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Healthcare premiums for Central school system employees: some to see increase, others a decrease

Starting Sept. 1, health insurance premiums for employees of the Central school system will increase an average of 4.5 percent overall, but those who pay to cover only themselves will pay less than they do now. The premium changes were the only change the Central School Board made Monday to its health insurance. Minnesota-based… Continue reading →

State’s youngest students getting focus in drive for higher scores

Louisiana’s latest push to improve student achievement will focus in part on why some of the state’s youngest students are failing to master basic skills. “Elementary school leaders have expressed concern that students too frequently arrive in the third grade not prepared for success, and that there is not academic clarity in the early grades,” according to… Continue reading →

Layoffs, program cuts in mix as Louisiana public schools take ‘devastating’ hit amid budget mess

Debbie Meaux (Photo by Travis Spradling, The Advocate) ORG XMIT: BAT1604201607275291

State aid for about 720,000 public school students in Louisiana is about to take its first nosedive in decades. Layoffs, crowded classrooms and program cuts all are in the mix, said Debbie Meaux, president of the Louisiana Association of Educators, and other education leaders. School districts will have $24 million less in the coming year… Continue reading →

LSU, SU boards give blessing to becoming growers of medical marijuana

The LSU and Southern University agricultural centers both officially have signed on to be the state’s growers of medical marijuana. On Friday, both system boards independently approved measures to pursue licensing, which will make Louisiana’s public universities the first in the country to be authorized as the sole growers and researchers for the state.… Continue reading →

'Front loaded' TOPS isn’t fully funded next year; here’s how that shakes out for students

The Advocate file photo: Student make their way around LSU's campus on Field House Drive.

For the first time, a TOPS scholarship will not cover the cost of tuition for students attending Louisiana’s public colleges and universities. The Louisiana Legislature on Thursday passed a budget for the upcoming school year that does not fully fund the $300 million Taylor Opportunity Program for Students. The state is funding the program at… Continue reading →

Grambling’s president resigns after less than year on the job

Willie D. Larkin

Less than a full year in the job, Grambling State University President Willie Larkin has resigned. Larkin announced his resignation following an annual personnel evaluation at the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors meeting on Thursday. At the meeting, Larkin and the presidents of Louisiana Tech and the University of Louisiana at Monroe were all evaluated… Continue reading →

Key boards endorse Louisiana teacher training overhaul in rare joint meeting

The two boards that oversee public schools and higher education Wednesday signed off on a plan that would make sweeping changes in teacher training. The key feature of the overhaul would require teachers to undergo a one-year apprenticeship as a student-teacher, compared with 10-15 weeks now. Backers say improving teacher quality will boost student achievement.… Continue reading →

BESE gives green light to review of science standards, among oldest in U.S.

The state’s top school board Tuesday endorsed a potentially controversial review of science standards in Louisiana’s public schools. The benchmarks used today were crafted in 1997, and they are the third oldest in the nation. Under the plan, a 31-member committee will oversee the revisions with the assistance of three subcommittees. Work sessions are set… Continue reading →

Do vouchers save Louisiana money? Legislature to get revised report after dispute over wording

The state Department of Education will resubmit a required report to the Legislature after controversy over purported claims that vouchers save the state money, officials said Tuesday. The decision stems from complaints by a member of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education that the original report would make lawmakers conclude that spending more on vouchers… Continue reading →

As a matter of pride, Baton Rouge’s Lee High still to be known, unofficially, as Lee Magnet High

The school board voted to officially shorten the school's name to Lee High School.

Even though the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board last week officially shortened Robert E. Lee High to just Lee High, a slightly longer name that many parents and students prefer, Lee Magnet High School, is in no danger of going away. “The parents take pride in saying ‘Lee Magnet High School,’ and you… Continue reading →

Transgender issues, particularly bathrooms, uncharted territory for most Louisiana school administrators

Photo provided by Marshall Childs -- A sign on a restroom door at Salisbury University in Maryland includes those who are transgender.

As state and federal leaders feud over whether transgender students should be able to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity, public educators in Louisiana say they are just beginning to grapple with an issue that is brand new to many of them. Hollis Milton, superintendent for West Feliciana Parish and president… Continue reading →

Charter schools drops two grades, could provide school space for East Baton Rouge’s expelled students

A north Baton Rouge charter school’s decision to stop offering seventh and eighth grades may provide a home for a Baton Rouge school for expelled students. J.K. Haynes Charter Middle School,which opened in fall 2014, informed parents as the school year was ending in May that it was discontinuing those two grades. Attorney… Continue reading →

Middle schools in East Baton Rouge to face staffing cuts after School Board trims $15 million from the budget

With little debate, the East Baton Rouge School Board on Thursday approved an almost $452 million general operating budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year. School officials have trimmed about $15 million in expenses, including cutting dozens of teaching positions, particularly in middle schools. The final vote on the 350-page document was 7-0. Board… Continue reading →

The same, yet different: Close vote officially cuts ‘Robert E.’ from Lee High School

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- The front facade of the new Lee High School, which is nearing the finish line of a $54.7 million demolition and reconstruction project and is set to open in August. The school will more than double in size and will be able to hold nearly 1,200 students once done, with some room to expand in the future.

