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Finance report: See which East Baton Rouge Parish School Board candidates receiving thousands of dollars in campaign support

A political action committee affiliated with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber has quietly given $5,000 each to East Baton Rouge Parish School Board candidates Daniel Banguel and Robert Maxie Sr. despite opting initially not to support them. BRAC spokeswoman Ansley Zehnder said the contributions by FuturePAC are not formal endorsements of Banguel and Maxie, but are signs… Continue reading →

Judge to rule Friday if charter schools continue receiving MFP funding

Louisiana is improperly spending $60 million a year for two types of charter schools that are not entitled to the aid, an attorney for a teachers’ union charged Wednesday in urging a Baton Rouge state judge to halt the assistance. But lawyers representing state education leaders and an umbrella group for charter schools statewide asked District Judge… Continue reading →

St. James school officials pleased with ‘B’ grade from the state

The St. James Parish school district’s B grade from the Louisiana Department of Education earlier this month has pleased local school officials. “It’s good to see our district is still a B,” School Board President Alonzo Luce said during a School Board meeting Tuesday. “Hopefully we’ll get an A next… Continue reading →

Seeking ‘herd immunity’ against the flu, East Baton Rouge students line up for vaccinations

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING --  Not with an ouch, but a sniffleƉ Park Forest Middle School student Keiron Dennis, 11, squenches up his nose just after the flu mist was administered to him at the school Tuesday, at East Baton Rouge Parish public schools' kickoff of its annual flu vaccinations for school children.  Ellen Richard, a registered nurse with Health Centers in Schools, said that most children can take the nasal spray vaccine instead of the traditional needle-based innoculation, unless they have respiratory ailments like asthma. 'Some say it feels like getting water up the nose, and there's an occasional sneeze, but some kids actually say it tastes like candy.'

Twenty-five students got out of class Tuesday morning to go to the library at Park Forest Middle School in Baton Rouge, where nurses waited to spray FluMist into their nostrils. That mildly unpleasant, tingly spray might protect them and their family from coming down with the flu this winter. They are the first of thousands of… Continue reading →

WISE Fund plans move forward

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Louisiana Board of Regents Chairman W. Clinton 'Bubba' Rasberry addresses members of the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge on the state of higher education in Louisiana at Boudreaux's last year.

LSU is preparing to add tenure-track faculty positions in computer science, chemical engineering, petroleum engineering, kinesiology and other fields. Southern University at New Orleans will beef up its computer information systems program with lab upgrades and assistantships to help students pay for books and tuition. Similarly, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette will provide dozens… Continue reading →

Southern submits improvement plan

Southern University is trying to improve customer service and reach out more to students who are struggling. The efforts, outlined in a recent report to the state Board of Regents, are a direct response to the university’s failure to meet the state’s GRAD Act measures, which are meant to improve student outcomes. The Board of Regents… Continue reading →

Most BR area charter schools show gains on state scores

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Eighth grade teacher Bernadette Turegano, top right, watches over the end of a math test in her class. One of the charter school's earning a B grade is THRIVE Charter, an inner city boarding school that just started its third year. They have students in sixth to eighth grade.

Two-thirds of the charter schools in the Baton Rouge metro area improved academically during the 2013-14 school year, with three improving to B grades, according to school performance scores released earlier this week. Still, about half managed to earn only Ds and Fs, roughly equivalent to the East Baton Rouge Parish school system, their main competition… Continue reading →

West Feliciana superintendent suffers heart attack

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- West Feliciana Parish Schools Supt. Hollis Milton.

