Home News Webster Parish School Board’s April meeting

Webster Parish School Board’s April meeting

Shown left to right (front row) Susan Addington, Margaret Edens, Debbie Thomas, Johnnye Kennon, Glenda Broughton, Linda Kinsey, Jana Watson (back row) Jerry Lott, Charles Strong, Johnny Rowland, Jonathan Guthrie, Ronnie Rhymes

During the April 3 Webster Parish School Board meeting, a number of items were discussed from comments on the next school calendar to the prospective teachers the district might hire, to the results of the lockdown drill at Minden High. Also, Jerri Lee joined the board as the new representative for District 9.

Julie Msangi addressed the board concerning the decision on how to select the next school calendar. At the March school board meeting, it was decided to allow all the employees to vote on a calendar. As a result, the traditional calendar was chosen over the balanced calendar.

“We feel that the decision to determine next year’s calendar by pure democratic vote, including all of the employees of Webster Parish, was a mistake,” she said.

Msangi went on to say that the data presented at the November 2022 meeting supported the conviction that the balanced calendar with intersessions played a significant role in improving student growth. She believes that not everyone was aware of this data, and also believes that the process should have included input from students and parents as well.

“Thirty-one slides about the effectiveness of the balanced calendar and the intersession program were presented during the November 7 board meeting. These slides showed the dramatic gains our students achieved, including the fact that 9 out of 14 schools showed higher school performance scores than in the years prior to 2020. The data overwhelmingly showed that we as a district made impressive gains that earned us top ten in the improvement of students scoring mastery or advanced on the state tests.”

There was no further discussion of the calendar after this, as this agenda item was only for the purpose of allowing Msangi to make her statements to the board. 

This is the time of year when human resources is actively scouting for new teachers.

When asked about the prospects for new teachers found at job fairs, Robin Tucker, the personnel director, replied, “The quality is high, but the quantity is very, very low. For instance, last week we were at a job fair at Louisiana Tech, and there were 45-50 districts there, and we might have seen 8 or 10 candidates all day.”

Webster Parish is using a “grow your own” mentality to produce teachers in which paraprofessionals are encouraged and helped to earn their teaching degrees, substitute teachers are encouraged to become paraprofessionals, and high school students are encouraged to pursue education as a career. 

Superintendent Rowland also wanted to take this opportunity to publicly thank the Minden Police Department and the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office for the work they performed during a lockdown drill at Minden High School recently. He asked Ursula Hullaby, the school community liaison to describe the event.

“It was refreshing; it was encouraging,” said Hullaby. “The new police chief [McIver] was roaming the halls of the schools, he was introducing himself, he was having conversations. He was IN the building. When he left, the kids knew who he was. His police officers were very kind. They were having conversations, and it’s important to build those relationships. Our students should not be afraid of the police. It was a very good experience watching them deal with our students,” she said.

A field day activity for students with special needs, called Sail into Summer, will be coming in May.

“This is targeting our students with physical and/or cognitive disabilities that, a lot of times, regular school field day activities are something they can’t access,” said Melanie Lewing, special education supervisor. Permission letters will be sent home before the event. The southend of the parish will be held at Lakeside High School on May 5, and the northside will be held at North Webster High School on May 12. 

The employee of the month, school expenditures, and One District, One Book will be related in future Minden Press-Herald articles. 

The school board’s next meeting will be held on May 1 at 6 PM. The public is welcome to attend.