City schools to get playgrounds, instructional coaches added to all schools

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At the School Board committee meeting Tuesday, Financial Director Lee Waskom outlined upcoming projects at City schools funded by the Dist. 9 bond. The measure was confirmed at the regular meeting Thursday. Eloi said one project was a playground at LP Vaughn for every grade level. “We’re going to get a playground,” he said. He said some beautification projects would also happen at all City schools. “We’re also going to be investing in the arts,” Eloi said. He mentioned music programs at NJH and East and enriching the programs already in place. “By next school year you’re going to see some easy reminders that the money has been well spent,” he said.

See a complete list of all projects and their timelines below.

Eloi said a hallmark for the strategic plan for the district is instructional coaches. There will be one in each school with some like LPV and Natchitoches getting more than one. A new job description will be presented next month. They will instruct teachers and assimilate data. “It’s about doing it right. They’re going to be working hard,” Eloi said.

He stated they are copying from the DeSoto school district playbook that rose from a D to an A district by utilizing instructional coaches properly. “We are working step by step to get the right people. Too often districts throw money at positions, don’t do it correctly or get the wrong people and nothing changes. We want to pull these people in, where they’re able to coach teachers, deal with the data, create the proficiency exams where we can tell quarter to quarter if the student is learning or not learning and then we can respond,” he said. He said teachers are constantly in professional development.

The instructional coaches could receive the training and take it back to the school level. Board member Billy Benefield said, concerning a previous position of Master Teacher, that was ultimately discontinued, “I’m not sure they were deployed correctly. I think they were used in overflow and absences and were not deployed correctly.”

The instructional coaches will not be subs or on duty and Eloi stressed they will cast a wide net to find the right people for the position who will “get in the trenches” and do the job assigned to them. “We want the best and brightest we can afford,” he said. “It’s got to be the best person for the job. It’s got to be apolitical or it’s not going to work.”

The position will be funded by Title I and the State with only 25% of the burden placed on the district’s general fund.

In weekend print edition Feb. 6-7, 2021