First school day assessment: Parish may hire more teachers
MORGAN CITY, La.-- Characterized as one of the smoothest openings to any school term in recent memory, St. Mary Parish personnel must now work out the normal kinks occurring at the beginning of a new school year — including the possibility of needing to hire more teachers, school officials said.
St. Mary Parish public school students returned to school Wednesday. Holy Cross Elementary first through sixth graders began school today, while pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students will attend starting Aug. 19.
Central Catholic High School students report Aug. 12, as do Immanuel Christian School students.
Morgan City Junior High Principal Kenneth Holmes reported no major incidents on the first day, just the normal questions of “where is this class?”
“We’ve gotten off to a remarkably good start thanks to all of our faculty and our staff. They are helping the students with all of their first day responsibilities,” Holmes said.
Margaret Manning, a teacher of sixth through eighth grade gifted students, agreed.
“The students were very well behaved with little direction (needed) … they complied with what they were asked to do and were not noisy,” Manning said.
Superintendent Donald Aguillard said enrollment in the public school system remained steady this year, as 9,113 students were signed up to attend across the parish for the first day. This is down only two students from the official count for the previous school year. Actual first day attendance was 8,516, he said.
Enrollment today rose to 9,180 and the actual head count was 8,794 students, Aguillard said.
An increase in student population is encouraging, but more teachers may be necessary to relieve classroom overcrowding, Holmes said.
“I am quite well pleased that our enrollment has skyrocketed. We’re over 600. We haven’t been over 600 in five or six years,” he said.
He attributed the increase to more people moving into the Morgan City community. The junior high takes in students from Amelia, Siracusaville and Morgan City.
The increase at Morgan City Junior and other schools, given the static enrollment number, is attributed to population shift, Aguillard said.
Schools with significant changes in first-day attendance include: Berwick High, up 25 students from prior year; B. Edward Boudreaux, up 19; W. P. Foster, up 25; Franklin Junior High, down 60; Franklin High, down 26; Morgan City Junior, up 39; Patterson Junior, up 18 students; West St. Mary High, down 45, Aguillard said. These numbers do not indicate overall enrollment increases, only first-day attendance.
Aguillard concurred with Holmes’ assessment of the new school year.
“The first day of school went very well,” Aguillard said. “Many principals characterized the start as one of the smoothest openings to any school term. First day attendance showed 8,516 students. This number is down 192 students from the prior year first day enrollment count,” he said.
Schools are being asked to contact any first day “no show” students to encourage attendance, the superintendent said.
As for district staff, Aguillard said minor transportation issues are being resolved by the transportation department, and maintenance personnel were out in full force Wednesday checking air conditioning systems.
Meanwhile, the personnel department is monitoring class size counts to evaluate the need to hire additional professional staff, he said. The school system hired about 80 new teachers after cutting 24 teacher positions during the budgeting process, Aguillard said.
“These new hires are in addition to the staffing reductions. New hires were needed to fill openings due to retirements, resignations, etc.,” he said.
Aguillard was unsure this morning how many new hires are from outside the parish.