Former superintendent Laster has new job

Published 12:25 am Thursday, January 31, 2008

NATCHEZ — Former superintendent Kerry Laster has taken a job with the Louisiana Department of Education.

Laster is the executive director/assistant superintendent for literacy and numeracy for the state.

She works directly under Deputy Superintendent of Education Ollie Tyler.

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Laster, whose contract as superintendent was not renewed and later bought out in Concordia Parish, will be working to improve reading skills in kindergarten through fourth grades in all state public schools.

“We are trying to get all students to read proficiently by fourth grade,” she said.

Laster said she didn’t apply for the job and didn’t ask for it, but the offer was too good to pass up.

“I’m really excited,” she said. “I just really hope and pray that I’ll be able to affect change all over this state. And I’ll be in a better position to help schools in Concordia.”

Laster, a Ferriday High School graduate and Concordia native, said she’ll be working closely with 400 schools that are failing or low performing. That list includes several Ferriday schools.

One of her immediate goals is to keep initiatives in place because of federal Reading First grant dollars going without money. Two-thirds of Reading First was cut, but the state wants to pool Title I dollars with other funds to keep the programs in place, Laster said.

The position is a perfect fit for her, Laster said.

Her doctoral degree is in curriculum and instruction, two things the new job will focus on.

“It’s certainly my area of expertise,” she said. “We are trying to make change.”

Laster was the Concordia Parish superintendent for approximately four years.