District moving ahead with four-day school weeks

Published 12:27 pm Saturday, May 18, 2024

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VIDALIA, La. — A four-day school week previously approved by the Concordia Parish School Board is expected to be in full swing next academic year without legislative interference.

Louisiana SB 66 introduced by Republican Senator Beth Mizell, which provided for a mandatory five-day school week for all Louisiana public schools, failed to pass in the senate with 22 nay votes and 17 yeas.

School Board President Lisette Forman kicked off Thursday’s school board meeting with a simple response to questions from the school district as to whether the plan to have a four-day school week was moving forward.

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“We’re doing it. That’s it,” she said.

The school calendar approved by the school board does not begin a four-day week schedule until after Labor Day. Students would then resume five-day weeks in the month of April before state testing. Then the school year would end for students on May 23, 2025.

With this calendar, 15 minutes are added to each instructional day to maintain the same amount of instructional time as the traditional school year.

In other matters, the school board on Thursday also rescinded its previous approval to enter a six-month lease with the former Southern Design’s building in Vidalia to house its central office temporarily because installing the needed internet to the building would be too costly, Forman said.

“We’ve done some checking into it and the internet is going to be a very, very costly expense, which would make the Southern Designs building not a feasible way for us to go for the central office for at least six months,” she said.

Board member Fred Marsalis Sr. recommended, however, that “If negotiations come back on this, we contact the owner and see if they will take any of the responsibility (for the internet) because it would be a permanent fixture,” he said.

Superintendent Toyua Bachus also reviewed changes to Louisiana’s K-12 Accountability System.

Bachus said the new system equally weighs state test scores in social studies and science with math and English Language Arts, whereas before math and English scores were considered more. A score of Basic no longer earns the district points for proficiency because only scores of Mastery and above are considered proficient, she said.

The new system also raises the bar for ACT scores, which would need to be 21 or higher to earn the district points instead of 18 or higher.

The scoring of English Language Learners also plays a bigger role, Bachus said.

“As a district, I do not feel we are as prepared for this new system as we should be,” she said.

However, in a simulation with the new Accountability System using data from the last school year, Bachus said the district would be closer to a B rating than before.

“With the old model, we were nine points from a B. With the new model we’re only seven points away from a B because of the growth we’ve had consistently in history,” she said.

“I want this board to know that despite everything you hear about these changes — some good things about it and some bad — we as a district team are taking it extremely seriously.”