West Feliciana Superintendent Hollis Milton has been elected president of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents.

LASS has 70 members from across the state and its goals is to build coalitions with policymakers on educational issues. Milton served as the association’s vice resident last year.

“I hope to make a positive difference for the educators in our state,” Milton said. “I hope and I believe this position can further promote our school system and our parish, and I’m excited about any ways I can brand West Feliciana across the state. We have a great reputation, but it never hurts to remind folks where we are and what we do for kids.”

The term is for one year, following which, he will serve in an advisory capacity to his successor as past president.

Milton sees the upcoming fall elections for governor, Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and legislators as critical for education.

“We all want the same thing, which is to continue high-quality education for students,” Milton said. “My goal is to build relationships with those newcomers in office, to work with them and to let them know we want a seat at the table. I’m part of the implementation world and I will make sure there’s input from our educators and our parents on policies.”

Additional funding is a key issue and with increased costs, the challenge is to maintain standards or better yet, improve the quality of education, Milton said.

“We went to the legislature and did extremely well this year,” Milton said. “But they’ve given us a lot of mandates like implementing Common Core — we didn’t choose Common Core, it was chosen for us — and it cost a million dollars in a local district.”

Programs such as anti-bullying and ethics training require funding, but the important thing is to not take away resources from the classrooms.

Generational poverty is one of the biggest challenges faced in Louisiana, and early childhood development is critical to breaking that cycle, he said.

“Either we make that investment early on or we’re going to pay for it later down the road with unemployment, jails, welfare — all the social ills that are caused by a lack of education,” Milton said. “I want to work with all the stakeholders.”

Milton said he plans to build a database to survey superintendents, more than the past, to see where they stand on specific issues like when do they want to conduct standardized testing.

“It’s stronger when I say I’ve surveyed 69 or 70 superintendents and here’s what they say,” Milton said.