DayeTime: A look at the new Avoyelles Parish School Board
There have been several “newsy” tidbits concerning the Avoyelles Parish public school system in the past week or so.
First, the big news was the house-cleaning mood of voters on Nov. 6. That, combined with the decision of three board members not to seek re-election, sets the stage for six or seven new board members when the new terms begin in January.
Lizzie Ned, who represents the Bunkie area, barely forced a runoff with primary leader Chris Robinson. Robinson garnered 49 percent of the vote and needed only 50 percent plus one to take the seat on Nov. 6.
Of course, as they say in football, “that’s why we play the game.”
For example, Avoyelles beat Jena, Marksville beat Avoyelles and Jena beat Marksville in this past high school football season.
Dec. 8 will be a different day. Turnout -- which was already only 42.6 percent in that district -- will most likely be even less. It will come down to whose voters go to the polls.
A favorite guessing game after an election is “Why?”
My guess is that the public was so tired of the 50-year-long desegregation case that was dismissed on Oct. 17 that they decided to get rid of anyone that reminded them of that suit.
That included Allen Holmes, who became lead plaintiff in the suit in 1987 when the federal court implemented a consolidation order that closed several schools and removed high school grades from several others.
Holmes was running in a district with no incumbent and came in third. Because of his long-time involvement with the school district, he was the closest thing to an incumbent on the ballot and met the same fate as the other incumbents.
Maybe there were other reasons for the voters’ decisions, but that looks like a good bet to me.
On a more positive note, the Avoyelles Parish School District improved its ranking among the state’s 69 public school districts in the School Performance Score for this year.
The results are in and will be the subject of an article in this Sunday’s Avoyelles Journal,
I can say that the results are encouraging and show that efforts to strengthen students’ achievement are paying off.
The downside of so many current members leaving in a few months is that the current board is pretty much blocked from making any plans past Christmas.
So there won’t be any discussions over the next six weeks concerning community K-8 schools, magnet programs, etc. Those topics will have to be put on hold until the new board members take their seats.
Most likely it will be a few months after that before they will have their “sea legs” and be ready to tackle any meaty issues concerning the school system’s future.
I’ll close with one of those “wouldn’t it be nice if” comments that pop into my head from time to time.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the Avoyelles Parish School System had a vital, energetic and successful Partners In Education program?
PIE is a program in which a business, industry or organization becomes a partner with one or more schools.
The business partner provides funding for special programs or equipment, holds such things as Teacher Appreciation Day events, awards scholarships in the high schools or incentive prizes in the elementary schools, etc.
Yes, our businesses already do a lot for the public schools with their taxes and by providing jobs that strengthen our economy.
PIE programs are a way local businesses can become more individually involved in the public education system that will eventually produce most of their future employees.
By investing in students’ future today, the businesses are actually investing in their own future.
That’s an issue Central Office staff could look into during the transition from the old board to the new one since it doesn’t really take any board action to get underway.
It’s also a program that one or more Chambers of Commerce or even one or two large corporate citizens could organize.
Other school districts have this kind of program. I was involved in coordinating and promoting it when I worked for the Rapides School District 20 years ago. My fuzzy memory makes me think Avoyelles had a business partners program during that time, but I may be mis-remembering.
Maybe one of our neighbors could offer some assistance in getting a PIE program started.
The most important thing would be to have willing partners who could commit the small amount of funding and the more significant amount of volunteered time and interest in the schools they “adopt” or “partner” with.