Schools recognize volunteer efforts

Michael Tortorich
Jessie Joseph, a volunteer at Lowery Intermediate in Donaldsonville, accepts the volunteer of the year award for the district at the Ascension Parish School Board meeting Tuesday night at East Ascension High School in Gonzales.

The Ascension Parish School Board honored volunteers from across the parish for their efforts during the regular meeting Tuesday night at East Ascension High School in Gonzales.

The volunteers work through the statewide Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana organization, known as A+PEL.

Jessie Joseph, who volunteers at Lowery Intermediate in Donaldsonville, received a standing ovation after she was named the district volunteer of the year.

A+PEL president Kaci Chidester and vice president Jodi Gremillion gave each of the volunteers a gift bag.

Superintendent Donald Songy applauded the efforts of all of the volunteers.

He said the work they do in schools would cost “hundreds of thousands of dollars” if they were paid.

Songy also noted the morale boost volunteers give to teachers, and the help they provide to students.

“From the bottom of my heart, thank you for what you’ve done,” Songy said to the volunteers.

In another presentation, the board recognized the winners of the Louisiana School Boards Association’s artwork contest winners.

The district had a winner in every level for the first time in years of competing, according to Cathy Meredith.

Christopher Stafford, a St. Amant High School student, won first place for his entry. Alexa Burns, a Carver Primary student, and Carly Lyons, a Dutchtown Middle student, also won awards in the contest.

“We consider the arts just as important as everything else,” the superintendent said.

Songy also expressed his pride in the parish’s representation at the recent state school boards conference in Lake Charles.

In another matter, the board approved a resolution to the City of Donaldsonville opposing the rezoning of property adjacent to Donaldsonville High School.

The zoning ordinance involves the sale of alcohol close to the school.

In another announcement, Songy said the district will be able to meet with the delegation of legistalors from Ascension March 25 at the Holiday Inn in Gonzales.

He said they will be able to express what they feel will be important in the upcoming legislative session.

In another update, Songy pointed out that the LEAP test date moved back three days.

He also said EATEL, a Gonzales-based telecommunications company, will sponsor a recruiting event for math and science graduates from LSU March 26, in the hope of recruiting new teachers for next school year.

In another report, Songy said more meetings will take place to discuss plans for stimulus money.

He said state superintentent Paul Pastorek will hold a meeting in Alexandria, and any development would be given during the next finance committee meeting.

In other action, the board decided not to meet April 7 since not enough members will be available to meet quorum.

In advance of the meeting, the board approved the advertisement of bids for furniture for schools.

In another matter, the board found out that the projected costs for building the new Orange Grove Primary School increased some $500,000.

The $13.1 million estimate is now projected to cost about $13.6 million.

Orange Grove is the final school to be built using revenues of a bond sale approved by voters in 2005.

The school will be located on 10 acres outside of Sorrento near Hwy. 22.

Renaissance Development Group, which plans to build a 135-acre subdivision with 349 homes, donated the site.

The school will accomodate between 350 and 500 students from kindergarten through fifth grade.

The district plans to open the school for the 2010-11 school year.

In other matters, the board:

• Received an update from board member Taft Kleinpeter on the public address system at St. Amant High’s football stadium. He said the entire system needed repair and the project is out for bid.

• Acknowledged the STAR students in attendance from Dutchtown, St. Amant and East Ascension high schools. The program is for students interested in careers in education.

Christopher Stafford