Changes on horizon for Creswell

Discussions will soon begin between officials with the Recovery School District and St. Landry Parish School Board over the state’s takeover of Creswell Elementary School for the 2013-14 school year, Recovery School District Superintendent Patrick Dobard said Friday.

The school is being taken over due to four years of low performance scores that placed the school on the state’s list of academically unacceptable schools for failure to meet minimum accountability requirements. Schools taken over remain under state oversight for at least five years.

“Dramatic changes” will be implemented at the school in the 2013-14 school year, but the extent of the School Board’s involvement in the future operation of the school has not been determined, Dobard said. When the RSD takes over a school, it could be directly run by the RSD, a charter operator or a “shared success agreement” may be reached between the RSD and the local School Board, Robard explained. He added that school closure is an option.

“We’re still in the very early stages,” Dobard said. “We’re open to conversations with the board around that. We always want to see something that will be dramatically different to transform that school.”

The first step was an official notification sent to the school district last week of the takeover, Dobard said.

James Cassimere, interim superintendent of St. Landry Parish Schools, notified the School Board of the 2013-14 takeover at the board’s meeting Thursday.

Efforts to reach Cassimere for comment were unsuccessful Friday afternoon.

In September, Cassimere recommended that the School Board consider reconstituting the school and making it a virtual academy. At the time, the board voted 7-4 to keep the school open after an appeal from the school’s principal not to disrupt students’ academic year that started in August.

Creswell’s performance scores have been on the decline in the past few years with scores of 57.6 in 2008-09, 57.2 in 2009-10, 55.6 in 2010-11 and 54.5 in 2011-12, according to Louisiana Department of Education data.

Until a few years ago, schools had to score at least a 60 out of a possible 200 points to stay off the state’s academically unacceptable list. However, in 2011, the minimum rose to 65. It’s now at 75.

Last school year, only 39 percent of Creswell students performed at or above grade level in English and only 33 percent performed at or above grade level in math, according to state data.

Dobard said parents should expect a determination about the school’s future by early spring. He said parents can be assured that “something dramatically different” will be in store for the school next year.