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Photo of child riding horsebackThey typically do not get the chance to enjoy the same summer camp experiences as other children their age, but thanks to the combined efforts of Bossier Schools’ Evaluation Center and Greenacres Middle School, that changed for a dozen Bossier Parish students with disabilities.

Two fundraisers held during the 2017-18 school year covered camp tuition and enabled 12 students to attend Camp Victory, a program of The Arc, held at Great Results Equine Assisted Therapies (GREAT) in Greenwood, LA.

GREAT is a therapeutic horseback riding center that offers camp experiences such as horseback riding, arts and crafts, nature studies, team building and a horse show and picnic. Talk about a GREAT summer camp experience!

“After learning about GREAT and Camp Victory, we knew this would be a wonderful opportunity for our students and this would be our Helping Hearts initiative,” explained Katye Hambye, Special Education Program Manager for Bossier Schools.

The Evaluation Center held a Kendra Scott jewelry raffle and Greenacres Middle School hosted a car wash and bake sale. Together, the two fundraising efforts raised close to $2,500.

Parent Jenny Stowell cannot say enough great things about her child’s experience at Camp Victory.

“GREAT has been a blessing to our family! As a family with a special needs child, we sometimes found it hard to find opportunities to participate. We heard about GREAT through other parents with special needs children. We jumped at this opportunity.”

Stowell added, “Our son first attended GREAT three years ago as a non-verbal, overly anxious child. After attending GREAT, now he is more aware of his surroundings, exploring different experiences, and while riding the horses he uses more initiated words. This is due to all the hard work of the counselors at GREAT that give extra love and support to all the kids at camp to make certain each camper feels welcome and accepted.

The fun is not limited to just the campers. Camp counselor Addie Mosura, a recent graduate of Airline High School, looks forward to Camp Victory each year.

“I remember being a camper at Camp Victory when I was seven. It has been a blessing to return and participate as a counselor,” Mosura said. “To see the interaction between kids with different challenges and abilities has given me a new perspective on the many ways people come together. Camp Victory will always hold a special place in my heart.”

It also lifts the heart of Caroline Hendrix, the Director of GREAT.

“Collaborating with other entities is a win-win for everyone! To see the smile on their faces when riding horses is priceless,” Hendrix said.

Posted 7/3/18

Photo of Superintendent handing award to Foster Campbell on stageA unique savings account created three decades ago to improve classroom instruction in Bossier Parish Schools has grown to $50 million, giving reason to  celebrate at a commemorative event June 26 and bringing former Governor Edwin Edwards to Bossier City.

The fund’s creator, Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, calls the Bossier Educational Excellence Fund, or BEEF for short, an “educational and financial success” and “a model for public investment in the future of our state.”

“What started as $500,000 in tax revenue from Louisiana Downs has grown with the addition of casino revenues into a $50 million investment in the youth of Bossier Parish,” Campbell said.

At the commemoration, Campbell praised the School Board for its management of the fund and those who helped him create it as a state senator in 1985.

“There were times when I feared that BEEF would be carved up and spent,” he said.  “There were times I had to fight to prevent raids on the fund to balance the State budget.

“Instead, school board members and superintendents through the years have helped me to protect BEEF and ensure that interest earnings only are spent, and only in the classroom.”

A former Bossier Parish school teacher, Campbell told how he persuaded then-Governor Edwin Edwards in 1985 to set aside $500,000 in yearly state tax revenue from Louisiana Downs to create a perpetual endowment for Bossier Schools.

"The Legislature had set aside racetrack funding for the City of Bossier City and the Bossier Parish Police Jury, but nobody was talking about our schools,” Campbell said.

“I persuaded Gov. Edwards to invest in the schools, and he even gave the fund its name: BEEF, for Bossier Educational Excellence Fund.”  At that time the Wendy’s hamburger chain had popularized the slogan, “Where’s the beef?”

Campbell, who served as District 36 state senator from 1976 to 2002, later amended the BEEF legislation to draw in state tax revenues from Bossier City casinos.

Former Gov. Edwards, who was in attendance at the commemoration, kept the crowd laughing as he praised Campbell for having the forethought to create BEEF and Bossier Schools for being a top performing district. He also pointed to a lapel pin, given to him by Superintendent Scott Smith, and quipped that the letters BPSB could stand for “best schools.”   

Though BEEF has now reached the $50 million mark, the principle is legally protected. Bossier Schools can only spend the annual interest on classroom enhancements; not salaries, capital outlay projects, athletics or recurring expenses.

Since its creation in 1985, Bossier Schools has received $7 million to pay for 100,000 hours of after-school tutoring, 1,500 computers, 40 digital “Smart” boards for teachers, software, music equipment and television production studio, and expanded art instruction.

