Public school enrollment rises

DEIDRE CRUSE, Governmental Reporter

Enrollment in the Iberville Parish School System has increased by more than 350 students this year, Superintendent P. Edward Cancienne Jr. announced after the second day of classes last week.

The gain in public school attendance was a bright spot in a smooth school opening. Dr. Cancienne said that, thanks to a diligent maintenance staff, he had had no complaints about malfunctioning air conditioners. Transportation also is working well, he said.

“I think we've got a very good start,” the superintendent said.

“This is the first time in many years that the student population has increased, and we attribute this to a master plan built on high expectations and public support for quality public schools,” Cancienne said.

As of August 12, the unofficial enrollment was at 4,459 students, compared to 4,107 on the second day last year.

The increase will mean about $1 million more in state funding this year. The state Department of Education will calculate exact funding based on enrollment as of October 1.

“This new enrollment of students to our parish public schools will bring with it additional funding at a crucial time,” Cancienne said.

The parish operates nine schools. Most of the increase occurred at the Math, Science and Arts Academy-West, which added grades K-5 this year, the superintendent said.

“We have been communicating to the community through numerous methods but nothing speaks louder than results,” says Cancienne. “Parents are hearing the results, the new choices; and they have high expectations for their children too. We want all children to have options and we are continuing to instill rigor within all of our schools.”

For example, Cancienne said, a new three strikes discipline program will bring additional learning time to students at Plaquemine High School.

There is more construction continuing at schools than administrators had wanted, but teachers and students were working around it without problems, the superintendent said.

In 2008, Iberville Parish voters passed a 31-mill property tax to pay for new facilities, new programming and new technology.

“Construction is partitioned off, and the flow is working well,” Dr. Cancienne said.

A new Early Childhood Center opened last week at Iberville Elementary School, where some construction continues. A parental enrichment center is part of the facility.

An athletic facility, additional classrooms and a welding and pipefitting center are under construction at Plaquemine High, while an elementary school gym, parking facilities and other facilities are underway at MSA-West.

New technology and wireless capabilities are in the works at all schools.