Basketball league agrees to invest in old Pine facility

Published 11:24 am Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Action of the Washington Parish School Board Thursday has cleared the way for the Pine Basketball Association to move back into its regular playing space.

A cooperative agreement between the board and the Pine Basketball Association, approved at the June 12 meeting, grants the association a 10-year lease for the old Pine High School gymnasium.

The agreement, which begins July 1, 2014, and ends June 30, 2024, allows the association to have full use of the building. The association, in turn, must maintain and secure the building and pay utilities.

The association used the gym for games and practices until flooding in 2012 damaged the flooring.

With the agreement in place, the association intends to make significant investments in the facility and install a hardwood playing surface on the gym floor.

Pine Basketball Association President Tab Seals said in a later interview that games have been played in the old Thomas Elementary gym and in the new Pine High basketball gym this season.

He hopes to see the repairs completed at the old Pine High gym by the start of the upcoming basketball season.

Teams are formed in early November, and games begin the first week of December, he said.

Seals said a number of fundraisers for the project have taken place during the past several months, and many parents of players in the association have offered to share their talents in helping to complete the repairs.

In other business, a report on the district’s spring testing results was presented by Coordinator Jackie Jenkins.

The LEAP test, one exam discussed, is required for pupil progression in fourth and eighth grades.

Students in those grades must earn a basic/approaching basic combination in English language arts and math to move on to the next grade.

Those not attaining the required score attend summer remediation. After retesting, fourth-graders with an AB/AB combination can go into the fourth-grade transitional program.

After completing summer remediation, eighth-graders who score at least AB/U on the LEAP can go into the transitional ninth grade on a high school campus, where they will complete remediation.

The percentage of Washington Parish School System students scoring basic or above on the LEAP was higher than the state average in fourth-grade ELA and math and eighth-grade math. WPSS fourth-graders were below the state average in science and social studies, while district eighth-graders were below the state average in ELA, science and social studies.

Compared to 2013 test results, the percentage of WPSS students scoring basic or above was higher in fourth-grade math and eighth-grade science and social studies.

Eighth-grade science remained the same, while the percentage of students scoring basic or above was lower in fourth-grade ELA, science and social studies and eighth-grade ELA and social studies.

In another item, the board accepted bids received on school supplies for the 2014-15 school year. Director of Finance Beth Keaton said the company with the largest representation on the supplies list was Unisource, which offered the low bid of $31,654.50 for 8 1/2-by-11-inch paper.

Among the items on the personnel report presented by Assistant Superintendent Richard Kennedy was a change of employment status for Kewanda August-Bickham. Previously the faculty coordinator at Wesley Ray Elementary, she has been named the school’s new principal.

Board members offered congratulations to August-Bickham and expressed well wishes to outgoing principal Ginger Champagne, who is taking a position in the central office.

“It’s been great working with you, and I know you’re leaving the school in good hands,” District 9 member Lesley McKinley told Champagne.

“We thank everybody for their vote of confidence as we continue to move that school forward.”

Other personnel adjustments included Angela Kennedy’s move from regular teacher to faculty coordinator at Wesley Ray.

Additionally, two-year contracts were renewed for Franklinton Elementary Principal Janene Hollen and Assistant Principal Denise Gilmore, Thomas Elementary Assistant Principal Dawn Seal and Varnado High Assistant Principal of Instruction Polly Thigpen.