School’s back in session

Like it or not, only one thing can really break the boredom of the summer months for kids and teenagers: the start of a new school year.

School began Tuesday for students in Terrebonne Parish and will commence Friday for students in St. Mary and Lafourche.

“I’m always excited about a new year,” said Ed Richard, Terrebonne Parish schools superintendent.

Richard no doubt has a few things to be eager about.

He’s overseeing a new $192 million school district budget. Six elementary schools in the district received modular buildings over the summer, mostly to accommodate a population spurt in the northern part of the parish.

Kim Hebert, a science teacher at Coteau-Bayou Blue Elementary School, was named Louisiana’s 2008 Elementary School Teacher of the Year.

This year, five schools in the district will have master teachers-in-school educators who help guide the efforts of other teachers. Richard, who was shooting to have eight, expressed dissatisfaction about three of the targeted schools not getting master teachers. However, he shouldn’t be disappointed considering that School Board President Hayes Badeaux opposes increasing the number of master teachers in Terrebonne Parish schools.

The district needs to focus on improving students’ math skills, since math scores have been below the state average for the past two years. More positively, Richard is to be encouraged for making the development of reading skills a priority, instituting an illiteracy symposium for language arts teachers over the summer.

The St. Mary Parish school system is also to be applauded for trying to foster reading skills. The district is spending around a million dollars to put in place the “Fast Forward” reading intervention program at all elementary and junior high schools after a trial run with the program proved successful.

Like the Terrebonne system, Lafourche Parish schools are preoccupied with constructing add-on buildings to deal with overcrowding. Superintendent Jo Ann Matthews said she is satisfied with how the system is faring, affording the district the opportunity to strive for the fuzzy goal of improving student/teacher relationships.

To comply with state guidelines, both St. Mary and Lafourche have had to increase the number of mandatory attendance days for students. Expect Terrebonne to follow suit.