Plaquemines’ Schools rank 5th in the stateOct 19th, 2011 | By William Dilella | Category: news, school news
In 2011, Plaquemines Parish continued to leap forward, jumping from it’s eleventh place spot in 2010 to fifth overall for the entire state.
Plaquemines Parish overall performance ranked it fifth in the state with a score of 110.8 for the collective school system, a jump of 6.7 points from 2010. And in 2011, five of the seven parish schools met their targeted growth for the year—Belle Chasse High School, Belle Chasse Middle School, Belle Chase Primary, Boothville-Venice Elementary, and South Plaquemines High School.
“We’re very proud and excited to be moving up from the number eleven position to fifth,” said Superintendent of Schools Denis Rousselle. “It’s due to many factors, but mainly the working relationship with the School Board to enhance our education system, and also, our relationship with local businesses and parents… we have great support in the community.”
Rousselle also lauded the efforts of FEMA and GOHSEP for the assistance with building up a functioning school system after the storm. But outside of the buildings, the people really make it all work.
“I have highly qualified central office staff,” Rousselle continued. “And they’re so open [with the schools]. We understand the needs of those individual schools… and [the School board] supports parish-wide programs,” Rousselle continued. “And when we need these programs, they support that and that’s really the success of the administration.”
“This is a team effort,” School Board President William Mertz said. “Everyone is involved in it—from the custodial workers and the school based employees, to the professionals, to the staff, to the board, and it is everyone heading in one direction.”
Mertz said that relationship between the Board and the superintendent and his administration is—like the relationship between the public and the schools themselves—dependent on constant updates and communication, and that is what has kept Plaquemines schools successful.
“[The superintendent and the board] talk almost daily and receive briefings… [PPSB] hired him to run the schools, and right now, he’s doing an excellent job at it.”
Mertz also said that a large part of the progress comes from the support of the community. And it’s not just with millage renewals to fund the process, but from the firm community foundation which fosters growth in the students. One of the comments made of the school system by the reviews, Mertz said, was that Plaquemines is a family learning environment.
“It is not just school and sports,” Mertz continued, “We have to give credit to the students and parents, it is not just teachers, the superintendant, the board, it is all a team effort.”
“We know where we are, and where we need to go,” Rousselle said. “If adjustments are needed, they will be provided. We understand the deficiencies and we understand what type of programs that are needed… everything is based on the data, and well-researched.”
As the School system endeavors for further progress, Rousselle noted that this attention, “It’s good for the people of Plaquemines… but there is always work ahead and we like those challenges.”
And as Board President Mertz said, “We’re a lot better off than most school systems.”
In the initiative to improve overall school performance, the Department of Education has assigned letter grades for individual schools over the last few years.
At the state level, slightly more than half of schools graded at C or above, which is an improvement over past years, but still leaves room for growth in the eyes of state officials. In 2007, 55-percent of Louisiana schools earned D’s and F’s. That number now stands at 44 percent.
“It is simply unacceptable to have 44 percent of schools earning D’s and F’s,” Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Member Chas Roemer said. “If we’re sincere about providing every child with the chance to attend a great school, we have to start by being honest and transparent about where we are and where we need to be. [By] holding ourselves accountable in the same way we hold our children accountable sends a strong message that we won’t be satisfied until all our students attend A+ schools.”
The grade system is actually broken into two parts. The letter grades are determined by BESE set numeric scale, and the plus or minus following a letter grade denotes whether the school improved toward their goal in 2011, or declined from the 2010 baseline numbers. Plaquemines Parish received a B rating for it’s score of 110.8.