We have had a very active start to spring activities with the Special Legislative Session on the budget and working to make sure we preserve the MFP funding along with a new BESE board. LAP also held a STEM workshop in Baton Rouge in January that provided site based and district level administrators with information on STEM and how to implement programs in their districts and schools. It was so successful that we are planning on holding the same workshop this summer in the Shreveport area—be on the lookout for more information soon!
At the March 3rd and 4th BESE meetings in a surprise vote, the BESE board demanded that Superintendent John White strike a controversial voucher report from its agenda and rewrite it to more accurately depict the voucher program. Scott Richard, Executive Director for Louisiana Association of School Boards pointed out the report’s biggest contradiction, a claim that voucher schools are saving the state money because tuition costs at voucher schools can be lower than the per-pupil amount sent to public schools through the Minimum Foundation Program. Mr. Richard presented a report from the Legislative Fiscal Office noting that reductions to the voucher scheme would actually save the state money. Superintendent White’s voucher report also concluded that voucher students perform at increasing academic levels, even though a series of recent studies show that voucher students actually lag far behind their public school counterparts. When the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education was asked to receive White’s report, At-large Member Doris Voitier said that if receiving the report means BESE endorses it, it would have to be revised to reflect the Legislative Fiscal Office’s comments. White responded that the report is the Department of Education’s and not BESE’s. “This does not have to go to BESE for approval,” he said, adding that there “would be no consequences” for receiving an inaccurate report. BESE board member Doris Votier said “Whether or not we accept the report, it is misleading,” she, and urged White to rewrite the document. District 5 Member Gary Jones moved that the item be stricken from the agenda, and Voitier amended the motion to require a rewrite. The amended motion was approved by all 11 members without opposition.
In other BESE action, a standstill $3.7 billion funding formula for the state’s public schools was approved by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and forwarded to the legislature for debate in the regular session that begins on March 14.
Following a marathon 12-hour session of committee meetings, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved a set of revisions to math and English language standards. The changes are intended to end a long running controversy over Louisiana’s participation in Common Core state Standards, replacing some of the national goals with state-specific standards. They were written by groups of teachers overseen by a 26-member panel called the Standards Review Committee. Superintendent of Education John white said that final adoption of the new standards will probably come in July. With school slated to begin shortly after that, Louisiana Association of Principals (LAP) and Louisiana Association of School Superintendents (LASS) spoke at the meeting and stated that implementation of the new standards should be delayed until the 2017-18 school year. Otherwise, they say, the new standards could bring the same confusion that implementation of Common Core caused last year.
The Special Legislative Session ended March 9th with cuts and some increased taxes, however they did not cover approximately 40 million of cuts that will have to be addressed in the regular session that begins on March 14th! We are hopeful that the MFP will remain intact and we will be present during the session to make sure your voice is heard. Please check our website www.laprincipals.org for legislative updates during the session!
At the national level we are continuing to work with our national organizations on implementation of ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) and our President Elect (Nikki Fryou) and our Federal Relations Coordinator (Martin Guillory) joined principals from across the nation at a National Leaders Conference in Washington DC March 13-15th) to discuss with our Senators and Representatives the monumental tasks that our principals face each day!
We also want to remind you to save the date for our FALL 2016 conferences, which can be found on our website! Please mark your calendars for the following Conferences:
Annual Principals Conference—September 11th- 13th—Baton Rouge—L’Auberge Casino Event Center
Annual Assistant Principals Conference—November 7th—Baton Rouge--- L’Auberge Casino Event Center
Annual Clerical Conference--- December 5th----Lafayette--- Doubletree by Hilton
I know that this time of year is stressful due to testing and the many things that must be completed prior to the end of the school year--- we appreciate all that you do! This is going to be a difficult legislative session due to the deficit that existed along with the 40 million that was not addressed in the special session. LAP will be working with other education organizations to preserve PreK- 12 education funding as well as addressing any laws that will have an adverse effect on educators! Please encourage your co-workers to become members of LAP--- the more members we have the more our voice is heard! We are the only organization that is affiliated with the national principal’s organizations (NAESP and NASSP) and we advocate for principals/site based administrators at the national level also!
Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or concerns regarding the legislative session or any other issue that you think we should address.
Wishing you all the best as you move into testing season!