CPSB Approves School Choice Plan - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

CPSB Approves School Choice Plan

June 1, 2004
Reported by Pam Dixon

Starting this fall, if a Louisiana school is deemed a school in need of improvement or academically unacceptable, parents can transfer their children to another school. The Calcasieu Parish School Board Tuesday approved its plan that will give parents a choice if their child's school is failing.

Calcasieu Parish has three schools that received "academic warning" labels last year in the state's accountability program, Molo Middle, Reynaud Middle and Lake Charles Boston High. If the schools don't make enough improvement in their school performance scores when the new numbers come out in July, parents can request transfers to higher performing schools. Schools superintendent Jude Theriot says he doesn't think it'll come to that. Theriot says, "Our preliminary numbers show that none of our three schools that have a potential of going into school improvement two will fall into school improvement two. We will be officially notified in July by the state."

Even if no school falls into a failing category, the school district has to come up with a school choice plan incase it happens. Under Calcasieu's plan, students at a failing middle school could request a transfer to S.P. Arnett, Maplewood, Moss Bluff, J.I. Watson or S.J. Welsh. Students at a failing high school could request a move to Barbe, Sam Houston, Westlake or Iowa. And transportation would be provided.

Accountability coordinator Judy Vail says, "We chose in Calcasieu to make the requirements for a receiving school to be a little higher. We believe that a receiving school needed to have a school performance score of at least 80 or above." And according to the plan, low income, low performing students would be given first priority in the selection process.

The biggest sticking point in the school choice plan had to do with incentives for teachers who help improve low performing schools. Board members plan to explore a plan for incentives at a future meeting.

The Calcasieu school system expects to submit its school choice plan next week to the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education for approval

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