LPSB reviews resources and receives hopeful report on Post-COVID school performance

Photo Credit: Vincent Grisby

By Vincent Grisby

The Lincoln Parish School Board met for its monthly meaning Tuesday, Dec. 6, at 6 p.m. Other than routine housekeeping items, this meeting’s primary agenda items included motions to considering the renewal of a corporate endeavor agreement with the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, and for the consideration of proposals for the purchase of interactive digital playgrounds.

“This is something we do every year, in terms of renewing that agreement,” Lincoln Parish Superintendent Ricky Durrett said. “They’re very involved with helping us with Adopt-a-School in a lot of different areas, which is why I’d ask you to accept this motion for cooperative support,”

The next motion second motion was an authorization for the school board to consider proposals and recommendations for the purchase of interactive digital playgrounds. Chief Financial Officer Juanita Duke stated that digital playgrounds could be funded with Title 1 funds.

“We have carryover funds from the previous year that are available to do this,” Duke said. “Hopefully we’ll find [these playgrounds] will provide a service that will actually offer a service that will hep support more interactive play and gamified play, increasing physical activity, and also learning cross-curriculum instruction embedded within the applications that are within those units.”

Both motions passed with unanimous support.

After new business, the rest of the meeting was taken up by Chief Academic Officer Dana Talley’s reports on the annual assessment grades of parish schools. She highlighted the almost universal improvement in scores among schools, including Ruston High School’s near-total recovery of pre-pandemic assessment— a struggle for school districts across the country.

Further, Hillcrest and Glenview were upgraded to “B” schools. Talley noted that in their assessment of school performance that conditions and standards changed as the assessment program has been refined over time:
“The State Department has added components to the accountability system, that we can
calculate at the K2 level. One is how our English learners are doing with an assessment that they
take. And two is interest and opportunities”.

By way of good news, Talley also noted that with Choudrant Elementary’s current trend of year- over-year improvement, (in light of laster year’s massive 8 point growth) Choudrant High School should be able to cross the 0.7-point gap between a “B” score and “A” score. To close her report, Talley offered an optimistic outlook on the performance of Simsboro High School, whichremains 3.5 points from an “A” score.”

“Now [Simsboro High School] declined,” Talley noted, “and so I can’t stand up here with as much confidence to say, oh yeah they’re going to go for declining 1.3 points to growing 3.5 points, but I really feel like they will. I feel they’re on the right track, and I feel like some of the reasons they decreased have been addressed, and we’ll be moving in another direction with that.”

She noted optimistically that our the districts “C” schools, Cypress Springs and Ruston Elementary remain 1.4 and 1.7 points from a “B” grade, respectively. Ruston Junior High maintains a slight larger gap, at 4.4 points to a “B” grade.

Talley added “even though we have two A’s, four B’s and the rest ‘C’s’ I think you’re gonna see that shift pretty considerably for the next school year.”

Mr. Durrett closed the meeting on an optimistic note. After congratulating Ruston High School on its successful season and reminding the board that classes would be canceled for all schools in the district, and wishing them luck at the Superdome, the superintendent closed with heartfelt words thanking departing members Lisa Best and Susan Wiley.

Said Durrett: “I wanted to take just a few minutes to first just thank [Susan Wiley] for her eight years of service to the Lincoln Parish School Board and all she’s done to help our kids and support our kids.” He continued, “Ms. Best is our last one after 22 years, we appreciate all those years and what you’ve meant to our system and our schools. You’ve meant so much to our system and our schools, always being supportive of what’s going on, so thank you.”