The Livingston Parish School Board promoted their supervisor of instruction to the position of assistant superintendent Thursday night.

Joe Murphy will fill the post once held by Tommy Cothern, who retired last month to open a technical school in Hammond. Murphy will join fellow Assistant Superintendent Rick Wentzel.

“I am very thankful and very grateful to serve this district,” an emotional Murphy said in an interview shortly before he was confirmed during the board’s Thursday evening meeting.

He noted two particular issues he and the school system will have to face in the coming years. The first is the growth of the parish’s student population, especially in the Walker area. According to the school system’s website, student enrollment across the parish has increased by about 400 students each year for the past decade.

Murphy also hopes to work toward getting the funding necessary to put a school laptop or tablet in each child’s hands.

“We are moving quickly toward a technology … enhancement for our children across our district,” Murphy said.

“That’s how this generation communicates. That’s how they learn.”

Murphy has been with the parish school system for 23 years and served as principal of Southside Junior High School between 1999 and 2006 before taking the job as supervisor of instruction. He also served as a substitute assistant superintendent for a year when Cothern took a leave of absence to work on his doctorate degree.

The school system also considered Human Resources Director Bruce Chaffin for the assistant superintendent position. Superintendent John Watson said during the meeting that both men’s qualifications “did not make it an easy decision.”

Watson ultimately recommended Murphy, who was unanimously approved by the board, minus absent members Jan Benton and Sid Kinchen.

In other news, the board unanimously voted to include electronic cigarettes in the school system’s tobacco policy. Under a set of revisions, students and employees will now be barred from possessing personal vaporizers and similar devices on school grounds. Wentzel said the policy change is in response to recent state legislation that bans the possession of such devices among minors.

The board also approved next year’s school schedule. First semester classes will begin Aug. 7 and conclude Dec. 18. The second semester will run between Jan. 7 and May 23.

Follow Steve Hardy on Twitter, @SteveRHardy.