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Nov. School Board Meeting

by Will Phillips

The Nov. Webster Parish School Board meeting took place last Thursday, and while many would sure like to forget, the effects that COVID-19 have had on our school system, faculty, and students is all but apparent when listening to these meetings. What is also apparent is the School Boards’ diligence in facing these challenges that the pandemic has brought so far with proper planning and execution. 

Early in the meeting David Griffith, Technology Coordinator for the Pathways to Excellence Center, was awarded employee of the month, presented by Taylor & Sons Insurance. 

“Mr. Griffith is an invaluable employee. No one knows the scope of the work he and his staff had done during these recent months with COVID-19. He worked around the clock to assist staff and families with this transition to online learning. He is professional, kind, hardworking, adn extremely conscious in all that he does. Many districts around us ask how we were able to attain and retain such an outstanding coordinator for our technology department. He is an unsung hero, because without him, our students would suffer, our schools would suffer, and our employees would be negatively impacted,” said Dr. Julie Freeman, representing Taylor & Sons.

“It’s just an honor to be awarded this this month, and I appreciate it. Whoever said the kind words, I appreciate them,” said Griffith.

The board notably voted in approval of the continuation of virtual Fridays for the following dates, Nov. 13, Nov. 20, Jan. 29, Feb. 26, Mar. 26, Apr. 30, June 4. This would keep the virtual Friday’s, the days the students and teachers use to catch up on their virtual work, that were implemented since the inception of this school year going throughout the rest of the school year for the dates listed above.

Superintendent Johnny Rowland, understanding the varying opinions that people have in relation to students returning to school, stated “Some have reported to me that they really like the way things have been going, nothing negative, then I talk to others who were ready yesterday for their kids to be in school five days a week for the remainder of the school year. Considering that, after talking with some teachers, all administrators, and supervisory staff, we just feel that this would be in the best interests of not only our students but our employees as well, moving forward with the remainder of this school year.”

Ursula Hullaby, Webster Parish School Board’s Community Liaison, was happy to announce a successful, albeit different, Red Ribbon Week, a drug, alcohol, and tobacco prevention awareness program.

“We had a successful Red Ribbon Week, even though it was abbreviated. Our children did get the message, and they were able to have a red out on thursday, so it was a success, and we’re really excited about having that happen,” said Ursula Hullaby, Webster parish School Board’s Community Liaison. 

During Superintendent Rowland’s  report at the end of the meeting, it the numbers of students transitioning to and from the parish’s online learning option Tech Connect, were revealed. 

He stated that before the upcoming transition, about 2000 students, or roughly 35% of the total student population, were currently enrolled online. 

“472 of those students will be returning to in person learning. It’s pretty even, 201 in the elementary range, 271 in the middle school and high school range. We have 108 that are going to be transitioning out of the in-person learning, the on-campus learning, to the Tech Connect online learning.”

“That’s 363 total students that will be moving to on campus learning from Tech Connect, so we will remain at about 30% of our population in Tech Connect.”

Rowland also used this opportunity to thank the people who had been working on the Tech Connect program, saying “A huge thanks to our Tech Connect team.” 

“They have been working feverishly on scheduling, readjusting, determining who will move to the virtual staffing, and to the in-person learning and staffing in our schools. We appreciate all the principles, teachers, and administrative teams that are also working to make this happen. We just want to make both of our programs the very best they can be.

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