Beebe prepares to take helm

As she prepares to lead the St. Martin Parish school system beginning July 1, Superintendent-elect Lottie Beebe will start meeting with community leaders and School Board members next month to share her goals for the upcoming school year.

The discussions will include how to deal with state-mandated educational reforms.

“We need the community to be behind us to show their support,” Beebe said. “We hope they’re not enticed to buy into a quick fix.”

The meetings will also be a venue to educate the public on changes to the state’s accountability system, such as the inclusion of ACT scores, an exam previously only taken by college-bound high school students, she said.

As the shift is made and other testing mechanisms are phased out, the district may experience a decline in performance scores, Beebe said.

“Are we actually comparing apples to apples? The answer is no,” she said. “From the public perception, it would appear that we are declining in performance, when in reality, it’s the shift in accountability.”

On Jan. 9, Beebe and two other candidates, Daniel Rawls, a principal at Stephensville Elementary; and Charles Michel, special education supervisor in Lafourche Parish, were interviewed for the job. Beebe received the support of seven School Board members: Steve Fuselier, Wanda Babin, Aaron Flegeance, James Blanchard, Robert Hollier, Richard Potier and Floyd Knott.

Russel Foti and Mark Hebert voted for Rawls and board member Frederic Stelly Jr. abstained.

Beebe will replace Richard Lavergne, who will retire June 30 after leading the district for six years.

Lavergne, who wrote Beebe a letter of recommendation for the job, has been her mentor, she said.

“I will be relying on his knowledge and expertise,” she said. “He and I have had a great working relationship. He has given me the autonomy to start looking toward the future. He’s been very encouraging.”

Beebe has 28 years of experience in education, starting as a classroom teacher at Palmetto Elementary in St. Landry Parish. She’s currently the school district’s human resources director.

In 2011, Beebe was selected as the District 3 member on the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and began her four-year term last year.

As a BESE member and in her role as a district official, Beebe has been a vocal opponent of state-led education reforms involving measuring school performance and teacher effectiveness.

Despite her opposition, Beebe said she is prepared to guide the district through the implementation of the reforms.

“In St. Martin Parish we are going to do 100-plus percent, whatever it takes for us to succeed,” she said. “We’re going to put forth our best effort knowing the cards are stacked against us.”

“We need the community to be behind us to show their support,” Beebe said. “We hope they’re not enticed to buy in to a quick fix.”

Beebe said the district is prepared to offer families more educational options that will enable them to choose their local public schools. She said details of those plans will be disclosed at a later date, but an expansion of the district’s virtual learning school, which opened in August 2012, is likely.

On Friday, Beebe continued her work as human resources director with a full day of interviews with school social worker candidates.

Beebe said she’s already organized a team of district supervisors and directors to help her with her transition by reviewing district needs, programming and the current organizational structure. Changes are coming, she said, but they won’t be drastic.

“There are going to be some minor changes. I’ve been a part of the district. I recognize our strengths and our areas of concern,” Beebe said. “I pledged to the board that I will do my best to move this system forward recognizing that the team approach is necessary.”