School Superintendent Grant Eloi said the system is down 164 students this year. Statewide that number totals 13,986 for a loss of $74,025,600 in Minimum Foundation Program(MFP) funding. MFP is a formula calculating what it costs to provide each Louisiana student with the minimum educational foundation necessary for future success.
“Some districts lost 1,000 students or more,” Eloi said. He expects the loss of students is due to virtual education, state online programs and simply not attending due to COVID fears among other things. Students are tracked by their records. Records remain with a school district until requested by another private or public school. When the records aren’t requested and that student is not being educated in the parish, that student becomes “missing.”
Eloi said parish numbers were above 200, but through diligence, over 40 students were located and identified. He said for those students not attending school, they will exhaust every means before reporting them truant. “We will also offer learning loss strategies and remediation. We have after school and summer classes to meet all education needs including social and emotional.”
Eloi said the parish has seen some quarantines due to COVID. “Overall, we haven’t seen an increase of illness within congregate settings. We have issued quarantines to err on the side of caution,” he said. The system cannot disclose names or identify the exact student or staff member prompting the quarantine due to HIPAA regulations. The student or individual may not have even tested positive, but may have someone in their household or have come into contact with a friend or relative that is positive. He said quarantines have strict guidelines that range from seven to 24 days.
“It depends on the situation. Little or no symptoms equal a shorter quarantine of seven or 10 days,” Eloi said. The age of the person in question is also a factor. “The younger kids simply can’t comply with some of the precautions such as masking up all day,” he said.
The district has hired a full time Registered Nurse, Brandi Fredieu, to contact trace the incidents. Fredieu speaks to parents directly to discuss their questions and concerns.
Eloi said if COVID cases continue to decline, he sees virtual learning transitioning from a right to a privilege, possibly as early as summer school. He said the entire process of completely changing the way education is provided was done in a very short amount of time. “We literally created a new school with a different modality of teaching in only two months,” he said. “And yes, we do plan to keep a form of it available for certain circumstances.”
Recent data shows most students are reading below level statewide. Eloi has an innovative plan for addressing the situation. “Traditionally, we do what we refer to as a postmortem assessment of data. It comes after LEAP scores are released. We are implementing Renaissance, which includes Star Math and Star Reading that are aligned with LEAP.” Eloi said the program allows teachers and principals to review data on a quarterly basis. “It would show them where (LEAP) testing would be if taken that quarter and provide insight into what areas need additional instruction.”
He calls this the “Skinny Period” where additional enrichment would be provided. “It gives data as early as October so we know where they are as far as being LEAP ready. We can address the specific needs of individual students,” he said. Eloi said grades on a report card are good benchmarks, but are not enough to assess the current curriculum. “Students must understand what they’re being taught. We have too many students that are making good grades, but aren’t doing well on the LEAP. We must ensure grades are based on understanding the material.”
He said the program is a year-long venture to make teachers, principals and others more aware of the standards and data and create the right vehicles by which the student may grow to meet standards. The program allows not only for grades, but points out each student’s progress each quarter and accentuates student growth.