Hollis Milton, superintendent of the West Feliciana Parish school system, suffered a heart attack on Thursday, school officials announced Friday. Milton is “doing well and resting comfortably,” according to a prepared statement issued by Emma Uhle, executive assistant to the superintendent. Uhle said early Friday afternoon that Milton had just been removed from the Intensive Care… Continue reading →

Louisiana colleges ask Legislature for less money than they want

Louisiana’s colleges and universities will ask for about $504 million from the state in next year’s budget — well below what leaders say the higher education institutions should be getting from the state’s coffers, but a slight increase from this year’s funding. On Wednesday, the state Board of Regents agreed to a preliminary budget request for fiscal… Continue reading →

Three Central School Board members in races against political newcomers

CENTRAL — A majority of incumbents will return to the seven-member Central Community School Board next year, but three board members are facing challengers for the Nov. 4 election. Jim Lloyd, Roxanne Atkinson, David Walker and Jim Gardner were each re-elected without opposition when qualifying ended in August. But the incumbent members of… Continue reading →

Louisiana public school teachers improve in job reviews, but superintendent of education notices issue with evaluations

Advocate file photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- State Superintendent of Education John White

Amid less rigorous reviews, public school teachers showed gains Wednesday in their annual job evaluations. A total of 43 percent of teachers landed the top rating — “highly effective” — compared to 32 percent last year. State Superintendent of Education John White, who spelled out the results, said there were other signs… Continue reading →

Community colleges secure $1 million from JPMorgan

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -Monty Sullivan, president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System,  leads a round of applause after the unveiling of a $1 million check, donated to the Louisiana Community and Technical College System by J.P. Morgan Chase, Louisiana, Tuesday on the Baton Rouge Community College campus. Gov. Bobby Jindal, back, center, applauds with students and university system officials.

Gov. Bobby Jindal announced Tuesday the first corporate donor to give matching funds for a program to help higher education institutions focus on programs that train workers. JPMorgan Chase & Company is giving $1 million for the Louisiana Community and Technical Colleges to help it secure funding through the legislatively created WISE Fund. The $40… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge-area school districts shine in state rankings, but EBR still lags

Baton Rouge area district performance scores

Zachary remains the top school district in Louisiana, but Central is right behind it, shooting from seventh to third place in the latest academic rankings of school districts, according to performance scores released Monday. Five of the top 10 districts are in the Baton Rouge metropolitan area and all have A grades from the state. Livingston Parish,… Continue reading →

State: 28% of schools get D or F

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE -- Louisiana State Superintendent of Education John White is shown speaking in the cafeteria of the W.D. & Mary Baker Smith Career Center in Lafayette on Oct. 6, 2014. White was visiting schools around Lafayette Parish as part of his Louisiana Believes tour.

Shielded from any nosedives, public school letter grades were largely unchanged for the 2013-14 school year, with 28 percent of schools receiving a D or F, the state Department of Education announced Tuesday. However, state Superintendent of Education John White said schools will have to show improvements to meet higher expectations starting with the 2015-16 school year.… Continue reading →

School Board appalled at condition of RSD schools, but questions who’s responsible for upkeep

Photo from www.EBRschools.net -- Ceiling tiles damaged by water intrusion at Prescott Middle School.

Seven north Baton Rouge schools taken over by the state for chronic low academic performance have steadily fallen into disrepair. A long-simmering debate about who’s responsible for bringing them back into good repair broke out in public view at the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board meeting on Thursday. School Board members saw recent pictures… Continue reading →

BESE approves emergency Ebola policies for public schools

Advocate file photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) President Chas Roemer.

Facing questions and worries about Ebola, the state’s top school board on Wednesday approved emergency rules that give local superintendents sweeping new authority to close public schools and send students home if they sense a threat. Chas Roemer, president of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, said the panel took the action as… Continue reading →

Louisiana Supreme Court upholds state's teacher tenure law

Advocate file photo -- The Louisiana Supreme Court building, New Orleans.

In a victory for Gov. Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a hotly debated state law that makes it harder for public school teachers to earn and retain a form of job protection called tenure. The ruling, for the second time, reversed a decision by state District Judge Michael Caldwell,… Continue reading →

Panel considers campus sexual assault survey

Advocate staff photo by ANDREA MABRY -- Sen. J.P. Morrell

Louisiana advocates against sexual assault say they want to survey college students about their experiences on campuses here. A task force formed by state Sen. J.P. Morrell to address campus sexual assault met for the first time Wednesday at the State Capitol to provide a general overview of plans for addressing the topic. One… Continue reading →

St. James School Board seeks clarification on Aramark contract

St. James Parish School Board members on Tuesday sought clarification from two representatives from Aramark, the private company providing custodial services at parish schools, about who is actually performing the janitorial work and at what cost to the district. Board members also discussed a clerical error that led to them not receiving… Continue reading →

Baker School Board holds first meeting in new office, honors students

Photo provided by Emily Beck Cogburn -- The new Baker School Board buildling.

