On Saturday, the Lafayette Parish School System held a Board Retreat at the South Louisiana Community College campus. The event lasted all day and was open to the public. No decisions were made at the event. That was not the purpose. The retreat allowed open conversation, questions and answers regarding some of the toughest issues facing Lafayette Parish Schools.
One of those road blocks, referred to at the retreat as "Big Rocks" dealt with over age school children. These are the students with deficits in any of the core subjects. They are not in classes with their own age group because they have been held back for one reason or another. Assistant Superintendent, Sandra Billeaudeau, presented a powerpoint presentation on what can be done to bring the children back to grade level. There are 937 over age students currently enrolled in Lafayette Parish Schools; 215 Elementary students, 610 Middle School students and 112 High School students. That number alone could fill the NP Moss Opportunity School campus. Billeaudeau says, "we all have skin in the game, its our moral and ethical responsibility to help our kids become successful."
One of the proposals on a list of many: increase the number of Alternative Education teachers. This solution comes with a price tag, but so do many of the other suggestions mentioned at the retreat. Dr. Pat Cooper, Superintendent of schools, says that the NP Moss Opportunity School and more Alternative Education teachers will decrease the number of over age students.