springs Elementary; Amanda Robinson, Doyle Elementary; Dana Baier, Eastside Elementary; Amanda Thomas, French Settlement Elementary; Bette Jo Sibley, Freshwater Elementary; Helena Olson, Gray’s Creek Elementary; Brittany Rigsby, Holden; Kelly Price, Juban Parc Elementary; Crystal Gaubert, Levi Milton Elementary; Brandy Tullos, Lewis Vincent Elementary; Aimee Martin, Live Oak Elementary; Dana Perere, North Corbin Elementary; Amanda Gann, North Live Oak Elementary; Haley McDermitt, Northside Elementary; Sherry Wentzel, Seventh Ward Elementary; Eileen Jarman, South Fork Elementary; Kara Patterson, South Walker Elementary; Joni Lexia, Springfield Elementary; Leah Davis, Southside Elementary; and Carolyn Will, Walker Elementary.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.