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WPSB passes budget, discusses STD education

by Will Phillips

This month at the school board meeting, the fiscal budget for the years 2019/2020 was passed, faculties and schools were acknowledged for their accomplishments, and the potential of bringing STD/STI education to schools in the area was presented. 

The budget was one of the first items on the agenda and it passed unanimously without discussion. Afterward, Rodney Taylor of Taylor & Sons took the time to present Becki Brown, Staff Development Facilitator, her award for Employee of the Month.

Soon after Ursula Hullaby, Community Liasion, gave recognition to schools in both the northern and southern parts of Webster Parish in one of three categories: those being Cleanest School, Safest School, and Lawn of the Month. 

For southern Webster Parish, the winner of the Cleanest School was Webster Jr. High School and the winner of Safest School was J.L. Jones Elementary. For northern Webster Parish, the winner of Cleanest School was North Webster High School and the winner of Safest School was North Webster Lower Elementary. The Lawn of the Month accolade was awarded to Lakeside High School. 

Soon after, Iberia C. Watley, M.S., of the Office of Public Health Monitor to Syphilis Response Project addressed the board in order to try and persuade them to allow the Office of Public Health to provide STD/STI education to students in Webster Parish. “Our youth are engaging in high-risk activities that can cause diseases leading to unplanned pregnancies, stillbirths, sterilization, and even death. Louisiana’s 2017 STD/HIV surveillance reports rank Louisiana 2nd in the nation for chlamydia rates and 3rd in the country for primary and secondary syphilis and gonorrhea rates,” said Watley, “Combined there were 480,459 cases of sexually transmitted infection diagnosed in Louisiana, including HIV. Among that number, more than 50 percent occurred among young people between the ages of 15-24 years old. The lack of education and awareness in these areas contributes to these high rates.”

Given these shocking statistics, the Office of Public Health sent Watley to try and convince the board to allow them to educate students on sexual health. “Research has shown that programs that provide accurate comprehensive and developmentally appropriate information on sexual health result in healthier behaviors among youth, including delayed initiation of sexual activity,” said Watley. 

Near the end of the meeting, Superintendent of the Webster Parish School Board, Johnny Rowland took a moment to show his appreciation to those working in the Webster Parish School System. “Big thanks to our principals and all of our schools and their staff for a great start to the school year. We appreciate your hard work and diligence in making that happen for us,” said Rowland. 

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