“Public school systems have so many needs, yet lack the resources to fund them,” said Billie Jo Brotherton, Bossier Parish School Board President and District 1 representative.  “Thanks to BEEF, our district is able to fill many of those gaps without going to taxpayers for additional monies.”

District 10 School Board member Sandra “Samm” Darby chairs the board’s BEEF Committee. She cited a recent use of BEEF funding to help high school students pursue Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment courses, acquire Industry Based Certification or take the College Level Entrance Program.

“That amounts to a huge savings for our families, not to mention it better prepares our students for college and the workforce,” Darby said.

Bossier Schools Superintendent Scott Smith said BEEF has benefited every Bossier Parish student through the years.

“We remain so grateful to Foster Campbell for having the vision to establish this perpetual fund for the children of our parish,” Smith said.

In 1999, Campbell used BEEF as the model for a statewide endowment for education funded with an initial $1 billion allocation from the state’s $4 billion Tobacco Settlement.  Now the “Educational Excellence Fund” provides dollars for classroom instruction in public and private schools throughout Louisiana. Its current balance is $476 million.

“The same principle applies to EEF as to BEEF: Only the interest earned on the fund is spent, and only on approved classroom instruction,” Campbell said.

The Louisiana Department of Education reported that $58 million in interest earnings from EEF was available at the beginning of the 2017-18 fiscal year for spending by public, private and charter schools.  EEF grants can go toward early childhood education, remedial instruction, instructional technology, career and technical programs, and other needs.

“BEEF and its statewide equivalent, the EEF, are two areas of public finance in Louisiana where fiscal discipline is applied and works,” Campbell said.  “I am proud that we have managed these funds wisely to benefit our schools and our children throughout Louisiana, now and into the future.”

Posted 6/26/18

Group photo of Benton Elementary archery team holding world championship bannerBenton Elementary is on top of the world after its archery team accomplished what few, if any, have ever done.

The Tigers staged a total shut-out at the NASP World Archery Tournament in Louisville, Kentucky, bringing home three titles; the World Championship in the bullseye and 3D competitions, as well as the Centershot World Bullseye Tournament. Yes, Benton Elementary achieved world domination across the board.

Hot on the Tigers’ heels was Kingston Elementary, which took second place honors in the bullseye and 3D. Bossier Parish middle schools also rocked the competition. Benton Middle came in second in the bullseye and third in the 3D, while Haughton Middle placed third in bullseye and fourth in 3D. The Buccaneers’ team of 39 archers especially shined at the Centershot tournament, where Haughton’s team took first place honors in the bullseye.

Several individual archers from Bossier Schools were singled out for their prowess with the bow and arrow and earned awards. Anna Young from Benton Elementary placed second in 3D overall female elementary archer; Hannah McKenzie, also from Benton Elementary, came in fifth in bullseye overall female elementary archer; and Emma Rutledge from Benton Middle claimed the fifth place spot in bullseye as overall female middle school archer.

It is safe to say Bossier Parish once again made its mark on the global stage in the world of archery. It was a lot of hard work, but it paid off and Bossier Schools congratulates its four winning teams.

Posted 6/13/18

Group photo of grant winnersThe Bossier Optimist Club has continued its commitment to educational excellence and successful student outcomes at Bossier Schools by awarding $28,000 in grant money to 15 teachers for classroom enhancements and programming.

In all, 65 Bossier Parish educators submitted grant proposals detailing various initiatives to improve classroom learning and increase student engagement. Monetary awards, ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 each, were doled out at a June 6 luncheon hosted in the teachers’ honor by the Optimists.

Recipients of this year’s Bossier Optimist Club grants are: Lea Anne Nelson, Curtis Elementary; Marissa Marrero, Sun City Elementary; Jessica Armstrong, Britney Bass and Angi Reger, Legacy Elementary; Lindsay Burns, Plantation Park Elementary; Joanna Racouillat, Meadowview Elementary; Shelly Malone, Benton Middle; Rebekah Gibbs, Elm Grove Middle; Kelly Birdsong and Charlene Cooper, Cope Middle; Beauchamp Powers, Haughton Middle; Hannah Hagerhjelm, Airline High; and Linda Finimore and Karyn Lipsey, Airline High.

Bossier Schools Superintendent Scott Smith praised the Bossier Optimist Club for consistently living up to its motto ‘Friend of Youth’ and putting its money where its mouth is.

“The Bossier Optimist Club is a true friend and partner to Bossier Schools,” Smith said. “The Optimists understand the importance of investing in our teachers and students in an effort to help them achieve success and that, in turn, benefits our entire community in countless ways.” 

The Optimists began awarding grants to Bossier Parish teachers in 1988 and to date has funded more than $459,000 in classroom enhancements. Each week, club members work Bingo games to raise money specifically for this grant program.

