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‘This is a whole new day in terms of how we communicate’ — East Baton Rouge School System designing new websites

Photo provided by EBRSB -- The East Baton Rouge Schools have redesigned their website.

The East Baton Rouge Parish school system is going live Wednesday with a revamped website, one in a series of moves the state’s second-largest school district is taking to compete with the growing number of independent charter and private schools. Also on tap are individual websites for the district’s 70-plus schools, testimonial videos from parents and… Continue reading →

Central School Board declines settlement offer sought by family of student kicked out over residency questions

The Central School Board went behind closed doors Monday night but took no action on a $750,000 settlement offer from the family of a 14-year-old girl whom a judge in October ordered re-enrolled in Central High after the school kicked her out for allegedly not living in Central. After the meeting, Superintendent Michael Faulk said he… Continue reading →

Ascension Parish assistant Denise Graves recommended as interim superintendent during national search

A longtime Ascension Parish school system employee, who is also one of two assistant superintendents, has been recommended to be the district’s interim superintendent after Patrice Pujol retires March 1. Denise Graves, who serves as an assistant schools superintendent along with Steve Westbrook, was recommended by the School Board’s executive… Continue reading →

Gov. John Bel Edwards' spat over Common Core with AG heats up

Advocate Photo by MARSHA SHULER -- Jeff Landry, a former congressman from New Iberia, received the endorsement Tuesday of the Louisiana Republican Party in his bid to unseat fellow Republican Buddy Caldwell, the incumbent state Attorney General. Landry is flanked by his wife, Sharon, his 10-year-old son, J.T., and Roger Villere, chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party.

The five-day-old spat between Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry over a Common Core lawsuit escalated Monday. Landry, in a “Dear John” letter to the governor, repeated his view that he — not Edwards — has the final call on whether to drop an anti-Common Core challenge filed by… Continue reading →

Revised Common Core heads to BESE vote

Louisiana’s top school board, the site of months of arguments over Common Core, is the next stop for recommended changes in the always contentious reading, writing and math standards. Last week, after five months of work, a 26-member panel overwhelmingly approved changes in the benchmarks that have sparked sporadic controversy for 29 months. About one in… Continue reading →

Maintenance at LSU severely lacks after years of budget slashing; 'deterioration' labeled 'disgusting'

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING --Planks of plywood cover bad sections of floor in the basement at LSU's  Middleton Library, where deferred maintenance means dealing with bad conditions from water leaks and floor issues. Shelves are stored at right, in a section not being used for archived materials.

When it rains outside Middleton Library on LSU’s campus, it rains inside, too. A group of employees with offices in the basement know to bring their rain boots in heavy storms because the water creeps downward, penetrating the walls, dripping through the ceiling lights and pooling around their feet as they walk around their office space.… Continue reading →

Harold Boudreaux back as McKinley High boys basketball coach after injunction granted — full hearing on Thursday

Advocate staff file photo by JOHN OUBRE -- McKinley boys basketball coach Harold Boudreaux in January 2015

Harold Boudreaux was back on the sideline Friday night as the McKinley High School boys basketball coach, thanks to an injunction granted earlier in the week. The injunction, granted by Judge Timothy Kelley, of the 19th Judicial District, on Tuesday, will allow Boudreaux to coach again this Tuesday when the Panthers travel to Dutchtown High School for… Continue reading →

East Baton Rouge School Board struggles with school construction: Broadmoor may move to head of the list; more research urged for upcoming projects

The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board on Thursday recommended moving forward with the rebuilding of Broadmoor Elementary School and placing the project at the front of the line for new school construction. Thursday’s vote, which is likely to be ratified when the board holds its regular meeting Feb. 18, would place Broadmoor Elementary ahead of… Continue reading →

North Baton Rouge public school teacher recognized by national foundation, paper company

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING --  A still-shocked Chandra Delone, left,  a second grade teacher at Crestworth Elementary, holds her gift and applauds as Taylor Bandzul, right, from Georgia-Pacific's corporate office in Atlanta, shows the school's students their gifts, one of many pencil and eraser-filled pouches, after Delone's surprise recognition as a 'Teacher Hero' by the Kids In Need Foundation and Georgia-Pacific, Thursday at the school. In the background, representatives of Georgia-Pacific and the Kids In Need Foundation display some of the 1400 reams of copy paper that Georgia-Pacific gifted to the school in Delone's honor. Delone has contributed funds of her own for the the past 10 years to help her second grade students, and is also the school's Teacher of the Year. She is holding a box with her gift from Georgia-Pacific, an engraved crystal paperweight, in shape of an apple, of course.

