St. Helena Schools Update

It’s been a while since we’ve reviewed how things are going in this parish located northeast of Baton Rouge.

St. Helena school to stay in RSD

A federal district judge said Monday he has the authority to transfer the state-run St. Helena Central Middle School back into local School Board control but he’s not going to do so right now.

St. Helena Parish school system officials argued that the district’s dramatic improvement in state test scores, coupled with a financial turnaround from the brink of insolvency, proved that local officials know best how to improve parish schools and should be given a chance to do the same for the middle school.

But U.S. District Judge James J. Brady, who oversees the parish’s 60-year-old desegregation case, said during a status conference that he wants to see a longer track record of success before he considers removing the middle school from the Louisiana Department of Education’s Recovery School District.

Brady granted the RSD’s request to take over St. Helena Central Middle School in May 2010, following five years of failing scores and one year under a state-mandated agreement outlining performance goals.

St. Helena Central Elementary School and St. Helena Central High School, under School Board control, have outperformed the RSD-run middle school, School Board attorney Nelson Taylor argued in his June 27 motion. And the disruption of continuity as students move back and forth between the two districts has been detrimental to the children’s education, he said.

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