Lafayette board to reconsider school calendar

Though it approved the 2013-14 calendar earlier this month, the Lafayette Parish School Board may tweak the calendar this week to add more teacher professional development days and reinstate a requested 30-minute intervention period for struggling students.

The board is scheduled to meet at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

At its April 17 meeting, the board, in a 5-4 vote, rejected a proposal that reduced the number of instructional days from 180 to 170 by adding instructional minutes to the day to build in 10 days of professional development for teachers and school personnel and the intervention period.

Rather than approve the proposed calendar, the board approved board member Tommy Angelle’s recommendation of 176 classroom days, leaving four days for professional development in the calendar and removed the 30-minute intervention. Two parent-teacher conference days are also a part of the calendar.

Now, board member Hunter Beasley is asking his fellow board members to restore the intervention and two professional development days for a 174 instructional day calendar.

Beasley said Monday that he did not initially support the proposed intervention period because its implementation at schools wasn’t “clearly defined.” After discussing how the model is implemented in another school district, Beasley said he thinks it could be successful in Lafayette Parish.

“I think it gives the core subject teachers the opportunity to help the kids that they teach virtually every day during that particular 30-minute period,” he said.

Beasley said his proposal provides six professional development days, rather than the four approved by the board, and described the proposal in an email to board members as a “compromise.”

It’s the second compromise Beasley has offered as the board has weighed Central Office staff’s concerns about teacher training on statewide curriculum changes and other educational reforms and teachers’ worries that they’re losing face time with students.

At the April 17 meeting, Beasley initially proposed the addition of three classroom days into the calendar for a 173 instructional-day calendar, however, Angelle provided the substitute motion that won the board’s approval.

Prior to the board’s vote, Superintendent Pat Cooper and Assistant Superintendent Sandra Billeaudeau appealed to board members to reconsider their proposed changes.

“I think the 173 would work for us. It’s a compromise,” Cooper told the board after Angelle made his substitute motion. “I think (with) the 176, we would be betraying our teachers and our kids.”

Board members Beasley, Angelle, Greg Awbrey, Rae Trahan and Tehmi Chassion supported the 176-classroom-day calendar and the removal of the 30-minute intervention. Board members Mark Allen Babineaux, Kermit Bouillion, Shelton Cobb and Mark Cockerham voted against Angelle’s motion.