The Lafayette Parish School Board plans to choose a new superintendent before the end of the school year.
Board members met Wednesday for a continuation of their orientation of the school system but before that started, they discussed a timeline for the search that could end with a vote on a new school system leader by May 22.
The board’s deadline is guided, in part, by interim Superintendent Burnell LeJeune’s announcement Feb. 4 that he plans to retire this summer, ending a 40-plus career in education.
Board President Tommy Angelle told board members there are requirements for advertising the job that the board must follow, such as placing ads to run at least twice within certain timelines in the official journal of the parish, which is The Daily Advertiser. Angelle said the board should also advertise in The Advocate and The Times-Picayune.
The first ads could run as soon as Feb. 20 with a deadline for applications on March 25. The first round of interviews could begin as soon as the end of April, based on the timeline.
The School Board’s last superintendent search was in 2011 and lasted four months. It involved public interviews between board members and the top 10 finalists. The top three finalists were interviewed again and participated in a public forum held in November 2011. The board selected Pat Cooper in December 2011 and fired him three years later on Nov. 6, 2014.
The last search involved the public with two community members serving on the selection committee, public interviews and a forum with the finalists.
Based on the timeline released Wednesday, the public will have a chance to “meet and greet” the finalists during a second round of interviews scheduled May 11-16.
LeJeune’s retirement sped up the School Board’s search process. Last month, board President Tommy Angelle told The Acadiana Advocate that he was hopeful the board could set aside a search until the new school year or even January 2016. He said he wanted the additional time to allow the new board to adjust and grapple with an expected budget shortfall.
On Wednesday, the board received an overview of the school system’s academic departments as part of new board members’ ongoing orientation of school system operations.
Educators stressed the importance of a “guaranteed viable curriculum,” a term that means a standard curriculum that produces results, said Sandra Billeaudeau, assistant superintendent.
“If I’m at Alice Boucher and transfer to Green T. Lindon, I should expect that a teacher at Alice Boucher was teaching to the standard, using the same materials, so when I go to Green T. Lindon, I’m not lost,” Billeaudeau said.
The school system has implemented new curriculum that is aligned with new learning benchmarks known as the Common Core State Standards. The standards and the test tied to them have come under fire by some legislators, parents and Gov. Bobby Jindal, who oppose them.
Schools have held math and English homework nights that targeted parents and for the past two years, the school system has held an “academic Super Bowl” for parents to learn about changes in the curriculum, said Penny Gennuso, math and science specialist for the school system.
Gennuso said the school district also collaborated with Vermilion and Rapides parishes to develop newsletters to guide parents through math lessons.
The school system also provides tutorial videos on math skills online, which parent Justin Centanni, a new board member, said he did not know about until Wednesday night’s workshop. He encouraged staff to improve efforts to share information about the resources.
Board member Dawn Morris asked staff about how they plan to reach parents who don’t have Internet service at home. Gennuso said newsletter info has also been printed and sent home with parents.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.