21 Livingston schools recognized

LIVINGSTON — Livingston Parish school officials Thursday night recognized 21 of the district’s 42 schools for meeting or exceeding their state performance goals for 2011-2012.

The schools, named Top Gains schools by the state, will each receive an $8,453 cut of the district’s $177,530 award from the state, Superintendent John Watson said. The monetary award, which had not been given out for a few years due to state budget cuts, came from “repurposed” state Minimum Foundation Program funds, he said.

“A number of our schools are Top Gains schools every year,” Watson said. “It changes from year to year, which schools, simply because once you reach a certain height, it gets really tough to keep climbing up through the ceiling.”

Livingston Parish had a higher percentage of schools meeting their growth targets — 50 percent — than any other district in the state, Supervisor of Instruction Joe Murphy said. In addition, Walker Freshman High had the largest gain in the state, he said.

Overall, the district ranked 10th in the state with a performance score that increased from 107.5 to 117.4, the largest single-year increase the district has ever recorded, Murphy said.

Eight of the district’s schools were rated A by the state for 2011-12, 28 rated B and six rated C, Murphy said. None of the district’s schools were rated D or F.

Schools honored are:

Albany Middle School, Albany Upper Elementary, Denham Springs Freshman High, Denham Springs High, Doyle High, Eastside Elementary, French Settlement High, Gray’s Creek Elementary, Holden High, Juban Parc Elementary, Juban Parc Junior High, Lewis Vincent Elementary, Live Oak High, Maurepas High, Seventh Ward Elementary, South Live Oak Elementary, South Walker Elementary, Springfield High, Walker Elementary, Walker Freshman High and Walker High.

Other business before the School Board included:

SUSPENDING POLICIES: The board voted to suspend some of its recent policy changes stemming from Act 1 of the 2012 Regular Legislative Session, after a state court judge found portions of the act unconstitutional in December.

Judge R. Michael Caldwell, of the 19th Judicial District in Baton Rouge, found unconstitutional the provisions of Act 1 that would have transferred much of the power school boards hold to hire and fire teachers and other employees to school principals and district superintendents.

Caldwell also threw out requirements for district superintendent contracts to set performance targets based on student achievement, graduation and teacher effectiveness ratings, as well as the mandate that teacher effectiveness
ratings, rather than seniority or tenure, guide layoff decisions.

With those changes, as well as changes to Bulletin 741, also known as the school administrators’ handbook, “we’re just going to be spending a lot of time in the next six months or more changing policies,” Watson said.

“It sure is a mess that they’re creating,” board member Buddy Mincey said.