OPELOUSAS — The controversial Common Core tests took center stage at Thursday’s St. Landry Parish School Board meeting, but also of interest were the retirements of two school officials who had gotten into a fight on campus.
The School Board accepted the retirements of Opelousas Junior High Principal Jude Victorian, effective Feb. 2, and Ricky Reed, the school’s head coach, effective Jan. 14.
Superintendent Edward Brown said the men were suspended indefinitely with pay after the incident. At the January School Board meeting, some parents asked the board to reinstate Reed because of his good relationship with the students.
Brown said in an interview Thursday that advertisements for the principal’s position at the junior high will be requested at next month’s meeting.
On the Common Core matter, the School Board passed a resolution asking the state to advise parents that school performance scores could be affected depending on how many students opt out of the statewide PARCC tests that students in grades three to eight will take next month.
Students who do not take the tests will be given a zero score, parish testing coordinator Angela Cassimere told the board. Those zeros, if enough students opt out, could hurt the annual state performance scores for individual schools and the district as a whole.
The students will be tested on their command of the Common Core standards in math and English on the PARCC tests. The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers is the consortium of states that implemented Common Core standards and adopted the tests.
Cassimere said some parents have decided to let their children “opt out” of the testing after learning about Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposal to allow them to do so.
Many parents are opposed to the tests, and a contingent in Lafayette met earlier this week with state and local officials to vent their frustration.
Cassimere said she has been in contact with as many St. Landry parents as possible.
“I’ve spoken to a number of parents about some misinformation that is out there in regards to opting out of the test. I hope this will change their minds about opting out,” she said.
Cassimere said she has informed parents about the impact not taking the test will have on the district’s performance scores.
“If a child chooses to opt out, that child is still entitled to come to school and continue to take part in the instructional setting,” Cassimere said.
In another matter Thursday, the board accepted the low bid of $1.0482 million from Cohesive, a Lafayette-based company, to install wireless access in all the district’s schools.
Technology Director Johnny Ardoin said once completed, the Wi-Fi installations will allow students to use electronic materials instead of hardbound textbooks.
Ardoin said Cohesive’s bid was considerably lower than the AT&T bid of $2.62 million for the project.
AT&T’s bid was higher, Ardoin said, because the company planned to use subcontractors for some of the work.
Ardoin said a federal grant will cover all but 16 percent of the project costs. The remainder will be paid by the district, Ardoin said.