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University presidents ensured high-paid jobs for life under “golden parachute” clauses in contracts

Critics call them “golden parachutes.” They’re the lofty protections built into contracts that give university presidents and chancellors a high-paid, back-up position on the faculty at the same institution where they may have been fired. It’s standard operating procedure for university leaders, but it’s a practice that has drawn scrutiny in recent months as… Continue reading →

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards: Voucher cuts product of historic budget crisis -- plain and simple

Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday he proposed cutting state aid for vouchers 14 percent because of Louisiana’s historic financial crisis, not because of any sudden turnaround in his education views. “When you have a large budget deficit, you have to make adjustments,” Edwards told reporters. “It is just a function of arithmetic,” he said later.… Continue reading →

Without dissent, Louisiana Senate says yes to mandating cursive writing

A bill that would require the teaching of cursive writing in public schools won approval Wednesday in the Louisiana Senate. The vote was 37-0. The measure, Senate Bill 275, next faces action in the state House. Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton, has said cursive is needed so students can appreciate historical documents and carry distinctive signatures.… Continue reading →

Ascension board reviews proposed rollout schedule for school projects

Ascension Parish School Board members are reviewing a proposed rollout schedule of design and construction on the first of several projects to be built with bond money from the property tax renewal voters approved earlier this month. Voters in Ascension Parish on April 9 overwhelmingly approved renewal of… Continue reading →

Gov. John Bel Edwards 'lied to me,' voucher advocacy group says in new TV ads

A pro-voucher group is launching statewide television ads that accuse Gov. John Bel Edwards of lying to voters when he promised not to slash state aid for the school assistance. Edwards labeled the accusation blatantly false. The ads, which begin Tuesday in Baton Rouge and elsewhere, feature three unidentified mothers of voucher recipients looking into the… Continue reading →

Facing uncertainty with state funding, Central School Board backs off on construction plans — for now

Despite strong financial reserves and a recent upgrade in its credit rating, the Central School Board on Monday postponed for at least year repaving much of the parking lot at Central High School and buying larger classroom buildings for Bellingrath Hills and Tanglewood elementary schools. The attack of thriftiness was prompted by the possibility of further… Continue reading →

Sacked: Bill to force Louisiana high school sports playoff changes crushed in House vote

A revamped bid to force changes in high school football and other playoffs was crushed Monday in the Louisiana House. The vote was 34 in favor and 51 opposed. The lopsided vote likely ends any effort by the Legislature to get involved in the issue during the current session, which ends June 6.… Continue reading →

Revised Common Core tests spark little debate, no widespread boycotts this year: 'It's a lot quieter'

In a radical change from last year, about 300,000 public schools students Monday begin taking what used to be called the Common Core tests — without any widespread boycotts, political rhetoric or other drama. “It just seems to be an overall calmer environment this year,” said Hollis Milton, president of the Louisiana… Continue reading →

LSU seeks high-demand public dollars -- to tune of $23 million -- for Nicholson Gateway development

Rendering provided to The Advocate -- A streetcar, seen in the background, could tie into a proposed plan for the Nicholson Drive corridor from LSU to downtown Baton Rouge. Two firms have been selected as finalists to redevelop tho old Alex Box Stadium site with student residence halls and retail. LSU officials hope to select which business will head up the public-private partnership in the spring.

LSU is charging ahead with plans to build Nicholson Gateway, a mixed-use development concept that is intended to add much-needed student housing while expanding LSU’s footprint west across Nicholson Drive. Yet the project, which is a public-private partnership, needs an infusion of public dollars to the tune of about $23 million to kick-start construction.… Continue reading →

East Baton Rouge School Board agrees to expand foreign-language immersion program to Polk Elementary

Advocate file photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- The Polk Elementary School campus would become the new home of the Baton Rouge Foreign Language Academic Immersion Magnet under a proposal by East Baton Rouge Parish school Superintendent Bernard Taylor.

A popular foreign language immersion school in downtown Baton Rouge will expand this fall to occupy nearby Polk Elementary, where older students will attend. After a lengthy debate Thursday, the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board voted 8-0 in favor of the idea. Board member Kenyetta Nelson-Smith was absent. Grades kindergarten to second will remain… Continue reading →

Bill to curb charter schools shelved

Gov. John Bel Edwards’ public schools package suffered major setbacks Thursday on two fronts. An Edwards-backed bill aimed at curbing the growth of charter schools was shelved by the sponsor Thursday in a Senate committee amid heavy opposition. In addition, the same sponsor of the governor’s bill to trim access to vouchers all but declared the… Continue reading →

Cursive-writing mandate clears first Louisiana legislative hurdle, but will full Senate follow the script?

