In a rare morning meeting Wednesday, the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board quickly picked principals for Delmont and Melrose elementary schools.
Jill Saia and Nicole Banks, respectively, are taking the helm of those schools for the 2011-12 school year. Saia is a professional-development specialist with the school system, and Banks is an assistant principal at Capitol Elementary. They are replacing Dawn Brewster and Janet Harris, respectively.
The appointments were made on an interim basis, as has been the case with all principal appointments made since Superintendent John Dilworth announced he will leave when his contract ends in June 2012.
Wednesday’s special meeting was called in part so Delmont could have a principal named in time for a teacher fair aimed at attracting teachers to the school and five others being reorganized, said School Board President Barbara Freiberg.
That fair took place Wednesday next door to the School Board Office at the Instructional Resource Center. The fair focused on displaced teachers from Delmont, Capitol, Merrydale and Park elementary schools. The fair continues Thursday for displaced teachers at Mayfair Middle and Glen Oaks High schools.
Other principal changes are in the works, including filling a vacancy at Glen Oaks High.
Dilworth told the board Wednesday he has yet to settle on someone for that job, but hopes to have someone to recommend by next week.
Dilworth also said he’s looking for a new principal for Scotlandville High School.
On June 2, the School Board, at Dilworth’s recommendation, reassigned the principals at Glen Oaks and Scotlandville high schools to Valley Park Alternative School, with Scotlandville’s Ernest Morris serving as Valley Park’s new principal and Glen Oak’s Wilbert August as assistant principal.
Pam Mackie, who’s led Valley Park for the past few years, recently took over as the head of the Career Academy, a new Baton Rouge charter school to start in August.
Saia, the new principal at Delmont Elementary, has a long association with National Board certification, a special certification for teachers with at least five years of experience. Teachers who successfully complete the arduous process can get stipends of at least $5,000 a year.
Saia ran the state office overseeing that certification process before joining East Baton Rouge Parish a few years ago to do the same thing.
Board member Jerry Arbour asked Saia on Wednesday whether she planned to have a school full of National Board-certified teachers.
“Yes, sir,” Saia said.
“Do the rest of the principals know that?” Arbour asked.
“They do now,” she quipped.
Saia said the plan was not just to recruit National Board-certified teachers, but to grow them.
“One of the requirements of being at Delmont is you need to go through the National Board process at some point,” Saia said.
After the meeting, Saia said having a faculty of National Board-certified teachers is a key aspect of a federal school improvement grant the school is receiving.
Delmont is one of six low-performing schools receiving almost $7.4 million the next three years, according to a May 9 notification letter from the state Department Of Education.
Delmont is receiving $425,000 a year for each year of the grant. The other schools receiving grants are Capitol, Merrydale and Park elementary schools, Mayfair Middle, and Glen Oaks High.
In return, the schools promise big changes in the way they operate and changes in personnel.
Two of the East Baton Rouge Parish schools that applied, Istrouma and Tara high schools, were rejected for the grant.