Posted 6/6/18

Photo of Spencer KiperThe annual Teacher Leader Summit in New Orleans got off to a great start for Bossier Parish Schools, when Elm Grove Middle School educator Spencer Kiper was announced as a finalist for the 2019 Teacher of the Year awards.

Kiper teaches STEM at EGMS and is the Bossier Parish Middle School Teacher of the Year. He advanced to win Regional Middle School Teacher of the Year and was then named a state semi-finalist.

Now, it's on to the state competition, where Kiper will be honored at a ceremony in July in Baton Rouge and Bossier Schools will be there to cheer him on!

Posted 5/30/18

Photo of Deputy Lonadier with Bossier Sheriff and Louisiana s GovernorBenton High's School Resource Officer found himself in Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards' company last week in Baton Rouge where he was named the "Deputy of the Year" by the Louisiana Sheriff's Association, an organization that represents nearly 14,000 deputy sheriffs statewide. 

Deputy Lonadier was selected for his selfless service and his passion for leading and mentoring the youth of Bossier Parish. Lonadier is a retired Deputy Chief from the Bossier City Fire Department and has been a SRO at Benton for two years and has nearly five years of service with the Bossier Sheriff’s Office.

“I really didn’t expect it, but it was quite an honor,” said Dep. Lonadier. “There are so many deputies who need to be recognized, but I’m real glad to represent the Bossier Sheriff’s Office and the people of Bossier Parish.”

Bossier Parish Sheriff Julian Whittington says it is easy to see why Lonadier was selected.

“Deputy Lonadier is caring and shows compassion as an SRO, and his commitment in working after hours on his own time with the students at ball games and fishing events makes him special,” said Sheriff Whittington. “You can’t train someone with that, you can’t pay them enough money…they just have to want to do it.”

As an SRO, Deputy Lonadier goes above and beyond his required duties by volunteering as a Boat Captain for the Benton High School Fishing Team, volunteering for batting practice for the softball team, and attending all extracurricular activities, even when he is not on duty. He is known for his proactive efforts in maintaining a positive rapport with students, parents, and community members.

“I think putting yourself in the students' shoes and remembering what it was like it in high school is important,” said Dep. Lonadier.  “You care about them, whether at school or away from school. You need to be genuinely honest with them, and they can sense when someone is simply going through the motions.”

Bossier Schools Superintendent Scott Smith said it is Lonadier’s commitment to keeping the Benton High campus safe and building relationships with the students that make such a difference.

“Deputy Lonadier is the epitome of what one would envision the LSA Deputy Sheriff of the Year being,” Superintendent Smith said.  “As School Resource Officer at Benton High, Deputy Lonadier makes student safety his top priority while, at the same time, building those important relationships and earning their trust. That is critical to fostering a safe campus environment. His efforts go far beyond school hours, though.  Deputy Lonadier invests his personal time sponsoring the school’s fishing club, serving as a positive role model and mentor to teens. This is just one ideal of many he possesses and why we at Bossier Schools are thrilled Deputy Lonadier is being recognized at the state level.”

Deputy Lonadier also goes out of his way to help in times of crisis. Particularly, last year, he spent his own time assisting in locating a pair of runaway twin boys. His relationship with these boys continued after they were found, as he was asked to serve as their mentor in the Camp Minden Youth Challenge Program. This involved not only spending his spare hours mentoring, but also volunteer hours of training before participating in the program, all of which he did without hesitation. This is yet another example of Deputy Lonadier’s selfless service and passion for influencing the youth of Bossier Parish. 

Deputy Lonadier was recognized during a trip to Baton Rouge and a visit to the office of Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards.  He was also commended on the floors of the Louisiana State Senate and House of Representatives.

While the trip to Baton Rouge was special, Lonadier’s heart and passion to serve lies in Bossier Parish.

“You’re part of the team at Benton High School, and this is a great place,” he said.  “I’m lucky to be here.”

The Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association accepts nominations each year from the state’s 64 sheriffs, and the winners are selected by the Sheriffs’ Awards Committee. The Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association is honored to highlight the meritorious contributions of Louisiana’s professional deputy sheriffs.

The Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association is a bipartisan organization, composed of Louisiana’s 64 sheriffs and nearly 14,000 deputy sheriffs, established to represent Louisiana’s chief law enforcement officers across the state.  The Association’s purpose is to maintain the constitutional authority of the sheriff as chief law enforcement officer, ensure the delivery of first-rate services, and to sponsor legislation that promotes the administration of criminal justice.

“We know all of our deputies are worthy of recognition, but to have Lonadier receive this honor for the entire state of Louisiana speaks highly of our Bossier Sheriff’s Office,” exclaimed Sheriff Whittington.

Posted 5/21/18

Cindy Emerson is pictured with SPED Director Lillian Holley holding a cookie cake.For someone who prefers to stay behind the scenes, Cindy Emerson found herself the center of attention not just once, but three times last week.