More than 120 people packed the new school district office building on Tuesday for the first meeting of the Baker School Board in its new office in the former Graves Chevrolet property at 14750 Plank Road. The school district purchased the 3.4-acre property for $1.1 million in March. The district has budgeted… Continue reading →

Senate candidates square off in Shreveport

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., right, Senate candidate, Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., left, and Republican candidate Rob Maness participate in a debate at Centenary College in Shreveport, La., Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Tuesday night’s debate among the three leading candidates in Louisiana’s U.S. Senate race featured few surprises, but gave each a chance to point out their differences and challenge each other face-to-face. Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy and Republican retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness squared off on… Continue reading →

Magnet schools participation in Blue Ribbon contest passes committee

A state education panel on Tuesday forwarded a proposal to reverse the state’s controversial exclusion of magnet schools from the chance to win a prestigious national award in favor of “nonselective” schools. With little discussion, a committee of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education unanimously approved new nominating criteria for determining which… Continue reading →

State reviewing criteria for Blue Ribbon school nominations

Louisiana is considering allowing magnet schools the chance once again to win a prestigious national award, backing away from a controversial decision this spring to exclude the magnet schools in favor of “nonselective” schools. The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education this week plans to take up new nominating criteria to determine which… Continue reading →

Bobby Jindal backs federal pre-K grant bid

Despite his concerns about Common Core, Gov. Bobby Jindal will back a state bid to land a $15 million federal prekindergarten grant. Jindal’s office made the announcement Monday after days of letter exchanges between the governor, who opposes Common Core, and state Superintendent of Education John White, who backs the classroom standards. Jindal repeatedly said… Continue reading →

Lane Grigsby leads in campaign donations for EBR School Board races

Baton Rouge businessman Lane Grigbsy is once again pouring money into East Baton Rouge Parish School Board elections, far outpacing all other donors, according to campaign finance reports released last week. The total spending so far this election cycle by Grigsby, his family members and top executives at his company, Cajun Industries, is just shy of $160,000,… Continue reading →

St. George campaign a factor in the District 8 School Board race

As she seeks re-election, Connie Bernard is once again part of a field of four candidates seeking to serve on the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board. In 2010, the lone Republican running in District 8, she won outright, getting twice as many votes as her nearest opponent and avoiding a runoff. This time, she is… Continue reading →

‘Super Science Saturday’ draws young science enthusiasts to LSU

Advocate staff photo by John Oubre -- Nikki Edmonson and her 7yr. old son Noah, watch as Albemarle representative Julia Pence conducts an experiment with liquids on Saturday.

The Pete Maravich Assembly Center transformed from a sports arena to host for “Super Science Saturday” this weekend, as throngs of young science enthusiasts eager to learn gathered for colorful demonstrations and first-hand chemical reactions and experiments. The 27th annual event consisted of 19 stations encircling the upper level concourse of the PMAC, with… Continue reading →

Common Core critics launch new push to kill standards

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, talks with reporters in this Aug. 15, 2014, Advocate file photo.

Applauded by Gov. Bobby Jindal, opponents of Common Core have held two town hall meetings and plan six more statewide in a final bid to kill the new educational standards in the Legislature. State Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, said Friday that because next year is an election year and Jindal is now a… Continue reading →

State Board of Regents: Joseph Rallo selected new higher ed commissioner

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Board of Regents pick Joseph Rallo, right, who is congratulated by a line of people, as the new higher education commissioner.

