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|Nelson says academic growth a goal|
Dr. Paul Nelson, named by the Concordia Parish School Board Thursday night as acting superintendent, says one of his goals will be to continue academic growth in parish schools.
Nelson, who is director of academic affairs for the school system, commended outgoing Supt. Loretta Blankenstein for her work. Blankenstein announced her retirement last week.
"It's an awesome responsibility," Nelson said of the superintendent's post. "We've got a lot of people that count on us."
He said the system has 600 employees and 3,800 students.
"Our summer was going to be busy already with plans to open the magnet school at Ridgecrest," Nelson said.
Nelson said he is interested in serving as superintendent full time and "would be honored to take that job if it's offered."
He said the "success of the school district is very important to me, not only as an educator but also as a parent. I have two of my own children who are students and I'm a graduate of Vidalia High School.
"It's very important that all schools in the parish do well and show growth. There's a lot of work to do and always room for improvement in our schools."
Nelson said three out of four fifth graders are now passing state LEAP tests.
"We've shown two percent growth, from 73 percent to 75 percent, in recent testing," he said. "Of course, we'd like to be better."
Eighth graders dropped a point on the test, he said, from 70 percent to 69 percent. He said the drop was recorded at Monterey, Vidalia, Ferriday and Ridgecrest.
"When we see all four drop it's usually replicated throughout the state, which is the case," he said.
From 2007 to 2012, Nelson said the district has gone from 56 percent "being basic or better" to 64 percent achieving that level. "That ranks us in the upper growth of all school districts in Louisiana.
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