Chandra Delone says she prefers to be behind the scenes, out of the spotlight. For the past 11 years, this elementary school teacher has quietly devoted her life to educating the children who attend Crestworth Elementary School. The Kids in Need Foundation and Georgia-Pacific, however, had other ideas. On Thursday, the national foundation, which… Continue reading →

Thomas Galligan new LSU Law Center chief

The next leader of LSU’s Paul M. Hebert Law Center will be Thomas Galligan Jr., who serves as president of Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire and will be returning to Baton Rouge after having taught at the campus 18 years ago. Galligan was named dean of the LSU Law Center on Thursday and will start July 1.… Continue reading →

Louisiana school vouchers cripple academic achievement, national report says

Advocate staff file photo by BRYAN TUCK -- School buses parked outside a school in Lafayette.

One of former Gov. Bobby Jindal’s signature education laws is actually hurting student achievement, according to a national report that is sparking controversy. Louisiana students who get state-financed vouchers to attend private schools suffer more academically than if they had remained in a troubled public school, says a review done for the National… Continue reading →

Gov. John Bel Edwards orders state to drop anti-Common Core lawsuit

Gov. John Bel Edwards directed the state Thursday to drop a federal lawsuit challenging Common Core that was pushed by former Gov. Bobby Jindal. Edwards also ordered the termination of a $475,000 state contract to handle the legal challenge held by the law firm of Alexandria attorney Jimmy Faircloth, a former Jindal aide. The governor, in… Continue reading →

Gov. John Bel Edwards answers teachers' questions at town hall-style meeting

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS --Governor John Bel Edwards speaks during a forum hosted by Louisiana Association of Educators -- teachers and other public school employees sounding off on their education needs.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said Tuesday night he aims to keep state aid for public schools at current levels amid Louisiana’s budget crisis. Edwards’ comments mark his most definitive statement on the issue since some education officials started sounding alarms that basic aid for schools might be cut for the first time in decades. The dollars… Continue reading →

East Baton Rouge school officials looking at reducing positions — possibly 85 — based on lower enrollments

Warren Drake

Staffing of public schools in Baton Rouge is likely to change next year, with fewer positions for second-tier school administrators and fewer classroom teachers in some schools but more spots for guidance counselors and librarians, as well as music and physical education teachers. The proposed new staffing formula would eliminate 85 positions overall, saving an estimated… Continue reading →

1 in 5 Common Core standards should be changed, educators say

Educators reviewing the Common Core academic standards will recommend that one in five be changed, leaders of the effort said Monday. The reviews, which stem from a law enacted last year, is being done by three subcommittees. A fourth group, called the Standards Review Committee, will likely take a vote on the recommendations on Tuesday in… Continue reading →

St. Helena superintendent cries foul on state-issued report cards

Louisiana’s annual report cards for public schools unfairly penalizes small rural school districts, St. Helena Parish School District Superintendent Kelli Joseph said Monday. The district, which is regularly among the lowest-scoring statewide, issued a 16-page report on Sunday in which Joseph and a researcher spelled out their concerns. The report says changes in state-issued school performance… Continue reading →

Special report: Governor pledges to ease burden on students, but no clear path to that goal

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Louisiana Gov-Elect John Bel Edwards gives the commencement address at the Fall Commencement of Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge on Dec. 11, 2015.

In his successful run for governor, John Bel Edwards promised to reverse at least some of the damage done to higher education in Louisiana over the past eight years. Bobby Jindal cut direct state aid to universities by 53 percent, and the schools dramatically increased tuition and fees to fill most of the gap. For… Continue reading →

Drake says charter competition has East Baton Rouge schools in ‘fight for our lives’

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING --  East Baton Rouge Schools Superintendent Warren Drake speaks Saturday to open the EBR  School Board retreat, held at Louisiana Technology Park.

