Minden Press-Herald

Oct 02nd

Schools study on schedule

A study of the Webster Parish School System is on schedule, despite the lack of hours consultants have been able to spend while area schools were in session.

The study is being conducted by "The Peabody Associates" and is being paid for by Madden Contracting at the cost of $565,000.

"Most of the consulting days I expected we would spend in Webster Parish, about 85 percent have been done," said Dr. James Guthrie, study director. "There is no one task that is finished because they will not be completely finished until we submit the final report."

Guthrie said all aspects of the study have been started, and the final report will be ready in November.

The information studied will include the social and economic welfare of Webster Parish schools, student achievement and performance, financial resources and distribution, a survey of professional employees, curriculum and instruction.

It also includes special services to students (handicapped and advanced), central office management, parent and community engagement and satisfaction, relationship with government agencies, possible racial issues, if the district could now file for "unitary status," instructional capacities of facilities and recommendations on those topics.

Peabody Associates will also make recommendations that could be taken to better the schools, students and communities, however, the board is not bound to implement any suggestions.

"The real problem I have is not with the study but is with time," said WPSB Superintendent W.W. "Butch" Williams at a previous board meeting. "Right now, we are completely changing everything we have been doing in the past.

"Any information you get at this point will be null and void because the schools will change," he continued. "We are changing the principals, the teachers, the schools themselves, administrative staff.

In addition to Williams, central office faculty, administrators and other employees have expressed a desire to postpone the study for one year.

However, Guthrie said the specific team organized for this project might not be available at that time and that he feels the study is relevant now.

"What we are looking at has very little bearing on the consolidation," Guthrie said. "The study is looking at factors that do not represent individual schools or teachers, but rather looks at the district as a whole."

Guthrie said that despite early concerns that the study and consultants might not be well received, that has not been the case.

"Our people have been there and have been treated very nicely by the school district despite early concerns that we might have a rough time," he said. "People have been very cooperative."






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