June 16, 2017


JEFFERSON, LA – After six months of meeting and working towards recommendations to better enhance the Jefferson Parish School system, The President’s Task Force on Education presented its findings and suggestions to members of the Jefferson Parish School Board, the business and civic communities, and Administration at the Joseph S. Yenni Government Building. The goal of the Task Force is to work together as a collective force with the school board, superintendent, economic development, and civic and business group representatives to create a cohesive plan to attract new residents and retain those who currently reside in Jefferson Parish by improving education.

President Michael Yenni said, “I firmly believe that we all have a role in education as it relates to economic development. I also believe it is critical to our parish’s future that our school leaders set quantifiable goals with a defined timeline and action plan. When I was a candidate for this office, I made education a platform plank in my campaign announcement address. At that time, I mentioned it was time to reverse the trend and bring new families home to our Parish. Among their biggest concerns is education. Today is the major step toward this office extending a helping hand to our schools and our school Superintendent. I am proud of the members of this task force for your volunteerism and dedication to improving our Parish. I appreciate your support and time. ”

During the presentation, Task Force Chair and Chief Administrative Assistant, Dr. Diane Roussel, stated, “We all want all eligible pre-K children to be enrolled in pre-K and Kindergarten because we know they will out-perform students who haven’t been in pre-K. We all want every child to read at an early age, the earlier the better. The Task Force believes in providing parental choice in education and believes that quantifiable goals are necessary for success.”

Dr. Roussel presented five key recommendations to the audience which was the culmination of the collaborative work of the task force members. Each of the recommendations have been thoroughly agreed upon based on the findings of task force meetings and needs of the school system.

Recommendation 1: Attract more qualified teachers, and improve retention

Recommendation 2: Increase Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten enrollment until all eligible students are served and able to read on-level

Recommendation 3: Uproot failing schools and accelerate transitioning from failing schools to charters within one year of a school failing

Recommendation 4: Create and adhere to an annual action plan with definable goals

Recommendation 5: Acquire industry and market research through business partnerships

Of the 20-member task force, 13 were in attendance including Patsy Green (on behalf of Senator Conrad Appel), Marie Clesi, Jerry Daul, Tony Ligi, Dr. Vinicio Madrigal, Natalie Newton, Mayra Pineda, Darryl Ward, Louis Thomas, Jackie Jones, James Garvey, and Raymond Griffin. Also in attendance was former school Superintendent James Meza.

Jefferson Parish Schools Superintendent Isaac Joseph stated, “When I took this job in 2015, I quickly learned we cannot do this alone. It is important of us to know we have a community that is very engaged in the school system. Early childhood education is the biggest investment we can make. We want to be an A-rated school system and we have the capacity to do such.

Tony Ligi of the Jefferson Business Council stated, “Don’t let anyone say they don’t have an interest in public education. We all have a stake in this. We cannot afford to provide public education students with a mediocre or failing system.”

Among the solutions presented today, Task Force members will recommend and institute an aggressive teacher recruitment campaign in partnership with economic development powerhouses JEDCO and GNO Inc. Under the leadership of Chief Administrative Assistant Darryl Ward, Jefferson Parish Head Start will enter into a cooperative endeavor agreement with the Jefferson Parish School System and other organizations, such as churches, to reduce costs, allowing the Parish’s and School System’s lead pre-K and K programs to accommodate more children. The Task Force members encourage the Jefferson Parish School System to reallocate funds to include the most children possible in pre-K and K because that will result in more academic success for those children in future grade levels.

It was recommended by the Task Force the Superintendent’s quantifiable goals and objectives (due dates, persons responsible, resources needed, and completion dates) be evaluated at minimum on a quarterly basis by the Superintendent’s administrative team and that the results should be shared with the community. The Task Force recommends the Jefferson Parish School System expand its portfolio of schools including charters, magnets, career, themed, specialty schools, and language immersion schools.
Members of the Task Force and members of the Jefferson Parish Administration will assist the Jefferson Parish School System by assigning top administrative assistants to help the Superintendent recruit and attract successful, schools of choice with proven records.

The Task Force members believe the Superintendent and members of the board and administration need to have access to either industry trend research or market research, both of which would help them define objectives and set expectations. The Parish administration will seek private/public partnerships to fund a comprehensive, baseline study of our system and attitudes and opinions toward our system.

James Garvey, a member of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), stated, “I can say as part of this task force, I have seen fresh faces that I have not seen before trying to bring resources and knowledge to the efforts to improve public education here in Jefferson Parish.”

The Task Force will now meet on a quarterly basis to evaluate the recommendations given to the school system and reconvene meetings as needed at the request of either the school system or the Task Force itself.

To view the video in its entirety, it will be broadcast on JPTV, and be made available on www.jeffparish.net. A copy of the press conference will be available upon request.