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Bill to return RSD schools to local control clears key legislative hurdle

After years of bickering, a bill that would return all 52 public schools overseen by the state in New Orleans to the local school board neared final legislative approval Thursday. The House endorsed the measure 54-17, and the Senate earlier backed it 36-0. Once a technical change added by the House is approved by the Senate… Continue reading →

Louisiana Senate committee advances bill revising teacher evaluations

A heavily-negotiated bill backed by Gov. John Bel Edwards that would tweak the way public school teachers are evaluated won easy approval Thursday in the Louisiana Senate Education Committee. The measure, Senate Bill 342, passed without objection and next faces action in the full Senate. The legislation is the result of numerous closed door meetings among… Continue reading →

School officials discuss ways to restore prominence to Istrouma High

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Brookstown Middle Magnet Academy seventh grader Lyriel Harris, 14, left, talks with East  Baton Rouge Schools Supt. Warren Drake before a presentation by officials Wednesday to Brookstown Middle Magnet Academy to highlight the imminent reopening of Istrouma High School and encourage Brookstown's students to consider enrolling in the school.

The plans for the reopening of Istrouma High School call not just for reviving the nearly century-old north Baton Rouge institution but for the re-creation of another long dead but once prominent school, Istrouma Middle Magnet. Istrouma High, which closed in 2014, and Istrouma Middle, which closed in 2004, would share the 3730 Winbourne Ave. campus.… Continue reading →

Bill targeting 'overwhelming' red tape in Louisiana schools fails; see why teacher unions oppose it

A bill that would allow superintendents to seek state waivers from what they consider burdensome rules and regulations was rejected Wednesday by the House Education Committee. The vote was 5-7. Opponents said there already are provisions in place for such complaints. “Every school board has a grievance procedure,” said Scott Richard, executive director of the… Continue reading →

House approves bill to permit students to take survey on sexual risks

With no votes to spare, a bill that would let public high school students take part in a national survey on sexual risks won approval Tuesday in the Louisiana House. The vote was 53-40, the minimum number of yes votes needed to clear the House. The measure, House Bill 402, next faces action, and an uncertain… Continue reading →

Livingston Parish school superintendent to retire in June, school board to discuss search this week

Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD -- Livingston Parish Superintendent John Watson speaks to a packed room of teachers and parents during a meeting to discuss Common Core State Standards on Monday at the Livingston Parish School Board in Livingston.

The Livingston Parish school system will begin its search for a new superintendent sooner than expected, following Superintendent John Watson’s announcement Monday that he will retire at the end of June, six months before his contract’s end date. Watson, who took over as superintendent in 2012 following the retirement of Bill Spear, said… Continue reading →

Louisiana high school graduation rate shows second highest rise in decade

While always low nationally, Louisiana’s public high school graduation rate is 77.5 percent after the second largest yearly increase in the past decade, state officials announced Monday. The 2015 figure, the latest available, is up 2.9 percentage points over 2014. “Really, it is clear evidence that when you raise expectations for young people, they will follow… Continue reading →

'We don't have the support': Gov. John Bel Edwards' schools legislative agenda mostly dead

AP Photo by MELINDA DESLATTE -- Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards talks about his first 100 days since taking office in January, at a press conference on April 19.

With several bills already on life support, Gov. John Bel Edwards has pulled the plug on his high-profile education proposals to restrict access to vouchers and curb the growth of charter schools. “We don’t have the support we need to advance those bills,” said Erin Monroe Wesley, special counsel for Edwards who also oversees legislative affairs.… Continue reading →

East Baton Rouge school system showcases public school programs at event

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Denise Verrett, 15, paints a painting of Bob Marley using the fauvism technique during the EBR School systemÕs "CelEBRate" block party, Saturday, April 30, 2016, at McKinley Middle School in Baton Rouge, La.