Growing competition from charter schools represents a “fight for our lives,” East Baton Rouge Parish schools Superintendent Warren Drake said Saturday as he laid out a series of moves to both cut costs as well as retain and attract students to the state’s second-largest school district. “We need to become a more efficient operation than we… Continue reading →

Special report: Why are athletics largely immune to higher education budget cuts?

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- In a cloud of mist, workers power wash the seats in the football stadium on the first day of school at SLU in Hammond, La..

Nicholls State University’s sports teams cost the school more money each year than the university spends on many individual academic departments, including petroleum engineering and the college’s celebrated Chef John Folse Culinary Institute. As at most campuses, the lion’s share of the spending is on football, a sport the Colonels have played in Thibodaux since the… Continue reading →

McKinley High’s Brister meets with parents, players concerned about basketball program after coaches removed

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- The parent of a varsity player, Shena Coleman, right, in red, asks a question Friday during a meeting held by McKinley High School principal Herman Brister, Jr. to discuss McKinley boys basketball coach Harold Boudreaux and assistant coach Raeshawn Williams being relieved on of their coaching duties for the rest of the 2015-16 school year, after the conclusion of an investigation into an unspecified incident at the school.

Boys basketball players, their parents and alumni crowded into the library of McKinley High School on Friday morning to hear from Principal Herman Brister Jr., two days after they learned their head coach and assistant coach will not coach the team’s remaining nine games or any postseason games. Anyone hoping to find out what prompted the… Continue reading →

Four booked on suspicion of DWI in East Baton Rouge from Thursday to Friday

Authorities arrested at least four people suspected of driving while intoxicated in East Baton Rouge Parish and booked them into Parish Prison between noon Thursday and noon Friday, booking records show. Those booked and the counts against them: Daniel Arbour, 30, 4444 Drusilla Drive, Baton Rouge, first-offense DWI, failure to signal and improper… Continue reading →

'Basically, it's going to happen,' says LSU Board of Supervisors member on policy revision to aid 'Pistol' Pete statue

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- From left, LSU Board of Supervisors Chair-Elect Scott Ballard, left, laughs while talking with Jackie McLachlan, wife of the late LSU basketball great Pete Maravich, her husband Jim McLachlan of Covington and family friend Jeff Schoen, of Mandeville, Friday before the board voted to change the criteria for erecting statues on campus, thereby making one of  Maravich possible.  Ballard said that 'Pistol Pete' told him once, 'You have more pictures of me than I do!'  Ballard said of Maravich, 'To say he created a culture here is an understatement.'

It’s been 28 years since the death of LSU basketball legend “Pistol” Pete Maravich, and now the university appears to be moving forward with an effort to erect a statue in his honor. After hearing from an outpouring of support from fans and former LSU athletes, the LSU Board of Supervisors on Friday revised a policy regarding… Continue reading →

Special report: Amid cuts, shift in higher ed landscape, community colleges emerge in Louisiana

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Jesse Hill works on a welding projects at BRCC's Port Allen campus.

Terry Hammatt’s educational journey has been an unusual one. He received his bachelor’s degree from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches. Then he earned two master’s degrees — one from his alma mater and the other from the U.S. Army War College. And last year, Hammatt capped it off by earning an associate degree… Continue reading →

LSU gives Baton Rouge 6th graders a tour designed to get them thinking about preparing for college

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING --  Southeast Middle School students, from left to right, Jadyn Burrell, 11, DeJanea Robins, 11, and La'KitaSterling, 12, look at the stuffed, original Mike I, LSU's first live tiger mascot, on display at the LSU Museum of Natural Science in Foster Hall, during a visit to LSU by hundreds of sixth graders from East Baton Rouge Parish School system. The visit was the idea of LSU President F. King Alexander, and the event's goal was to get children thinking early about college, including LSU 'in their own back yard.'

Sounding like film critics, about 800 sixth-graders from Baton Rouge public middle schools mused on whether LSU, which they’d just toured Thursday, is the place they wanted to go to college. “This is a much bigger campus than Southern (University), and I like the buildings,” observed John Ross, 11. “I was thinking about going to… Continue reading →

McKinley High officials to meet with players, parents to discuss basketball program after two coaches sidelined

Advocate staff file photo by JOHN OUBRE -- McKinley boys basketball coach Harold Boudreaux in January 2015

In response to a small parent protest Thursday, the principal of McKinley High School is calling a meeting Friday morning for boys basketball players and their parents to discuss the program after head coach Harold Boudreaux and assistant coach Raeshawn Williams were sidelined for the rest of the 2015-16 season. Since relieving the two of… Continue reading →

Special report: Universities founded to offer minorities an escape from poverty struggling to fulfill their mission in Louisiana

Photo provided by SU Media Relations/Naville Oubre -- Southern University students on the Baton Rouge campus.

