DONALDSONVILLE — Ascension Parish schools earned praise for fiscal responsibility and collaboration, but should work on addressing the needs of all students, whether underperforming or gifted, according to its accrediting agency.
A Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ team will recommend re-accreditation.
The eight-member committee visited the district this week, and delivered a preliminary review at a special School Board meeting Wednesday.
The team will write a more complete report within 30 days, which will be forwarded to the SACS’ national board for a final vote on their recommendations in December or January, said Kathy Sergeant, leader of the SACS team.
SACS requires a site review once every five years to maintain accreditation.
The review gave the district kudos for its programs and initiatives but recommended some quality control measures.
The district needs to develop a district-wide system to evaluate programs and make sure they’re yielding results in the classroom, the report stated.
“We’ve taught teachers to teach well,” said Assistant Superintendent Steve Westbrook. “We still need to guarantee that students are learning it.”
Superintendent Patrice Pujol said she sees the report as a strong indication that Ascension public schools are headed in the right direction.
“We’ve got a lot of things going on (in the district.) We need to take a big look across the district at every piece of that, and make sure it is adding value,” Pujol said.
In its last site review, SACS noted a disparity between new school buildings and the system’s older schools, some of which were built as early as 1926, said Johnnie Balfantz, spokesman for the school district.
A $100 million bond issue passed by voters in 2009 gave the district funding to renovate those older buildings and update electrical systems to accommodate modern technology, he said.
Ascension schools earned SACS commendations this year for a “well thought-out” plan to keep pace with technological changes that the site team viewed as a culture of collaboration, both within the school district, and with the surrounding community.
The four-day visit covered 101 classrooms and included interviews with board members, 86 teachers, 81 students, and 64 parents, community and business leaders, said Sergeant.