Louisiana’s next higher education commissioner has served in the Navy and Air Force, speaks multiple languages, has studied European law and Russian history, and is seen as an expert on global policy. The state Board of Regents on Thursday hailed as a coup its decision to hire Texas Tech System administrator Joseph Rallo for the state higher… Continue reading →

LSU boasts most diverse student body ever, highest GPA, ACT scores

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU students walk by the Campanile on campus.

LSU’s freshman class this fall has the highest average ACT score and highest average grade point average in the university’s history. The student body, as a whole, is also LSU’s most diverse ever — with 5.3 percent of its more than 30,000 students identifying as Hispanic, 11.2 percent as African-American, 3.5 percent as Asian and 2.2 percent… Continue reading →

Louisiana community colleges approve 6-year plan

Louisiana’s community and technical colleges are embarking on an aggressive, six-year plan that includes doubling the number of graduates and their total earnings, quadrupling the number of students they send to the state’s four-year schools and significantly increasing private dollars and partnerships with businesses. “I don’t think it’s any secret to anyone that the biggest… Continue reading →

Jindal says Common Core critics need legal protection

Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks at the 2014 Values Voter Summit in Washington, Friday, Sept. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Gov. Bobby Jindal took the unusual step of issuing an executive order Wednesday against what he called unfair efforts by school leaders to hush teachers who oppose Common Core. Jindal, who opposes the academic standards, said he was prompted to act by an account in The Alexandria Town Talk newspaper. The story quoted… Continue reading →

Copper Mill school closed because of water main break

ZACHARY -- Copper Mill Elementary School is closed Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, because of a water main break, according to the Zachary Community School Board. Parents have until 10 a.m. if they wish to collect their children. Otherwise, fifth-graders will be sent to Zachary Middle School, and sixth-graders will be sent to Zachary High School for the day.… Continue reading →

FuturePAC makes endorsements, contributions in East Baton Rouge School Board races

A political action committee affiliated with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber is giving money to candidates in four of the six East Baton Rouge Parish School Board races, including newcomers Mark Bellue and Chris Bailey. FuturePAC also announced Tuesday its endorsement of incumbents Evelyn Ware-Jackson for District 5 and Barbara Freiberg for District… Continue reading →

U.S. education secretary plans New Orleans speech

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who has ignited controversy in Louisiana previously, will be the featured speaker at a meeting in New Orleans on Dec. 11. Duncan will appear at the annual luncheon of the Bureau of Governmental Research, a nonprofit group that analyzes public policies. In 2010, Duncan said Hurricane Katrina was the “best thing”… Continue reading →

LSU Alumni head: No wrongdoing found in audits

LSU Alumni Association President and CEO Cliff Vannoy says two separate audits that were ordered following a sex scandal involving the group’s former leader have found no wrongdoing or misused money. The independent reports are expected to formally be released this week, Vannoy told the LSU Faculty Senate on Tuesday. Former association head Charlie Roberts Continue reading →

Southern Lab rebounds with help from online enrollment

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Southern University Law Center students Carroll Atkins, far left, and McKinley James work with Southern University Laboratory School students, from left, Kaylie Richardson, 9; Sandy Pitts, 9; Donecia Young, 9; and Harold Baudy, 12, as they make a presentation in a class that is a partnership between the Lab School, Law Center and Baton Rouge Bar Association. The school has achieved a turnaround in its finances. Two years ago, it was running big deficits and had to be underwritten heavily by Southern University. Now it's in the black, with almost 500 students, about double the number from two years ago, in its brick-and-mortar school, and another 500 or so in its new online school.

Four years ago, Southern University Lab School was in trouble, deep in the red and losing students. But a shift to online education has restored the school’s financial health and prospects, perhaps even helping attract local students to the physical campus next to the historically black university in Baton Rouge. Southern Lab’s Virtual School, barely… Continue reading →

Three candidates for Louisiana Commissioner Higher Education to be interviewed this week

Louisiana’s next commissioner of higher education likely will be named this week, after the state Board of Regents and other higher education leaders get a chance to vet three finalists for the job. None of the three has emerged as a clear frontrunner for the nearly $350,000-a-year position. Their backgrounds are diverse: a community college president… Continue reading →