BESE officers re-elected, new exec chosen
At its December meeting, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education selected Shan Davis as the new executive director. Davis, who has worked for the Department of Education for the past five years, replaces Heather Cope, who left to work in the Camden, New Jersey public school system.
The board voted to retain its current set of officers: President Chas Roemer, Vice President James Garvey and Secretary Holly Boffy.
Majority of LEAs failing instructional requirement are charters
Of the 22 Local education Agencies that failed to meet state a requirement that 70 percent of the budget be spent on classroom instruction, 14 were charter schools, according to a report given to BESE members.
Lacking in this year’s report was a prior history showing which agencies failed to meet the requirement in prior years, and by how much they missed the mark.
Included in the list of charters failing to meet the target was Kenilworth Science and Technology Charter School which had its files seized by the FBI a year ago.
For a complete list of LEAs failing to meet the 70 percent requirement, please click here.
Teacher attrition rate reported
BESE heard a report that the attrition rate for teachers has remained fairly constant for the past three years. From 2013 to 2014, some 12 percent of teachers left the profession, according to the Department of Education. That was the same percentage as in 2012-13 and slightly higher than the 11 percent who left in 2011-12.
LFT Legislative Director Mary Patricia Wray said the union is concerned that the way the data are reported is not useful in determining how to better recruit and retain highly qualified teachers.
Almost 6,500 teachers participated in the exit survey, which is required thanks to legislation introduced by the LFT several years ago. Only one percent of the teachers interviewed said that their salary was the main reason for leaving.
The most cited reasons for leaving the classroom were retirement (28 percent) and moving to administrative jobs (23 percent),
BESE Member Lottie Beebe of St. Martin Parish said that teachers are “spinning like a top” because of recent reform initiatives, prompting many to retire.
New child care licensing regulations adopted
BESE approved a new set of regulations for the licensure of child care centers following an often testy three-hour debate.
Despite objections from child-care advocates, the board approved an 11:1 ratio of employees to children in the centers. There were questions as to whether one teacher is adequate to watch over 11 two-year olds.
Also contentious was a move to give child care directors more control over the type of professional development given to employees. In response, state officials said that previous rules will be retained, directing day care providers to have 12 hours of professional development from department-approved experts every year.
Milestone Academy given deadline to find new site
The troubled Milestone Academy in Jefferson Parish was given a March deadline to find a new location or face revocation of its charter.
The school, which was chartered by the state, is currently housed in a Jefferson Parish School Board building, but that board has other uses for the site. In October, Superintendent John White said the school should find a new location by December.
But White said the school is now in negotiations with the Archdiocese of New Orleans to lease a building, and the March deadline was approved.
Milestone has been rated as a “D” school by the state for four years, but White said the school’s academic performance is not the subject of debate at this time.
All of the other non-public schools up for approval were given the nod by BESE, including three that were identified as being granted “non-accredited approval. It was given to The Emerge Center in East Baton Rouge Parish, The Church Academy in Ascension Parish and Emmanuel Seventh Day Adventist School in Tangipahoa Parish.
BESE deferred a request from the New Orleans Maritime Academy to waive parts of Bulletin 111 which include an ACT index in the School Performance Score calculation. Because one of the four students who took the ACT this year did poorly on the test, the school’s SPS dropped from a “B” to a “C.”
To PARCC or not to PARCC?
At the request of Dr. Beebe, an item was added to the BESE agenda to clarify the source of spring 2015 assessments to be administered to third through eighth graders. She said she wanted to make it clear that the tests announced for next spring are not provided by the PARCC consortium, but will come from the same testing company contracted by the state for years.
Superintendent White confirmed that the company used by the state is not associated with PARCC to create the consortium's Common Core-aligned tests. That means Louisiana will not be among the 10 states plus District of Columbia that administer actual PARCC tests this spring.