State of Education showcases successes and challenges faced by Bossier Schools

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Lisa Burns, W.T. Lewis Elementary principal and 2019-20 Louisiana Elementary Principal of the Year, was one of the guest speakers at the Bossier Chamber's 2019 State of Education event. (Stacey Tinsley/Press-Tribune)

Top educational leaders from around Bossier Parish and the state gathered together Wednesday morning to paint a picture of the successes and challenges and faced by educators.

The Bossier Chamber’s State of Education address was held Oct. 23 at the Bossier Parish School of Technology and Innovative Learning (BPSTIL) to keep attendees up-to-date on all the new developments in the Bossier Parish education system and its role in developing and sustaining a quality workforce.

Bossier Parish Schools Superintendent Mitch Downey addressed the audience and explained what Bossier Parish schools are looking forward to as well as recent changes.  

These included building projects, attendance zones changes, hiring of more teachers, and ways the Bossier Parish School Board wants to work closer with the community. 

Bossier High Principal David Thrash was one of the guest speakers at the Bossier Chamber’s 2019 State of Education event. (Stacey Tinsley/Press-Tribune)

“A couple of projects that we have on the books are a wing addition at Haughton High School, which will include an administrative area along with 22 additional classrooms.  Another project is a Cope band room. The board is currently looking at additional classrooms at Benton middle,” Downey said.

He also said the board wants to host a town hall meeting Nov. 18, explaining, “We want to communicate with our partners of the community and get there thoughts and ideas and strengthen that collaborative effort.”

Guest speaker Bossier High School Principal David Thrash revealed that over the last 14 years, he has lost 109 highly qualified teachers.

“I lost five highly qualified teachers in two weeks prior to the starting of school. I say that to tell you this — we cannot continue with this trend of losing these people to Caddo, DeSoto, and Webster. And, that’s where I ask the Chamber to continue to work with Bossier Parish Schools,” Thrash said.

Thrash added that even though Bossier High School has lost many highly qualified teachers, his school, staff and students have achieved success.

“Bossier High moved at the highest growth of a school performance score. We moved from the high 50’s through the 60’s. And, when they release our school report card in November, Bossier High will be a B school,” said Thrash.

Speaker Lisa Burns, W.T. Lewis Elementary principal and 2019-20 Louisiana Elementary Principal of the Year, spoke about overseeing a high-achieving socioeconomic school and the challenges that accompanying that. 

“We work with a wide variety of backgrounds and abilities at our school. But we are breaching performance gaps in big ways,” Burns said. “I started by creating a vision for our school. And, our vision is we teach and learn for success today and tomorrow. That vision is focused on success, not just right now, but extending beyond into the future for our students.”