At Wednesday’s meeting of the Evangeline Parish School Board, the board presented their “Closing the Learning Gap” plan, intended to address the lower testing scores from recent years. According to the latest data, Evangeline Parish schools performed better than 40% (28 out of 70) districts in LA, but the board feels that our schools can do much better. They have not received a new district score since 2019 due to the pandemic.
With this new plan, teachers will make weekly data reports and provide at-risk students with direct instruction to help close learning gaps. Students at the basic level will receive targeted instruction to accelerate them into Mastery level. The same approach will be used for students already at Mastery levels, but with enrichment time instead of acceleration. K-2 students, though not tested, will also be assessed to help keep them on grade level.
Additionally, “homework hotlines” will be coming in September to help students with their work and answer question. Targeted support for teachers and teacher quality will also be implemented.
Dr. Chuck Aswell was in attendance to give a follow-up from their last meeting. He says that while he understands the public’s frustrations at the current situation, the board has to follow Gov. Edwards’ mask mandate for ages 5 and older. He clarified that the mandate is 100% legal, since the state of Louisiana has the right to preserve public health and safety.
Temperatures will be taken at schools and, if they are too high, the individual will be tested for COVID-19. If the test comes back positive, the individual will be sent home for a 10-day quarantine along with all household members. As of Wednesday, quarantine is no longer required if contact with COVID-19 is made, but only if an individual is vaccinated. Dr. Aswell remains adamant that the pandemic is not just an individual fight, but something that affects everyone. The number of children on ventilators in ICU is going up rapidly, but the vaccine is here and needs to be utilized not only for our own sakes, but for the future of our children.
Mr. Lazard finished by stating that he is adamant about keeping the students in in the classroom and that the public’s cooperation is appreciated.
The board received an update on “Leader in Me,” a program intended to better not just the schools, but also the community. The program is intended as a “culture change” in how students live, relate to others, and work in their community. It gives each child a job or responsibility within the classroom and forms good habits by preparing them for the future. Instead of reaching individual students, the program allows teachers and mentors to present 100s of students with equal opportunities. Right now, the program is only in 4 schools beginning with elementary, but they plan to bring it to every school and every grade in the future.
EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY: all school board employees can wear tennis shoes until further notice
Evangeline Parish School Board
4 August 2021
Mask wearing was the hot topic at Wednesday’s meeting of the Evangeline Parish School Board. At their last meeting, it was decided that masks would be voluntary unless the state of Louisiana ordered otherwise. Since the state has issued a mask mandate, the decision is no longer in the hands of the school board; they must abide by Governor John Bel Edwards’ orders.
Dr. Chuck Aswell was in attendance to give everyone information on masks and how they work. He said that clear plastic face shields, while comfortable, are not effective on their own. COVID-19 is a droplet disease, meaning that it is not airborne and that those droplets can slide down the plastic and defeat the purpose of the mask. Handmade cotton masks should be 3 layers thick: a cotton interior to absorb, a poly-woven blend in the middle, and polyester on the outside to prevent the droplets from escaping. Surgical masks are best for public use, while N95 masks are recommended for healthcare workers. Essentially, he said, N95 masks protect the wearer since they absorb what comes in, and surgical masks protect the public by absorbing what goes out.
All students and employees will be required to wear a surgical mask or a 3-layer cotton mask on campuses.
Dr. Aswell also says that while over 300 million people in the US are vaccinated, only 6,000 deaths are attributed to adverse effects of the vaccine. Again, he warns everyone to be wary of misinformation spread online.
Several parents and citizens showed up at the meeting to argue for or against mask-wearing; however, since public comments were not on the agenda, the public was not permitted to speak. Individuals who chose not to wear masks were asked to remain outside. Instead, some upset individuals chose to shout over the board members to express their anger over the mask mandate and accuse the board of dictatorship. Tensions quickly rose, with some people taking off their masks and others shouting their opinions from outside the room. Authorities were called and an officer arrived to keep watch at the door. Mr. Arthur Sampson spoke in favor of the mask mandate, but since public comments were not allowed from either side, he was still asked to remain silent. He left after threatening to sue the school board for silencing the public but returned later to inform them that his attorney would be in touch.
The school board would like to remind everyone that all public schools in Evangeline Parish will return on Wednesday, August 11th; teachers are to return to work on Monday, August 9th. They would also like to stress that NO child will ever be tested for the virus without parent approval.
Evangeline Parish Police Jury reviewing funding sources August 2, 2021 The Evangeline Parish Police Jury, Monday, was notified by Secretary Treasurer Donald Bergeron that the parish is some $63,000 over budget in housing parish prisoners in out of parish prisons and there is still five months left in the budget year. The jury is mandated to house prison prisoners. More bad news came from Jury legal advisor Christopher Ludeau. He informed the jury , due to new Covid restrictions, the Department of Corrections has stopped the transporting of D.O.C. prisoners plus possibly suspending jury trials which will aggravate the jury’s financial problems. The jury advised Secretary Treasurer Donald Bergeron to look at the possibility of having excess funds from the Parish Library and Health Unit taxes be re-dedicated to a special court fund to help pay for parish inmates during this financial crisis facing the parish. Juror Sidney Fontenot “We have to let the public know what our problems are and what options we have. If we don’t do something, it’s going to bankrupt this parish.”. In other business, the police jury voted to enter into a cooperative endeavor agreement with L.U.S. to secure funding sources for Evangeline Parish to get high speed fiber to the homes of parish residents. Ryan Meche of L.U.S. Fiber spoke to the jury during the meeting. His company offers the fastest internet service in America at 10 GB. The police jury will be applying for a number of state and federal grants to bring high speed internet and broadband service to residents throughout the parish. In other action the police jury: --approved keeping the Lake Cove precinct at Berl Clark’s store after earlier last month voted to move it to the Lake Cove Baptist Church; --will open bids for an electrical system upgrade at Crooked Creek Recreational Park. The park has remained busy this camping season with over 500 campers checking in during July; --received a report from Section 8 housing director Anna Frank that her program has secured 15 emergency housing vouchers to assist homeless families. The program is serving 159 tenants throughout the parish with a maximum of 140 applicants on the waiting list; --approved a capital improvement plan for the parish library and its branches; --took in $417,600 in sales taxes from the 2 percent sales tax in July, a 28 percent increase over the same period a year ago.