The East Baton Rouge Parish school system’s public and magnet schools showcased their academic and extracurricular programs during the first “CelEBRate” event at McKinley Middle Magnet School on Saturday. After thunderstorms forced the event from the downtown riverfront to McKinley, parents, volunteers and community and school leaders packed into the narrow hallways as students participated in… Continue reading →

Inside look at 'golden parachutes' at Louisiana universities, why they're under increased scrutiny these days

Former LSU Chancellor Sean O'Keefe.    ORG XMIT: LABAT

Critics call them “golden parachutes.” They’re the lofty protections built into contracts that give university presidents and chancellors a high-paid, back-up position on the faculty at the same institution in case they are fired. It’s standard operating procedure for university leaders, but it has drawn scrutiny in recent months as money for public universities… Continue reading →

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards: Voucher cuts product of historic budget crisis -- plain and simple

Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday he proposed cutting state aid for vouchers 14 percent because of Louisiana’s historic financial crisis, not because of any sudden turnaround in his education views. “When you have a large budget deficit, you have to make adjustments,” Edwards told reporters. “It is just a function of arithmetic,” he said later.… Continue reading →

Without dissent, Louisiana Senate says yes to mandating cursive writing

A bill that would require the teaching of cursive writing in public schools won approval Wednesday in the Louisiana Senate. The vote was 37-0. The measure, Senate Bill 275, next faces action in the state House. Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton, has said cursive is needed so students can appreciate historical documents and carry distinctive signatures.… Continue reading →

Ascension board reviews proposed rollout schedule for school projects

Ascension Parish School Board members are reviewing a proposed rollout schedule of design and construction on the first of several projects to be built with bond money from the property tax renewal voters approved earlier this month. Voters in Ascension Parish on April 9 overwhelmingly approved renewal of… Continue reading →

Gov. John Bel Edwards 'lied to me,' voucher advocacy group says in new TV ads

A pro-voucher group is launching statewide television ads that accuse Gov. John Bel Edwards of lying to voters when he promised not to slash state aid for the school assistance. Edwards labeled the accusation blatantly false. The ads, which begin Tuesday in Baton Rouge and elsewhere, feature three unidentified mothers of voucher recipients looking into the… Continue reading →

Facing uncertainty with state funding, Central School Board backs off on construction plans — for now

Despite strong financial reserves and a recent upgrade in its credit rating, the Central School Board on Monday postponed for at least year repaving much of the parking lot at Central High School and buying larger classroom buildings for Bellingrath Hills and Tanglewood elementary schools. The attack of thriftiness was prompted by the possibility of further… Continue reading →

Sacked: Bill to force Louisiana high school sports playoff changes crushed in House vote

A revamped bid to force changes in high school football and other playoffs was crushed Monday in the Louisiana House. The vote was 34 in favor and 51 opposed. The lopsided vote likely ends any effort by the Legislature to get involved in the issue during the current session, which ends June 6.… Continue reading →

Revised Common Core tests spark little debate, no widespread boycotts this year: 'It's a lot quieter'

In a radical change from last year, about 300,000 public schools students Monday begin taking what used to be called the Common Core tests — without any widespread boycotts, political rhetoric or other drama. “It just seems to be an overall calmer environment this year,” said Hollis Milton, president of the Louisiana… Continue reading →

LSU seeks high-demand public dollars -- to tune of $23 million -- for Nicholson Gateway development

Rendering provided to The Advocate -- A streetcar, seen in the background, could tie into a proposed plan for the Nicholson Drive corridor from LSU to downtown Baton Rouge. Two firms have been selected as finalists to redevelop tho old Alex Box Stadium site with student residence halls and retail. LSU officials hope to select which business will head up the public-private partnership in the spring.

LSU is charging ahead with plans to build Nicholson Gateway, a mixed-use development concept that is intended to add much-needed student housing while expanding LSU’s footprint west across Nicholson Drive. Yet the project, which is a public-private partnership, needs an infusion of public dollars to the tune of about $23 million to kick-start construction.… Continue reading →

East Baton Rouge School Board agrees to expand foreign-language immersion program to Polk Elementary

Advocate file photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- The Polk Elementary School campus would become the new home of the Baton Rouge Foreign Language Academic Immersion Magnet under a proposal by East Baton Rouge Parish school Superintendent Bernard Taylor.

A popular foreign language immersion school in downtown Baton Rouge will expand this fall to occupy nearby Polk Elementary, where older students will attend. After a lengthy debate Thursday, the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board voted 8-0 in favor of the idea. Board member Kenyetta Nelson-Smith was absent. Grades kindergarten to second will remain… Continue reading →

Bill to curb charter schools shelved

Gov. John Bel Edwards’ public schools package suffered major setbacks Thursday on two fronts. An Edwards-backed bill aimed at curbing the growth of charter schools was shelved by the sponsor Thursday in a Senate committee amid heavy opposition. In addition, the same sponsor of the governor’s bill to trim access to vouchers all but declared the… Continue reading →

Cursive-writing mandate clears first Louisiana legislative hurdle, but will full Senate follow the script?