Associated Press file photo

Public school students would have to be taught cursive writing starting in August under a bill that breezed through the Louisiana Senate Education Committee on Thursday. The measure, Senate Bill 275, cleared its first hurdle without objection. It next faces action in the full Senate, and an uncertain future. Freshman state Sen. Beth… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge mother banned after bypassing long carpool lines; 'major safety issue,' school official says

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Katy Miletello, left, and her daughter Alaina, 8, at the south edge of the parking lot of the Catholic Life Center, with Baton Rouge Center for the Visual and Performing Arts (BRCVPA) in the background. Katy has been banned for the rest of the year from the popular elementary magnet school, after the principal said Miletello can't come on campus without permission for the rest of the school year, because she violated  the school's new rules when it comes to picking up and dropping off her kid.

A popular arts-focused magnet school in Baton Rouge has banned a parent from campus for the rest of the school year after she intentionally violated a new rule that parents can no longer park nearby and walk their kids onto school grounds. The incident occurred Tuesday, and the parent, Katy Miletello, received her ban letter from… Continue reading →

Gonzales native gets Truman Scholarship

Chauncey Stephens is a LSU Truman Scholar.

Chauncey Stephens, a Gonzales native, said she was shaped by great teachers and excellent educational opportunities growing up in Ascension Parish. But she’s learned that not every child is as lucky as she was, and she’d like to dedicate her life to public service and ensuring more children get the same access and opportunity she did.… Continue reading →

Controversial sex survey bill for Louisiana high school students clears first legislative hurdle

A bill that would allow public high school students to take part in a national survey on sexual risks was approved Wednesday by the Louisiana House Education Committee. The vote was 7-4, and the measure, House Bill 402, next faces action in the full House. State Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge, and sponsor of the bill,… Continue reading →

Bill to lock in TOPS awards flies through committee, heads to House for last hurdle

A bill that could put a cap on TOPS awards, preventing the scholarships from increasing as tuition grows, advanced out of a House committee Wednesday morning and could have just one more hurdle at the Capitol. If the bill escapes the House without amendment, it will head to Gov. John Bel Edwards’ desk. He has indicated… Continue reading →

After LSU fires marching band director, 'shocked' Roy King considers suing school 'he loved'

Photo by RACHEL SALTZBERG -- Count on a dynamic show when LSU Tiger Marching Band Director Roy King directs the Golden Band from Tigerland at Tigerama on Wednesday, Oct. 28.

Roy King, the director of LSU’s Golden Band from Tiger Land, was officially fired on Tuesday, ending a career of almost two decades working with the university’s marching band. King, who was put on administrative leave pending an investigation earlier this month, learned he was terminated via a letter mailed to him from LSU… Continue reading →

LSU’s professor Isiah Warner named best in the SEC

LSU chemistry professor Isiah Warner was recently named the top professor in the Southern Eastern Conference. Warner, a Bunkie native, was recognized as the 2016 SEC Professor of the Year last week — an annual recognition that comes along with a $20,000 honorarium. “On behalf of the 14 SEC presidents and chancellors, I am… Continue reading →

Survey: Ascension’s next schools superintendent should have good communication skills

Some 574 people, largely teachers and parents, sent in their wish list for the top qualities they’d like to see in the next Ascension Parish schools superintendent, the board’s consultant said Thursday. It’s a high number of responses, said Bill Newman with the Ray and Associates search firm, of Iowa, a number… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge charter organization to build five schools, aims to 'transform' educational possibilities

A prominent nonprofit group that has helped lure several charter schools to Baton Rouge announced Thursday it will build facilities for five of these public — but independently run — schools over the next three years, breaking ground on the first one this summer. Chris Meyer, president and CEO of New Schools for Baton Rouge, announced the… Continue reading →

Bills to change TOPS sailing through legislature; one would lock today's dollar value for future awards

Advocate staff photo by CHARLES CHAMPAGNE  —  Incoming freshman and transfer students head to their next STRIPES activity Tuesday, August 11, 2015 on Louisiana State University’s campus. ORG XMIT: BAT1508121038074895

If tuition goes up at Louisiana colleges and universities in future years, for the first time, students who have the TOPS scholarship may have to pay a portion of their own tuition. That’s the gist of Mandeville Republican Sen. Jack Donahue’s TOPS bill, which easily cleared the Senate on Wednesday and is largely expected to become… Continue reading →

Push by governor, others to put new rules on charter schools flops in Louisiana House committee

A bid by Gov. John Bel Edwards and others to curb charter schools fizzled Wednesday. Three such bills were rejected by the Louisiana House Education Committee, including a hotly debated measure that would put a one-year moratorium on state-approved charter schools. Three others were shelved voluntarily by the sponsors, largely because of legislative resistance. The… Continue reading →

BRAC annual education report for Baton Rouge-area school districts notes drop in student performance

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber on Tuesday released its annual Regional Education Report Card, comparing and contrasting school education data for the 2014-15 school year to data from prior years. BRAC annually compiles data, all previously reported, for a nine-parish region — East Baton Rouge and eight contiguous parishes — and the… Continue reading →

Louisiana union leader eyes retirement

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Louisiana Federation of Teachers President Steve Monaghan, right, speaks during discussion of the new set of 'common core' tests that Louisiana schools are moving to, Tuesday before Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) committee meetings at the Claiborne Building in Baton Rouge.

