Plan Presented To Save Lake Charles Boston High School

May 31, 2007
Reported By: Lee Peck

Overall low performance and declining attendance are two of the main reasons Calcasieu Schools Superintendent Wayne Savoy has recommended closing Lake Charles Boston. His plan would transfer LCB's 374 students to primarily schools of their choice around the parish. Savoy's plan proposes turning Lake Charles Boston into a parish-wide academy of learning, for technical skills, the arts, advanced studies and distance learning.

In opposition to this plan are the school system's four African American board members. Calling a special board meeting Thursday night, they told the other side of the story.

"Superintendent Savoy's plan cuts the heart out of the school and it's a plan that our community would not like to see happen," said School Board Member Clara Duhon.

After a lot of soul searching and research, they say they have come up with a formula to return academic excellence to LCB. Proposing the following:

Proposal 1: Make Lake Charles Boston High School live up to its heritage by focusing on educational developmental activities that empower teachers to teach and that empower students to learn, to achieve, and to become productive citizens.

Proposal 2: Keep LCB a comprehensive high school.

Proposal 3: Add schools of Advance Learning to the overall basic curriculum that currently exist.

"Mr. Savoy. I believe we can make the necessary repairs," said School Board Member Fredman Hardy.

Also presented were Researched Based Principles for School Improvements at LCB.

Principle 1: All students at Lake Charles Boston can learn. The primary focus shall be on what, and how much children learn.

Principle 2: Children at LCB can learn at much higher standards regardless of their race or ethnicity, family income, gender, primary language, or disability.

Principle 3: Learning is a complex process interrelated with all aspects of development, including cognitive, affective, social and emotional development.

Principle 4: All students do not learn in the same way or at the same pace.

Principle 5: Learning is active. It requires effort and resilience on the part of the student as well as interaction with teachers, parents, texts, materials, and/or other learners.

Principle 6: Learning depends on a foundation of factual knowledge, the understanding of concepts in context, and the organization of facts and concepts, so that they can be retrieved and applied.

Principle 7: Learning is not limited to school. It can happen anywhere.

Most of their recommendations come from the school's 2006 Scholastic Audit. To implement the audits findings they are asking the curriculum and instruction committee of the CBSB and LCB community and representatives to establish a stakeholders' implementation team by the end of June 2007. This team would be comprised of students, core teachers, counselors, parents, community representatives, board members and college professors.

Also in June, they want the CPSB to begin advertising locally and regionally for highly qualified administrators. This change would also sign administrators and teachers to three to four year contracts to better build relationships with students.

"I'm going to start with the first things we have to have -- administrative efficiency. If we have a principal who is not an efficient leader, we're naturally going to have problems," said Hardy.

They also propose changing LCB's student schedule configuration from a straight six hour schedule to a four by four schedule.

By July 2007, they want to develop a school-wide "Positive Behavior Support Plan" that expressly defines school discipline for students and adults at LCB. This would address school attendance problems among other things.

Develop a plan for entry level pre-assessment of grad level expectations in all four core subjects for all students.

August 2007: Set up a school opening clinic/retreat that is school specific.

But if this plan is to work at LCB, they say they need the community and parents on board.

"If you notice we have PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT in bold letters. We think that is the most important ingredient that may have been missing there. We need to get the parents back to the school," said School Board Member Elray Victorian.

"I got 100 letters in the mail yesterday from parents. I don't know of any other time that would have happened. It's opened a lot of parent's eyes in our community and we can't thank you enough for that," said School Board Member Mack Dellafosse.

The plan also recommends redistributing LCB's finances for administrators, by providing two counselors, 8 tutors, three teacher assistants, and two behavioral specialists. This change would save the school system nearly $100,000.

After hearing their presentation for saving LCB, Superintendent Savoy feels his recommendation is in the best interest of students.

"When you have a school in academic decline, there are a lot of things that the school system cannot control. And there are some things that we can control. I think their plan addresses some of the issues we cannot control," said Savoy.

Both plans for change at Lake Charles Boston are now in the hands of the full school board, which make a final vote Tuesday at their regularly scheduled meeting. Because of the amount of people expected to attend, Tuesday's meeting will be held at LaGrange High School's auditorium.