First, it was her birthday. It was also Mother’s Day. Then, she was surprised during a ‘supposed’ staff meeting at the Bossier Parish Evaluation Center and awarded Bossier Schools’ final Gold Star award for 2017-18 amid much fanfare.

“Y’all don’t know how much of a surprise this is and I do appreciate the accolades,” Emerson told her colleagues. “I’m not sure I deserve them, but I appreciate them. Thank you.”

Oh, but Emerson does deserve praise, the Gold Star award and more her co-workers will quickly tell you.

Emerson is the Special Education SER Compliance Analyst and has been a fixture at the Evaluation Center for all 23 years of her employment in Bossier Parish. She possesses so much knowledge her colleagues simply cannot imagine functioning without her.

Jill Hunter can attest to that, writing “Cindy is one of the most knowledgeable people at the Evaluation Center regarding the IEP system and what is required in order for our information to be in compliance. Any time someone asks her a question or has a problem, Cindy has an answer and an explanation. She never complains, and she takes pride in her job. Cindy’s position requires her to be responsible for endless amounts of data and paperwork, and I am always amazed at how quickly she can come up with numbers.”

Keeping up with endless data is right. With close to 6,000 children in Special Education, Emerson has a lot of I’s to dot and T’s to cross -- and it must be exact for Bossier Parish students to get the services they need and the district to receive the funding required to provide them.

“There is lots more we have to document and keep up with and graduation requirements for all the new programs they (state and federal government) are creating, so it stays very entailed,” Emerson said.”

Yet she does it all with a smile.

“She is one of the most kindest, patient people we have working here,” Special Education Director Lillian Holley said. “Every task she takes on, she does with excellence. She is always willing to help the 80 people that work in our building and she certainly keeps us on track.”

Emerson also burns the midnight oil, working well past quitting time on weekdays, many weekends and holidays to ensure there is no gap in services or funding.

As former Special Education Director Martha Jane Gormanous can attest, “In all the years since she was hired, Cindy has never missed getting funding for our Special Education students and she has worked many overtime hours in order to meet those goals, especially during funding times. Cindy  Emerson is a true asset to Bossier Parish and is the epitome of what a Gold Star employee should exemplify.”

We could not agree more. Congratulations, Cindy Emerson. You are truly Bossier Schools’ Gold Star!

 

Editor’s Note: A special thanks to Bossier Federal Credit Union for sponsoring the Gold Star employee award program for the last six years. Cindy Emerson was the 55th recipient of the Gold Star presented on behalf of Bossier Schools and Bossier Federal Credit Union.

Posted 5/17/18

Bossier Schools logoMoving to Bossier Schools? We cannot wait to meet you! Here is what you need to know to make it official.

New student pre-registration will be going on at all school sites from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 25-August 7.

Kindergarten students who did NOT pre-register in April can also do so at their school sites July 25-August 7. Kindergarten registrants must be five years of age on or before September 30, 2018. Screening will take place on one of these dates, August 8-13, and each kindergarten student will attend one full day of school.

All new students, including kindergarten students, must have a certified birth certificate, an up-to-date Louisiana health card and proof of residence. New students in grades 1-2 must bring previous school records.

The first day of school for students in grades 1-12 is Wednesday, August 8. Kindergarten students' first day is Tuesday, August 14.

Welcome to Bossier Schools!

Posted 5/11/18

Photo of Plantation Park Elementary principal receiving award from SuperintendentThey represent the best of the best in academics, job performance, work ethic and leadership.

Bossier Schools honored its 2017-18 Students of the Year and district Teachers, Principals and School Support Personnel winners at the Celebration of Excellence banquet, sponsored by Citizens National Bank.

The recognition ceremony held a special surprise for Plantation Park Elementary principal Tonya Hilburn, who was named the “Innovator of the Year” by Superintendent Scott Smith. Hilburn’s improved school performance score was cited, as well as her faculty’s outreach into the community as just a couple of reasons why she perfectly fit the district’s motto “Inspiration. Imagination. Innovation.”

A special thanks to the Benton High Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of band director Evan McCormick, for providing musical entertainment during dinner and much appreciation to Citizens National Bank for investing in Bossier Schools, not only as Celebration of Excellence sponsor, but in so many other ways.

Posted 4/27/18

 

Logo for Bossier Parish SchoolsOut of District forms will be available at all schools and centers beginning Tuesday, May 1, 2018.

The deadline to submit Majority to Minority (M/M) is Tuesday, June 5, 2018.

The deadline to submit all other Out of District requests is Tuesday, July 17, 2018.

Forms must be returned to:

Bossier Parish School Board/Annex II

P.O. Box 2000

Benton, LA 71006

Forms will not be accepted after the deadline.

Posted 4/13/18