Steve Monaghan, president of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, will be retiring soon after nearly 14 years leading the teachers’ union. Monaghan, who has held the job since 2003, has not announced his last day on the job. However, LFT spokesman Les Landon said Monday, Monaghan will be relying on his staff and executive board more… Continue reading →

Supporters deliver petition backing Tiger Band director Roy King to LSU President, calling for reinstatement

Photo by RACHEL SALTZBERG -- LSU band director Roy King

LSU alumni are lining up in support of Roy King, the director of the Golden Band from Tiger Land, who was put on administrative leave pending an investigation last week. About a dozen people on Monday morning delivered copies of a Change.org petition with more than 1,500 signatures to LSU President F. King Alexander,… Continue reading →

Gov. John Bel Edwards’ bid to curb growth among charter school measures before Legislature this week

State Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge

Efforts to put new rules on charter schools, including Gov. John Bel Edwards’ bid to curb their growth, are about to get initial votes in the Legislature. Up to seven bills dealing with charter schools are set for hearings in the House Education Committee on Wednesday morning. Still more are on Thursday’s agenda for the… Continue reading →

Letter from LSU professor, chancellor emeritus: Here's simple way to reduce TOPS cost, prevent brightest from fleeing Louisiana

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Dr. James Wharton, chancellor emeritus, LSU, makes a motion during a meeting of the La. Postsecondary Education Review Commission in November 2009.

We keep reading in your publication and hearing from the Legislature that the cost of the TOPS program is soaring out of control. Often it is attributed to the increase in enrollment of TOPS students when, in fact, that enrollment increase was only 13.7 percent over the 11-year period from 2003 to 2014. That increase was… Continue reading →

As Louisiana struggles with TOPS funding, bills to reform program pass first hurdle in Senate committee

Advocate staff photo by CHARLES CHAMPAGNE  —  Incoming freshman and transfer students head to their next STRIPES activity Tuesday, August 11, 2015 on Louisiana State University’s campus. ORG XMIT: BAT1508121038074895

A number of bills that would change TOPS scholarships successfully made it through their first hurdle in the Louisiana Senate Education Committee on Thursday — including one that would break the link that automatically increases TOPS awards to match tuition hikes and one that would address the way the awards are divvied out when the… Continue reading →

Bill would require some high school students to attend community college to receive TOPS

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Baton Rouge Community College students pass in front of the school's fountain, as classes classes change Tuesday afternoon, against the backdrop of the school's Governors Building, one of the original campus buildings when the school settled into its current location, in 1998. Classes for the fall semester began Monday at BRCC.

Students earning a 20 on the ACT — who typically could use their state TOPS award to attend any four-year school in the state — would be required to use their scholarship toward a community college under a bill that squeaked through the House Education Committee. House Bill 438 would create another Continue reading →

LSU band director Roy King put on administrative leave; attorney alleges a ‘witch hunt’ over funding

Photo by RACHEL SALTZBERG  -- LSU Tiger Marching Band Director Roy King spends a moment with band members before halftime during the 2014 football season.

The director of LSU’s Golden Band from Tigerland, Roy King, was put on paid administrative leave Wednesday. King has been the athletic marching band director for five years and has worked in the band’s administration for 18. King’s attorney, Jill Craft, called the decision a “travesty.” She said King is the target… Continue reading →

Proposal to expand BR FLAIM language-immersion program on to East Baton Rouge School Board

Advocate staff file photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Christina Pellicero, 10, right, draws a Mayan glyph on the board under the watch of professional artist Jill Hackney, left, as Hackney speaks French as she interacts with fifth graders in teacher Bruno Paquat's class in September at Baton Rouge Foreign Language Academic Immersion Magnet (BR FLAIM), where Hackney is artist in residence. In background, from left, are Emyly Leatherman, 10, and Caroline Smith, 10.

A popular foreign language immersion school in downtown Baton Rouge would expand from its campus to nearby Polk Elementary, where older students would attend under a proposal preliminarily approved Tuesday night. The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board voted unanimously in favor of the idea Tuesday. The board will take up the proposal for final approval… Continue reading →

Hot topic: Iberville School Board debating proposal to control board members’ social media posts

It remains unclear whether the Iberville Parish School Board will include board members under the school system’s social media policy, which regulates how school district employees can use websites like Facebook. What did become clear Monday night was that the board members who feel targeted by the effort have very little intention… Continue reading →