Associated Press file photo

Public school students would have to be taught cursive writing starting in August under a bill that breezed through the Louisiana Senate Education Committee on Thursday. The measure, Senate Bill 275, cleared its first hurdle without objection. It next faces action in the full Senate, and an uncertain future. Freshman state Sen. Beth… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge mother banned after bypassing long carpool lines; 'major safety issue,' school official says

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Katy Miletello, left, and her daughter Alaina, 8, at the south edge of the parking lot of the Catholic Life Center, with Baton Rouge Center for the Visual and Performing Arts (BRCVPA) in the background. Katy has been banned for the rest of the year from the popular elementary magnet school, after the principal said Miletello can't come on campus without permission for the rest of the school year, because she violated  the school's new rules when it comes to picking up and dropping off her kid.

A popular arts-focused magnet school in Baton Rouge has banned a parent from campus for the rest of the school year after she intentionally violated a new rule that parents can no longer park nearby and walk their kids onto school grounds. The incident occurred Tuesday, and the parent, Katy Miletello, received her ban letter from… Continue reading →

Gonzales native gets Truman Scholarship

Chauncey Stephens is a LSU Truman Scholar.

Chauncey Stephens, a Gonzales native, said she was shaped by great teachers and excellent educational opportunities growing up in Ascension Parish. But she’s learned that not every child is as lucky as she was, and she’d like to dedicate her life to public service and ensuring more children get the same access and opportunity she did.… Continue reading →

Controversial sex survey bill for Louisiana high school students clears first legislative hurdle

A bill that would allow public high school students to take part in a national survey on sexual risks was approved Wednesday by the Louisiana House Education Committee. The vote was 7-4, and the measure, House Bill 402, next faces action in the full House. State Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge, and sponsor of the bill,… Continue reading →

Bill to lock in TOPS awards flies through committee, heads to House for last hurdle

A bill that could put a cap on TOPS awards, preventing the scholarships from increasing as tuition grows, advanced out of a House committee Wednesday morning and could have just one more hurdle at the Capitol. If the bill escapes the House without amendment, it will head to Gov. John Bel Edwards’ desk. He has indicated… Continue reading →

After LSU fires marching band director, 'shocked' Roy King considers suing school 'he loved'

Photo by RACHEL SALTZBERG -- Count on a dynamic show when LSU Tiger Marching Band Director Roy King directs the Golden Band from Tigerland at Tigerama on Wednesday, Oct. 28.

Roy King, the director of LSU’s Golden Band from Tiger Land, was officially fired on Tuesday, ending a career of almost two decades working with the university’s marching band. King, who was put on administrative leave pending an investigation earlier this month, learned he was terminated via a letter mailed to him from LSU… Continue reading →

LSU’s professor Isiah Warner named best in the SEC

LSU chemistry professor Isiah Warner was recently named the top professor in the Southern Eastern Conference. Warner, a Bunkie native, was recognized as the 2016 SEC Professor of the Year last week — an annual recognition that comes along with a $20,000 honorarium. “On behalf of the 14 SEC presidents and chancellors, I am… Continue reading →

Survey: Ascension’s next schools superintendent should have good communication skills

Some 574 people, largely teachers and parents, sent in their wish list for the top qualities they’d like to see in the next Ascension Parish schools superintendent, the board’s consultant said Thursday. It’s a high number of responses, said Bill Newman with the Ray and Associates search firm, of Iowa, a number… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge charter organization to build five schools, aims to 'transform' educational possibilities

A prominent nonprofit group that has helped lure several charter schools to Baton Rouge announced Thursday it will build facilities for five of these public — but independently run — schools over the next three years, breaking ground on the first one this summer. Chris Meyer, president and CEO of New Schools for Baton Rouge, announced the… Continue reading →

Bills to change TOPS sailing through legislature; one would lock today's dollar value for future awards

Advocate staff photo by CHARLES CHAMPAGNE  —  Incoming freshman and transfer students head to their next STRIPES activity Tuesday, August 11, 2015 on Louisiana State University’s campus. ORG XMIT: BAT1508121038074895

If tuition goes up at Louisiana colleges and universities in future years, for the first time, students who have the TOPS scholarship may have to pay a portion of their own tuition. That’s the gist of Mandeville Republican Sen. Jack Donahue’s TOPS bill, which easily cleared the Senate on Wednesday and is largely expected to become… Continue reading →