Splitting along racial lines, the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board on Thursday changed the name of Robert E. Lee High School in Baton Rouge to just Lee High School, falling short of the demands of black leaders who pressed for a name with no connection to the Confederate general. Board members were unable to agree… Continue reading →

Central School Board awards bid on demolition of remaining buildings at former Central Middle School

Some of the last remaining buildings at the former Central Middle School will start coming down in July, preparing the way for the future City Hall for Central. The Central School Board voted unanimously Monday to hire ARC Abatement 1 Ltd. to handle the demolition, which should be complete by the end of September. ARC’s $270,500… Continue reading →

As Louisiana lawmakers debate issue, 'real people' fret over future of school vouchers in private schools

Like lots of parents, Latoya Johnson is anxious about whether her two sons will get state vouchers for classes in private schools that start in August. At the urging of Gov. John Bel Edwards, the Legislature has approved a 14 percent cut in money for the program because of state budget problems. That means some… Continue reading →

More than a name? Debate over Lee High never seriously considered before

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- The front facade of the new Lee High School, which is nearing the finish line of a $54.7 million demolition and reconstruction project and is set to open in August. The school will more than double in size and will be able to hold nearly 1,200 students once done, with some room to expand in the future.

Despite unease among some East Baton Rouge Parish School Board members about a public high school bearing the name of a prominent Confederate, the board over the past decade has barely discussed, much less taken decisive action to change the name of Robert E. Lee High School. Members kept their silence despite multiple opportunities to address the elephant… Continue reading →

Inside look at Mike the Tiger's cancer treatment: Mascot showing huge improvement but prognosis still grim

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSUÕs live tiger mascot, Mike VI, has been diagnosed with a spindle cell sarcoma, a type of cancer. Currently, MikeÕs attitude and demeanor are unchanged, and he does not appear to be in pain. MikeÕs veterinarian, David Baker, DVM, Ph.D., listens to the question at a press conference about the tiger's condition Monday morning May 23, 2016.

LSU’s live tiger mascot Mike VI was on the brink of death because of a large, lemon-sized tumor found last month in his face, but just a week after his radiation therapy, the beloved big cat is showing significant improvement, his doctor said. The swelling in Mike’s face that displaced his… Continue reading →

Livingston School Board set to promote one of its assistant superintendents to lead the school system

Rick Wentzel

The Livingston Parish School Board on Thursday gave the nod to an insider, one of its assistant superintendents, to lead the school system. The board, at its June 16 meeting, will finalize the decision to promote Assistant Superintendent Rick Wentzel. The board made the recommendation after interviewing Wentzel and three other… Continue reading →

Southdowns? Lee Magnet? Strong opinions differ on whether to rename Baton Rouge’s Robert E. Lee High

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Ncingha Shabaka stands up in support of Pastor Ralph Nea Moore during a heated discussion within a community meeting to discuss the renaming of Lee High, Thursday, June 9, 2016, in Baton Rouge, La.

Supporters of changing the name of Robert E. Lee High School in Baton Rouge got a chance Thursday to speak their piece, but they were joined by a strong contingent of alumni who pressed to retain the school’s connection to the Confederate general. “I know all you people in this room are not racists, but Lee… Continue reading →

Iberville School Board taps retired Pointe Coupee superintendent Linda D’Amico as its interim school leader

Advocate staff file photo by  Mark Saltz  -- Linda D'Amico, in Aug. 4, 2009.

The Iberville Parish School Board on Wednesday appointed former Pointe Coupee Parish schools Superintendent Linda D’Amico to serve as its interim superintendent while the board searches for a new leader for the school district. The board’s unanimous decision came after it accepted the resignation of its current superintendent, Ed Cancienne, who is… Continue reading →

Forum to solicit suggestions for new name of Baton Rouge’s Lee High to be tightly controlled, school district says

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- The front facade of the new Lee High School, which is nearing the finish line of a $54.7 million demolition and reconstruction project and is set to open in August. The school will more than double in size and will be able to hold nearly 1,200 students once done, with some room to expand in the future.

