PORT ALLEN — Thousands of children in West Baton Rouge, Iberville and Pointe Coupee parishes kicked off their 2012-13 school year Friday.
West Baton Rouge Parish School Superintendent David Corona said the Friday start date gave faculty and staff the opportunity to get a lot of administrative functions, such as locker and textbook assignments, out of the way and allowed parents an entire weekend to purchase school supplies.
“On Monday we can start with good, solid instruction,” he said.
More than 11,000 students throughout the three parishes headed back to classrooms on Friday, officials said. Each of the three districts gained from 50 to 100 students for the 2012-13 school year.
The Iberville Parish School District grew the most, increasing enrollment from 4,505 students last year to 4,600 for the new school year, officials said.
Around this time last year, Pointe Coupee had 2,825 students enrolled. As of Friday, 2,919 students were registered with the school district, officials said.
Corona said there were approximately 3,800 students enrolled in West Baton Rouge Parish schools on Friday. That number was expected to fluctuate during the first few weeks of school, he added.
The district underwent a “modest” increase compared with the 2011 enrollment figures, Corona said. He said around 3,750 students attended classes in the district last year.
“I’d much rather have manageable growth rather than an influx,” he said. “It helps with school stability.”
Cohn Elementary Principal Cassy Brou greeted nearly all of her students with hugs and a cheery “Welcome back!” on Friday morning as they filed off school buses or were dropped off on campus by their parents.
Brou said Friday marked the first time she wouldn’t be seeing any new faces at the start of the school year because the campus has new grade levels.
“We reconfigured our grade levels from second through fourth grade to third through fifth this year,” Brou said. “So we’re looking at a curriculum that’s a little different. That will be a little confusing to teachers, but they will know all their students when they walk in the door.”
Corona said the district was able to add about 55 new teachers to its roster this year through grant funding and attrition.
Iberville Parish School Superintendent Ed Cancienne said his district hired about 10 new teachers to help ease the stress of overcrowded classrooms confronting some instructors last year.
Cancienne said the district’s focus in 2012-13 will be improving the passing rate for eighth-graders taking the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program test in the spring.
Cancienne said the district has redesigned its math, English and language arts curricula to address the issue.
“We know we need to move these students forward,” he said. “Our goal is to coincide with state goals.”
Cancienne’s sentiments were shared by Pointe Coupee School Superintendent Linda D’Amico, who said her district held three days of professional development activities for teachers, faculty and staff to help ease their transition into handling the new state standards.
The district welcomed approximately 30 new teachers this year.
“We did initial training to show teachers how the transition will take place between the Louisiana curriculum and the changeover to the Common Core curriculum,” she said. “Our children can’t be successful if they aren’t taught the curriculum they’re going to be tested on.”
Common Core State Standards define what students at every grade level need to learn in English, language arts and math to be prepared for studies beyond high school.
Students will be measured by the new standards in the 2014-15 school year.