School board approves personnel moves

Michael Tortorich

The Ascension Parish School Board approved administrative changes set for the coming months in its meeting Tuesday night in the Courthouse Annex in Gonzales.

The board accepted the retirement of longtime employees Mary Virginia “Ginger” Weber, supervisor of career and technical education, and Frances “Fran” Hidalgo, supervisor of elementary grades.

Weber will retire effective July 2.

Superintendent Donald Songy said Weber is known across the state as a leader in education and she has been called on by other districts to help start new programs.

Songy said she has been a dedicated and loyal employee of the school system over the years.

When board president Ed Price asked for any opposition to accepting Weber’s retirement, many members of the audience jokingly opposed.

“Lots (of opposition) in the audience, but they don’t count,” joked Price.

Hidalgo will retire effective June 30.

Songy said Hidalgo has “left a mark on the parish” in her years with the school system.

“We’re really going to miss both of you,” Price said.

The board approved the advertisement of both positions. The starting salary for both is advertised as $77,582. The deadline to apply for both is Feb. 27 at noon.

The board also named Marilyn Washington as coordinator of student attendance and Amanda Mayeaux as coordinator of school improvement. Both take effect July 1.

Both Washington and Mayeaux have been working in those positions since they were removed as assistant principals at Donaldsonville High School in December.

In other business, 23rd Judicial District Attorney Ricky Babin asked the board for assistance in funding the 2009 operation of the District Attorney’s office.

Babin asked for $20,000 for attorneys and juvenile officers in schools.

Babin said the district, which includes Ascension, Assumption and St. James parishes, works some 24,000 cases a year on a budget of about $2.7 million.

Babin said his primary office is in Donaldsonville, which is centrally located to the three-parish area.

In another matter, Gonzales-based communications company EATEL presented  $6,000 toward a digital media program.

EATEL public relations coordinator Meghann Hebert presented a check to the school system.

The money went toward cameras, lighting and green screens for the program.

“We truly appreciate their support of public education,” Songy said of EATEL.

In other presentations, the board honored Gonzales Middle School eighth grade student Dylan Estrada and Central Elementary paraprofessional Janelle Brant for their recent awards.

Joey Nassar, assistant band director at St. Amant High School, was recognized for winning a School Band and Orchestra magazine award. One director is chosen from each state. A St. Amant director won for the second straight year.

The board also recognized East Ascension High School’s Arienne Marie Ferchaud, a finalist in the National Achievement Scholarship program.

“When we see this sort of achievement we realize how fortunate we are,” Songy said. “It is truly what makes this system great.”

In another matter, the board heard from Clay Stafford, clerk for the City of Gonzales, on a proposed pedestrian sidewalk adjacent to East Ascension High School.

The city and the school system are working on a right of way permit and servitude agreement, which will be on the March 3 meeting agenda.

In other news, supervisor of maintenance Jeff Parent said the district will look into improving energy management in its schools.

Parent also reported the athletic tracks at East Ascension and St. Amant high schools have been completed and are being used.

The board also had a caravan tour Tuesday afternoon of the district’s three new schools, which are currently under construction.

Central Primary in Gonzales, Lakeside Primary in Prairieville and Spanish Lake Primary in Geismar are three of the six new kindergarten-fifth grade schools that were approved to be built.

Pecan Grove Primary in Gonzales and Prairieville Primary opened in August.

The sixth school, Orange Grove Primary, is scheduled to open in 2010.