Vernon Board Launches 2023 School Year

The Vernon Parish School Board’s two August meetings were focused on the opening of the school year, August 21
Vernon Parish LEAP scores from 2022 showed marked improvement in grades K-3 according to Elementary Curriculum Director Ann Smith, noting that all Vernon Parish schools are above state averages. Smith pointed out English,Language,Arts (ELA) scores in K-3 grew from 45% Mastery levels to 57% Mastery, putting the parish 15% above state averages. Smith also noted secondary LEAP scores showed growth in five of six areas.
Special Needs/Title One Director Leslie Ortiz reported special needs enrollment down from 2022.  Fourteen Vernon Parish schools will share federal Title One monies this year.
The Board heard from Maintenance Director, Dwain Ducote  that Vernon was one of only 30 districts in the state to receive a Stronger Connections Grant in the amount of $518,000.00.  This money is for increased security at all Vernon schools.  Security firms will be visiting schools in September to make their assessments.
The Transportation Committee accepted bids for an activity bus for Simpson School.  One bid was submitted by Russ Bus and Equipment of Alexandria for $75,000.00.  The bid was for a used 2019, seventy-seven passenger, air-conditioned bus.  Transportation Supervisor Raymond Haymon requested the Board look into a bus maintenance facility and an 18’x40′ RV canopy.
Last week Haymon issued parish-wide measures for bus riding to combat the excessive heat.  Parents are encouraged to send a water bottle to school with their children.  All schools will allow students to fill bottles or they will supply one for them.  Drivers will be parking buses in available shade and leaving windows down before loading students.  Drivers will be allowed to carry small ice chests with them.  School nurses will be reviewing symptoms of heat stroke with transportation personnel.
During the meeting August 3rd, the Board called for a bond election in District Seven (Rosepine) for the purpose of a new cafeteria and kitchen at Rosepine Elementary and re-roofing Rosepine High.  Rosepine Board Member John Blankenbaker called for a public meeting on the issue and stated that new facilities were badly needed.  A general obligation bond will be announced at the Board’s next meeting September 7.  That meeting will be at the School Board Central Office at 10am.