St. Bernard School Board Members joined hundreds of other educational leaders from across the state recently as part of the 80th annual Louisiana School Boards Association Conference in Baton Rouge.
The annual three-day event creates opportunities for professional development, continuing education, and collaboration for school board members and superintendents from all over Louisiana. This year’s conference also included a swearing-in ceremony, as two local leaders were elected to statewide positions.
Dr. Hugh Craft was chosen to serve as the President of the Association, and Katherine Lemoine was elected to represent District 1, a 12 parish region. This is the second time these two St. Bernard Parish School Board members were elected to statewide leadership positions.
Craft said funding and school safety were the two focal points at this year’s convention. He emphasized that increased funding for K-12 education is necessary for continued growth of students and their wellbeing.
“Funding for public education at the state level has been stagnant for several years, while the cost to educate and care for students continues to rise,” Craft said.
“Schools need adequate funds to be able to optimally operate,” he said. “It is critical that we fund public education which is the foundation for our strong nation.”
Lemoine said the role of Board Members is to constantly advocate for public education.
“Through our leadership and service, we continue our work in helping children succeed, preparing them for both college and careers,” Lemoine said.
She said that she was honored to be elected to this position and pleased that St. Bernard is so well represented at the state level.
“Having Superintendent Voitier on the BESE Board and Dr. Craft and I serving on the state LSBA Board really give St. Bernard and our public schools a voice.”
Scott Richard, LSBA Executive Director, said Craft and Lemoine also strengthen the overall mission of the Louisiana School Boards Association – Leadership, Service, and Support for School Boards.
“Dr. Craft being elected to serve an additional year as president of the LSBA is a testament to the confidence he has earned among his peers as a champion for improving public education outcomes for students in our state,” Richard said.
He added, “Ms. Lemoine’s background and professional experiences will contribute to the diverse team of school board members that govern its federation of school boards.”
Governor John Bel Edwards was also on hand to address the members of the LSBA. He acknowledged the challenges facing school boards across the state and thanked everyone for their efforts.
“Our children are better off because of your service, and our state is better off because of your service,” he said. “I am very mindful that every constituent of yours is a constituent of mine and we can best serve our common constituents if we partner together, work together, and deliver the best possible education to our kids.”
Another highlight of the convention was a $9500 grant awarded to the St. Bernard School Board by the LSBA. School Board President Cliff Englande said the money would be used to purchase instructional materials over the next school year.
“This year’s conference was very informative and helpful,” Englande said. “And coming home with grant money to purchase materials for our students made it even more special.”
Craft was quick to credit Richard and his team for hosting a first-class event.
“As a state, we are truly blessed to have Scott Richard working for us and advocating for the children of Louisiana. The amount of work that was put in to make this conference such a success is just a small sample of his tireless efforts each day.”