Superintendent of Schools Al Simmons Speaks at Kiwanis Club Meeting

Al Simmons, Superintendent of Schools, spoke to the Kiwanis Club, Tuesday, December 14, 2021. Simmons said we have a very good educational system here. We have been known for excellence for many years. He attended school in Winnfield, graduated in 1986 and then graduated from LSU. He followed a tradition of a family involved in education with his grandparents and great-grandparents being involved in the educational system in Winn Parish. He taught and coached at Crowley High School for 3 years and returned to Winnfield in the mid 90’s to be close to family. He was Assistant Principal at the Kindergarten school, then was Assistant Principal and Principal at the Intermediate school. In 2007 he became the Personnel and Transportation officer at the Central Office.

He opened the floor for questions. A question about enrollment told us that there was a 7% drop in enrollment 2 years ago. The average drop is ¾ to 1 point. There are just under 2000 students in the parish schools. We have about 30 – 40 home school students. They are not part of the parish school system and if they are not enrolled in a home school program they will not receive a high school diploma but will have to test for GED.

He said there is a push from state and national agencies to produce a product in the school system. This product is people ready to go to college. In a little history on education, Simmons said that public education began to teach people to read so they could read their Bible and live good lives. Educated people are required for a self-sustaining government. In Louisiana early education was Catholic. The schools were associated with Catholic churches.

Children who are learning remotely to do learn as well as those who are under a classroom teacher. Because of remote learning many children are behind in their learning.

In a joint project of the La. Dept of Health and LSU Health Sciences 40 – 50 students are checked each week for Covid. This program is all over the state and is a volunteer program. Parents sign to have their children checked and the same children are checked every week.

The question was asked about year round school. This is called the balanced calendar with quarterly breaks. This is not something that will happen here any time soon.

The school board has the responsibility for the number of schools. The general fund budget is the struggle because 75% is salaries and related benefits. The budget has been balance for the past several years and will be balanced this year.  The more schools you have the more teachers are required.

It is difficult to get teachers in our area. It is even difficult to get student teachers. La. Tech is the #1 teacher education program in North Louisiana and they pass many schools before they get to Winn parish. Northwestern is graduating less education students now than in the past.

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