The Lafayette Parish school system is adjusting its assistant principal ranks to relieve disciplinary burdens at four high schools after an assist from the School Board.
Acadiana High, Ovey Comeaux High, Lafayette High and Northside High were allotted additional part-time assistant principal positions to address the workload associated with discipline referrals; each school had on average two discipline referrals per student during the 2018-19 school year.
Based on school population, Acadiana High had roughly 3,500 referrals, Comeaux High had roughly 2,750 referrals, Lafayette High had about 3,900 referrals and Northside High had about 1,300 referrals, using school population data from the Louisiana Department of Education.
School Board members unanimously approved a $180,000 budget revision to fund the positions in November.
School Board President Justin Centanni, of District 6, brought the initial proposal in October after conversations with Lafayette High Principal Rachel Brown. They decided it would be beneficial to have additional help to alleviate the “crunch” of the disciplinary workload after the school’s assistant principal allotment declined due to rezoning and the shift of its arts academy to Ovey Comeaux High.
Assistant principals are traditionally allotted using a formula based on the school’s population size.
After discussions, Centanni said the board found other schools felt the same way.
Centanni said the School Board didn’t want to change the formula for how assistant principals are assigned but wanted to provide extra aid to schools that needed it. The School Board didn’t find a correlation between student population size and the number of discipline referrals at all schools.
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The School Board president said the goal is to free up the workload and allow members of each school’s administrative team to focus more on instructional leadership, classroom observations and other duties. A desired byproduct is that they’ll also be able to deliver more effective interventions to drive home the need for good behavior to students, he said.
“Setting expectations is of paramount importance. Students need to understand what’s expected of them educationally and in discipline. Holding them accountable for those expectations will lead to better outcomes,” Centanni said.
Jennifer Gardner, the school system's chief administrative officer, said the additional funding allowed the school system to turn part-time assistant principal positions at Acadiana High, Comeaux High and Lafayette High into full-time positions and allot an additional part-time assistant principal position at Northside High.
Assistant Principal Sherri Livesay is now at Lafayette High full time after splitting time between there and Acadiana High; Matt Shumaker is moving to Comeaux High full time after splitting time between there and Carencro High; and Melissa Dyson moved from Alice Boucher Elementary to Acadiana High, Gardner said.
A part-time assistant principal is being hired to assist at Northside High, and will also fill Shumaker’s vacancy at Carencro High, she said.
The extra administrative help will be a boost to the campuses, Gardner said.
“Any time you add an extra administration member to a team it’s always a benefit to a school,” she said. “You have more hands managing the pot to be able to handle the kids and to support the school.”
Centanni said the additional positions will be reconsidered during the budgeting cycle for the next fiscal year, but if it’s a successful strategy he doesn’t see why it wouldn’t continue.