Sabrina Charatain began the fall semester at Southern University in Baton Rouge last year without textbooks, waiting for money from her student loan to come through. She plays a similar waiting game with the military benefits she earns for serving in the reserves. The money doesn’t show up until the end of the month. In… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge Diocese’s 29 Catholic schools recommended for reaccreditation for another five years

The Diocese of Baton Rouge and its 29 Catholic schools should remain accredited for another five years, according to a six-member team of educators who visited several of those schools this week. The team from AdvancED, the accrediting body, announced its recommendation to renew the diocese’s accreditation through 2021 at a brief gathering Wednesday afternoon. That… Continue reading →

BASIS seeking to open charter schools in Baton Rouge, New Orleans: ‘We do not lower the bar,’ CEO says of the challenging schools

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS --Peter Bezanson, chief executive officer of Arizona-base BASIS.ed, speaks to the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge Wednesday. BASIS charter schools are known for their heavy emphasis on science and math in middle grades and shepherding students through Advanced Placement courses and into select colleges.

The head of an Arizona-based network of academically challenging schools with plans to start five more schools in Louisiana, starting in Baton Rouge in 2017, says his schools demand more from students than the vast majority of schools. “We do not lower the bar,” said Peter Bezanson, chief executive officer of BASIS.ed, speaking slowly and emphatically… Continue reading →

Supporters of ‘Pistol Pete’ statue will push for one during LSU board meeting Friday

LSU’s basketball arena already bears his name, but now some members of LSU’s governing board and others are hoping that a meeting this week will finally pave the way for a statue honoring basketball star Pete Maravich on campus. The LSU Board of Supervisors is set to take up a student-athlete statue policy during its… Continue reading →

A first for LSU: Engineering student to appear on Jeopardy! College Championship Tournament

An LSU environmental engineering senior has become the first student from the university to be invited to the Jeopardy! College Championship Tournament. Kevin Brown, a 2012 Flagship Scholar recipient from Boise, Idaho, will take part in the quiz show episode that airs Tuesday. “Being on Jeopardy! was a much more intense and significant experience than I expected,” Brown said in an LSU… Continue reading →

Superintendent of Ascension Parish schools announces retirement, School Board gets ready to launch search for replacement

Advocate staff file photo by John Oubre -- Superintendent Patrice Pujol gives remarks  during Donaldsonville High School's graduation ceremony in May 2014.

Ascension Parish School Board members will begin next week planning the search for a new superintendent after Patrice Pujol announced Wednesday she is retiring March 1. Pujol, who’s been with the school district for 39 years, the last six as superintendent, will become the president of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching based in Santa… Continue reading →

Special report: ‘Flagship Agenda’ on hold at LSU as top researchers have left for greener pastures

Advocate staff photo by CHARLES CHAMPAGNE    Dr. William Wischusen teaches Biology 1201 Wednesday, August 26, 2015 to a class of 900 students inside the LSU Cox Communications Academic Center auditorium .LSU's ratio of students to faculty has been rising steadily amid budget woes.

Since the late 1800s, LSU’s status within Louisiana has been secure. It’s the unchallenged big dog, easily the largest and best-performing public university in the Pelican State. But the Tiger brand has less cachet elsewhere. Across America, LSU is best known for its perennially formidable football team and its dependable ranking as one of… Continue reading →

UL-Lafayette making do with less — so far

Advocate Photo by BRAD KEMP Incoming University of Louisiana at Lafayette international freshmen Brock Dong, left, and Xiangbo Liu, from China, talk to UL-Lafayette President E. Joseph Savoie in August.

When University of Louisiana at Lafayette President Joseph Savoie stepped into his new job in 2008, state funding for higher education in Louisiana had reached a historical peak. It’s been in free fall ever since. Years of cuts have left UL-Lafayette with roughly half the state support it had just seven years ago,… Continue reading →

Budget cuts, leadership void, tougher admission standards only added to UNO’s struggles after Hurricane Katrina

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- UNO student government president Joy Ballard's program was cut last year.