A community forum planned for Thursday night to solicit new names for the possible renaming of Robert E. Lee High School in Baton Rouge will operate under tight rules, said a spokeswoman for the East Baton Rouge Parish school system. Adonica Duggan, chief of communications and public relations, said the meeting, which is scheduled to start at… Continue reading →

By reopening superintendent search, Ascension School Board likely to miss July 1 target date to fill the position

After rejecting the three finalists for superintendent by a 7-4 vote Tuesday and reopening the search, the Ascension Parish School Board may miss its July 1 target date to have a new superintendent in place before school starts Aug. 8. School Board President Pat Russo said Wednesday the position will need to be… Continue reading →

St. James School Board approves $195,000 contract with new superintendent Ed Cancienne, brushes off ethics allegations

Ed Cancienne

The St. James Parish School Board approved a four-year, $195,000 contract Tuesday for newly hired Superintendent P. Edward Cancienne Jr., brushing off allegations from their former interim superintendent of ethics violations by board members and his request they delay approving the deal until June 28. The contract pays Cancienne, who is leaving his… Continue reading →

Ending 34-month battle, Edwards, lawmakers endorse Common Core revisions

Advocate Photo by MARK BALLARD -- The Louisiana House and Senate Education committees heard testimony Tuesday on revisions to the long-debated Common Core academic standards. Senate Education Committee Chair Dan "Blade" Morrish, R-Jennings, and House Education Committee Chair Nancy Landry, R-Lafayette, sit on the raised back row dais. Also considering testimony, front to back, are Sen. Bodi White, R-Central, Rep. Julie Emerson, R-Carencro, Rep. Reid Falconer, R-Mandeville, and Rep. Rick Edmonds, R-Baton Rouge.

Gov. John Bel Edwards endorsed revisions in the Common Core academic standards Tuesday, ending a 34-month controversy that divided the Legislature, state leaders and Louisiana’s top school board. Edwards took the action shortly after the House and Senate education committees approved the changes after a hearing devoid of the anger and passion that dominated so many previous… Continue reading →

College sponsored National Merit Scholarship winners in Baton Rouge area announced

The National Merit Scholarship Corp. announced approximately 3,000 winners of National Merit Scholarships financed by U.S. colleges and universities, with 19 from the Baton Rouge area. Officials from each sponsor college selected their scholarship winners from among the finalists in the 2016 National Merit Scholarship Program who plan to attend their… Continue reading →

Former LSU chancellor James Wharton defends TOPS as valuable investment for Louisiana

Photo by Patrick Dennis

As lawmakers in recent weeks have lamented the growing cost of TOPS to the state, one former LSU chancellor stressed the benefits the scholarship program has yielded for the state. James Wharton, LSU’s chancellor from 1981 to 1988 and a current board member of the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation, told the Baton Rouge Press Club on Monday… Continue reading →

Education panels set to vote on Common Core revisions

In possibly the next-to-last step, the Louisiana House and Senate education committees are scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to endorse proposed revisions in the Common Core academic standards. The meeting, which is set for 1 p.m., is required under legislation passed last year aimed at ending controversy over the revised benchmarks in reading, writing and math.… Continue reading →

Louisiana public schools face millions in cuts for first time in decades; what it means for teachers, students

For the first time in decades, state aid for public schools may actually take a dive. Under current plans, Louisiana’s 69 school districts face a $44 million cut for the 2016-17 school year amid state budget problems. What it would mean, education officials said, is layoffs in some areas, pay cuts for teachers in… Continue reading →

East Baton Rouge coroner says ‘perfect storm’ contributing to heroin epidemic in capital region

Advocate photo by CAROLINE OURSO   Kristie Searcy, a second-year medical student at LSU Health Sciences Center Shreveport, spoke to East Baton Rouge Coroner Beau Clark after his lecture on EBRs heroin epedimic at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center on Saturday.

East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Dr. Beau Clark gave a group of parents and teachers a sobering talk Saturday on the heroin and synthetic marijuana epidemics that he says have exploded in the capital region the past few years. Speaking at the third annual I Care symposium, an East Baton Rouge schools program geared toward… Continue reading →

Louisiana’s education chief asks courts to block public records requests, claims release of data may violate student privacy rights

Advocate staff file photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Louisiana Education Superintendent John White speakng on April 15, 2016 at Rougon Elementary School in Pointe Coupee Parish.

Education activists James Finney and Mike Deshotels have proven to be thorns in the side of state Education Superintendent John White and the Louisiana Department of Education, filing a plethora of public records requests the past several years and even suing White and the department in their quests for records relating to standardized testing data. Now,… Continue reading →

Action on $7M for Louisiana public schools delayed amid money worries

Legislation that would provide public school districts with about $7 million for enrollment growth was temporarily shelved Friday, this time over a possible spat between the Louisiana Legislature and Attorney General Jeff Landry. School officials have said that, unless the aid is approved, districts will be forced to return the money to the state even… Continue reading →

What’s in a name? East Baton Rouge School Board, residents debate changing name of Lee High

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- The front facade of the new Lee High School, which is nearing the finish line of a $54.7 million demolition and reconstruction project and is set to open in August. The school will more than double in size and will be able to hold nearly 1,200 students once done, with some room to expand in the future.

The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board on Thursday barely kept alive a request by Lee High School parents to rename the school while preserving the name “Lee,” facing down a barrage of complaints that the Baton Rouge school should have no connection to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The board voted 5-3 to consider again… Continue reading →