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Superintendent to be named Thursday

VIDALIA — The new Concordia Parish School District Superintendent hired next week will have to wait a bit before his or her office becomes unoccupied.

That’s because the school board plans to have the new leader in place before retiring Superintendent Loretta Blankenstein even leaves.

The school board will interview candidates on Monday and name the new superintendent at a specially called meeting on Thursday. But the quick turn over is no surprise to Blankenstein, who was prepared for Thursday’s meeting to be her last.

“I feel like we’ve made lots of progress, and these board members want to continue moving everything forward,” Blankenstein said. “I walked in here earlier to move some chairs around and thought about it being my last school board meeting.

“It feels good, but a little sad as well.”

One of the three applicants for the superintendent position, Director of Academic Programs Paul Nelson, said he was excited to be in the running to lead Concordia Parish schools.

“This is an excellent opportunity to lead the district in the right direction and show some improvement for all of our students,” Nelson said. “I grew up here, my children go to school here, and I’ve worked here for 20 years.

“It’s very important to me on many different levels.”

The interview process will be handled in executive session at 6 p.m. on Monday and the announcement will be at a public meeting at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

Blankenstein’s last day is June 29.

In other news from the meeting:

With a unanimous roll-call vote, the board agreed to join the Louisiana School Board Association in a lawsuit against the state.

The lawsuit, which has gained support from several other school boards in parishes across the state, challenges the voucher program and other education reforms recently passed by the Louisiana Legislature.

At issue are changes to the state’s elementary and secondary school funding formula that will pay for a statewide voucher program, online schools, college tuition scholarships and an expansion of charter schools.

Also targeted are changes made to teacher tenure and salary law, to make it harder for teachers to reach the job protection status and to get rid of statewide pay scales for teachers.

“Many of these things affect the school system financially and in many other ways,” Blankenstein said after the meeting. “All of the school board members, and our staff, watched the legislative session very carefully.”

The Louisiana Federation of Teachers also filed two lawsuits in Baton Rouge district court. The lawsuits say the changes violate constitutional provisions governing the passage of legislation and governing the school financing formula.

The school board association’s lawsuit is expected to be filed by June 29.