Joy Ballard had a tough decision to make when the University of New Orleans eliminated several degree programs in late 2014 — including hers. Dwindling state funding, dramatic enrollment drops and a yearslong, multimillion-dollar structural deficit led then-UNO President Peter Fos to put seven programs on the immediate chopping block and target others for restructuring.… Continue reading →

Demolition on former Central Middle School site continues with School Board to consider what to do with the 28 acres

The Central School Board on Monday agreed to continue demolishing buildings at the former Central Middle School and next month awaits recommendation from a consultant for what to do with the mostly cleared 28 acres at the intersection of Sullivan and Hooper roads. The only buildings left at that location will be the football stadium and… Continue reading →

LSU leaders brace for threat of 'catastrophic effects' of cuts in current year’s budget

Advocate staff photo by CHARLES CHAMPAGNE    Dr. William Wischusen teaches Biology 1201 Wednesday, August 26, 2015 to a class of 900 students inside the LSU Cox Communications Academic Center auditorium.

If Louisiana legislators are unable to fill a $750 million gap in the current state budget, LSU says it will have to hike student fees by $690, cancel some 275 courses and eliminate hundreds of faculty and staff positions. “The budget cut scenarios and associated outcomes described are unacceptable for the state’s flagship university, which represents Louisiana’s… Continue reading →

Istrouma High reopening may be delayed; superintendent unsure can meet August opening

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- East Baton Rouge Parish School Superintendent Warren Drake, front with hands up, and a handful of School Board members and top staff prepare to do a walk-through at Istrouma High School. The visit comes just days after state leaders finally acquiesced to Drake's month-long campaign to have the historic high school returned to local control. Istrouma, which has been closed since May 2014, however, needs work. Recent repair estimates range from $10.5 to $15 million, but those estimates may increase as school officials look more closely at the facility and what's happened since it's been closed and since 2012 when it was last under the control of the school system.

Less than two weeks after regaining control, East Baton Rouge Parish schools Superintendent Warren Drake is questioning whether it makes sense to try to reopen Istrouma High School by August, saying there might not be enough time. “We don’t want to do anything halfway,” he said of restoring the school. “We want to make sure we do… Continue reading →

Special report: Once geared toward poor, black students, now major shift in TOPS beneficiaries

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU students and other concerned university students Thursday to rally against the higher education budget cuts after assembling at nearby A.Z. Young Park. Louisiana Community & Technical Colleges representatives also held  workforce demonstrations in the Capitol rotunda during the day to show the value of their educational system.

Naima Bastian remembers the day, nearly 30 years ago, when the Texas-born oilman strode into her middle school in New Orleans East and made a startling promise to a classroom full of eighth-graders. If they could hold a B average through high school, the man said, he’d pay for their college education. Patrick Taylor’s… Continue reading →

CSAL, Madison Prep: Small, offbeat charter school grows into local educational, athletic powerhouse

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Complete with hardhat, CSAL executive director Dujan Johnson stands on the edge of the new building construction area. A small, homegrown charter school in business since 1997 has blossomed into a network of three charter schools. Two are among the highest rated charter schools in the metro Baton Rouge area. The third is the second largest online school in the state with nearly 2,000 students. The original middle CSAL (stands for Community School for Apprenticeship Learning) was followed in 2009 by a high school, Madison Prep. The K-12 virtual school, Louisiana Virtual Charter Academy, opened in 2012. Madison Prep is one of the only thriving public high schools in north Baton Rouge, at a time when traditional high schools in the area have closed. Both Madison Prep and CSAL, which are next door to each other, have B grades, a rarity in NBR. Madison grew 15.8 points and CSAL grew 4.7 points. MadisonÕs enrollment has slowly grown to 450 students currently, partly due to academics, but also partly due to an active sports program with several winning teams, which is a conscious recruitment strategy. A large new addition is under construction, opening this fall, allowing expansion up to almost 500 students.

Texas Longhorn defensive line coach Brick Haley paid a recruiting visit Wednesday to a small north Baton Rouge high school, which didn’t have a football team three years ago and didn’t even exist before 2009. It was a sign of how far Madison Preparatory Academy has come in a short time. While many… Continue reading →