(The Daily Advertiser) – Lafayette Parish teachers, students and principals have shared their thoughts and concerns with district officials over the past several weeks.
They are part of five advisory committees, whose members are chosen by fellow administrators, educators and students. This year, the committees include eight principals, 39 students and more than 40 teachers.
A series of committee meetings recently concluded, with another round set for the spring.
According to meeting summaries, members raised a variety of issues. Among them:
Elementary students want more math resources and technology. They want more investigations into bullying. They don’t like to hear cursing on school buses. The gyms need air conditioners. They’d like more exposure to French, cleaner bathrooms, locks on bathroom stalls and more time and food to eat at lunch.
Middle and high school students want more flexibility in the district’s dress code, including an option to wear black pants. They want more and better technology and textbooks, and more incentives for good performance. It’s frustrating to run to class in the rain, especially with mesh backpacks that make books wet and heavy.
Teachers from middle and high schools are curious about how new attendance zones will change school performance scores. They also want to know more on how school staffing will be adjusted after the new zones are implemented. Principals also have questions about staffing changes.
The committees are organized by Superintendent Donald Aguillard’s office. Aguillard attended all committee meetings, along with other central office supervisors.
“It gives me an opportunity to get in front of employees or students and really listen to the concerns and suggestions they might have,” Aguillard said. “It gives me an opportunity to reflect on the issues they bring. It helps me identify opportunities to improve the district.”
Addressing the issues can take many forms. Sometimes, it might result in a policy suggestion going to the Lafayette Parish School Board. It might be listed as something to consider in budget discussions.
Other times, change can come more easily.
For example, Aguillard said that in one committee meeting, students said three minutes was not enough time to change classes.
The day after the meeting, Aguillard met with Chief Administrative Officer Joe Craig and surveyed schools.
“We sent a directive that the minimum transition time needed to be four minutes at the high school level,” Aguillard said. “We cleared up something. The kids were really being asked to do an impossible task in less than three minutes.”
Aguillard said some of the most common concerns from teachers stem from misunderstandings about practices, policies or expectations.
“We really listen very carefully to every comment raised, and when we can clarify things, we send out memos to make sure everybody is on the same page,” Aguillard said.