Cancienne receives contract extension

PLAQUEMINE — The Iberville Parish School Board extended Superintendent Ed Cancienne’s contract until Dec. 31, 2016, rejecting a move to delay the decision until litigation over the constitutionality of Act I of the 2012 Legislature has been decided.

“I really would like for us to just wait until some things have settled,” board member Pam George said.

The School Board approved Cancienne’s contract extension by a vote of 11-3 during its Monday night meeting amid a round of applause from the audience. Board members George, Darlene Ourso and Dorothy Sansoni voted against the extension. Board member Earthley Baptiste abstained.

Before the vote, Sansoni asked Cancienne why he felt the board should extend his contract when, despite all of the positive things that have occurred since he became superintendent, the school district is still earning below-average grades annually in state Department of Education rankings.

“We’re still at the bottom with a D,” she said.

Among other things, Act 1 addresses who has power to hire, assign and fire teachers and other school personnel; teacher layoffs; superintendents’ contracts; and the authority to fire superintendents.

Cancienne said improving the district’s state accountability ranking won’t happen “overnight” and that he believes the district will start to receive above-average grades from the state “in a couple of years.”

Cancienne called attention to his efforts to improve employee retention through the implementation of a 25 percent pay increase.

Board member Tom Delahaye added the most “quantifiable” evidence of the superintendent’s success is the increase in student enrollment.

“Before Cancienne got here, our school system enrollment had been below 4,000 students,” Delahaye said. “We’ve grown by 1,000 students.”

Other business taken up by the board included:

MAGNET SCHOOLS: The board increased the grade-point average students attending either of the district’s two magnet schools must maintain from 2.5 to 2.75 on a 4.0 scale where an A is worth four points. The new standard will take effect this fall.

Elvis Cavalier, executive director of the school district’s two academies, said students who can’t meet the new standard at the end of the current school year will be placed on academic probation for one semester in the fall.

Cavalier added that 75 percent of the more than 1,400 children who attend the magnet schools have 3.0 GPAs.

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