Superintendent’s Message: May 2013

Dear JPPSS Community,

As we close out another school year, I want to express my deep gratitude and appreciation to everyone in the Jefferson Parish Public Schools community for all of your support and dedication to our students and our schools. A huge congratulations also goes out to all of our graduates, the class of 2013 — we are so proud of each and every one of you!

The 2012-13 school year was a notable year filled with accomplishments from many of our students and staff. Our schools have gained national recognition, beginning with Gretna No. 2 Academy being recognized as a 2012 National Blue Ribbon School, to Boudreaux Elementary being named a 2013 National Title I Distinguished School, to our high schools being ranked as one of America’s best by both the U.S. News & World Report and Newsweek/The Daily Beast.

This year, 14 high school seniors were honored as National Merit semifinalists or finalists — the most in JPPSS history — and five seniors were named Posse Scholars, winning four-year, full tuition scholarships to esteemed colleges and universities. Our students, with the support of their teachers and principals, have won honors and prizes at state and national competitions in science, math, journalism, history, dance, fine arts, and more. Our teachers, in turn, have also been recognized by associations and other organizations for their work.

We built on the momentum of the previous year’s academic success by continuing to increase proficiency rates of our students in grades 3 to 8 on state testing. Though we are still waiting for test scores for our high schools, initial results for our elementary and middle schools demonstrate growth in all tested areas, with notable increases in elementary grades and for our special education students. As a whole, the district grew two percentage points compared to 2012, beating the state average. In fact, only 9 other districts in the state – out of 71 – had higher gains than we did this year.

None of this success could be possible without the dedicated teachers, principals, and staff that work so hard every day to improve the lives of our children — thank you all for all that you do, and will continue to do, for Jefferson Parish students.

I also want to thank our parents and our community for your support throughout this year.  Our goal is to build upon the improvements we saw this year to ensure that all of our children are at basic or above in student achievement. I will work tirelessly to support our staff and students so that we can achieve this goal, and your partnership will continue to be essential in our efforts to advance student learning.

This summer, we will be hard at work to ensure that we start the 2013-14 school year ready for success. By the time our students and teachers return to school, 100 percent of our schools will be safe and secure, with a single-entry system and working locks on all doors. We will have begun the process of upgrading our technology in preparation for the next generation of assessments being developed by PARCC. We will have launched an initiative to bring teacher voice alive in district and school decision making processes, and teachers and staff will have spent a good deal of their summer in development and training sessions for the Common Core, so that they will be prepared to start providing high quality instruction on day one.

Over the next few months, we’ll also work hard to develop a plan that will ask for support from all of our stakeholders in passing the $23 million tax renewal, which, as you know, did not pass in early May. The district is committed to improving its communications with the public on the importance of these funds in providing critical services to Jefferson Parish students and families, and to ensuring that we continue to be successful in our education mission.

It will be a busy but productive summer for all of us at JPPSS. I look forward to continuing our work together in the 2013-14 school year. Thank you, once again, for all that you do for our children.


Dr. James Meza, Jr.