BATON ROUGE — Louisiana’s top school board is about to consider several changes in the state’s new method for evaluating public school teachers. One of the changes includes making it easier for new teachers to land job security.
The issue is one of several high-profile topics to be discussed when the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meets on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The panel also will consider whether to revamp the role of counselors in high schools, get public input on funding levels of state aid for public schools and do its first, annual job review for state Superintendent of Education John White.
The state has about 55,000 public school teachers.
La. teacher retirements rise
BATON ROUGE — The number of teachers retiring jumped more than 25 percent as the administration of Gov. Bobby Jindal pushed an overhaul of public education that changes the rules on how teachers are evaluated. That’s according to the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana.
The number of retirements from public kindergarten through 12th-grade schools has hovered around 2,500 in recent years: 2,598 for the 2011 fiscal year; 2,512 during the previous fiscal year.
But for the 2012 fiscal year that ended June 30 — the most recent complete year — the number retiring from public systems jumped by 697 to 3,295, an increase of 26.8 percent in teacher retirements.
School superintendents say the retirements are putting a strain on school systems.
Green Beret to lead discussion
HOUMA — Henry Cook, who served as a Special Forces Green Beret for three decades, will be the featured speaker at Tuesday’s roundtable of the Regional Military Museum in Houma.
The session is set for 6 p.m. at the Houma library, 151 Library Drive.
More information is available by calling 985-385-2307.
Calcasieu Lock staffing could be cut
SULPHUR — The staff at the Calcasieu Lock could be cut by half within the next 18 months because less federal money could be allocated to its operation and maintenance, the Army Corps of Engineers says.
Lockmaster Kevin Galley told a ports group meeting this past week that traffic will experience slowdowns in going through the lock.
In a talk to the Propeller Club-Ports of Southwest Louisiana, he also said the heavy rainfall the area has experienced in recent weeks could lead to delays in traversing the lock for up to two months because of high water.
The lock’s main function is keeping saltwater out of the Mermentau Basin.
The lock, which has been around for nearly 70 years, is being operated past its expected lifespan of 50 years, Galley said.
State spent $668M on roads, bridges
BATON ROUGE — State officials say more than $668 million was spent on roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure during 2012.
Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Sherri LeBas says the money went to 372 improvement projects on more than 1,000 miles of roadways and 71 bridges in Louisiana.
LeBas said the state has reduced the backlog of road and bridge needs by nearly $2 billion. The department is responsible for more than 16,000 miles of roadway.
DeHart heads Terrebonne board
HOUMA — Roger Dale DeHart has been elected president of the Terrebonne Parish School Board.
Board members also selected Richard “Dicky” Jackson to serve as vice president.
DeHart served as board vice president in 2012.
Plant expansion nears completion
NEW IBERIA — Omega Natchiq Inc. expects to complete construction of a bigger fabrication facility during February.
Officials of the New Iberia-based oilfield service company said the facility is being built at a cost of about $5 million.
Company President Gary Buchanan says the facility will allow the company to move all of its subsea deepwater fabrication projects — now handled outdoors — into a more protected environment.
SCHRIEVER — Construction of an expansion has begun at Fletcher Technical Community College in the Terrebonne Parish community of Schriever.
Ground was broken for the BP Integrated Production Technologies Building this past week.
The $5.2 million building, which will house training equipment and classrooms, is partly financed by a $4 million donation from oil giant BP.
Firm seeks input on I-49 route
SHREVEPORT — Shreveport residents concerned about a potential Interstate 49 connector going through their neighborhoods have until Monday to voice their views.
Those who were unable to attend a December meeting on the issue can submit written comments about whether the connector should be built and, if so, which of the four proposed 300-foot corridors they prefer. Comments can be sent to the engineering firm Providence by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail in care of Inner City Connector, 1201 Main St., Baton Rouge, LA, 70816.
Rapides Parish seeks China link
ALEXANDRIA — The Rapides Parish Police Jury is a step closer to becoming part of an educational, cultural and commercial partnership with a Chinese city.
A jury committee approved a motion brought to the panel by state Rep. Herbert Dixon, D-Alexandria, to support efforts to build a sister community relationship with the city of Shangqiu. The full Police Jury will vote on the resolution next week.
The relationship would emphasize building mutually beneficial opportunities in trade, cultural and educational exchange and tourism.
A dialogue about a possible relationship between the regions began when several Central Louisiana residents participated in a trip to China last March. In September, a delegation from Shangqiu, including Mayor Yu Xueyou, visited central Louisiana and signed a letter of intent to pursue a partnership.
Air traffic surge expected in B.R.
BATON ROUGE — Baton Rouge tourism and airport officials are preparing for a large influx of traffic through the city because of the Super Bowl in New Orleans on Feb. 3.
Some of the heaviest traffic will come through Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport, where officials and businesses are expecting as many as 250 additional planes that will need to be parked during the event.
Ralph Hennessy, the assistant director of aviation at the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport, said the additional traffic through the airport would be “spillover” from New Orleans.
When New Orleans runs out of space to house aircraft, Hennessy say some of them will be diverted to Baton Rouge and other airports in the region, such as New Orleans Lakefront, Houma, Slidell and Hammond.
From The Associated Press.