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OPSB Votes to Invest $9M to Support Teacher Workforce & Critical Student Needs

NEW ORLEANS – (Jan. 17, 2020) – On Thursday, January 16, the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) voted to approve NOLA Public Schools (NOLA-PS) Superintendent Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr.’s proposal for the Systemwide Needs Program (SWNP). The program will invest roughly $9 million over the next three years to help better address and fund teacher training and mentoring while also providing increased mental health and behavioral support for students who have been impacted by trauma.

“Quality, talented teachers have the inherent ability to open our students’ eyes and minds to new opportunities and prepare them to achieve their educational dreams,” said NOLA-PS Superintendent Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr. “These funds will allow us to invest in two critical areas that support our schools: our teacher workforce as well as behavioral and mental health supports for our students. We believe that this program will help us attract, continually develop, and retain teachers from diverse backgrounds, especially those with local roots, and better equip our schools to support students impacted by trauma. In tandem, these efforts will help our children flourish.”

In the spring of 2019 through an act of the Louisiana State Legislature, the SWNP was established to support initiatives that will result in districtwide improvements. In response, the Superintendent developed the plan that will support the recruitment of teachers from diverse backgrounds.

Last night, OPSB Board Members approved the plan, which was created with input from multiple parties including teacher, student and parent advisory councils, and informed by ongoing engagement and communication with community partners. NOLA-PS has identified teacher talent and specialized student programming and support as the two focus areas for investment. Execution of the program will include:

• Teacher Talent:
o To grow, diversify, and sustain the teacher pipeline, the plan will: 
 incentivize undergraduates from local university programs to conduct teacher residencies in NOLA Public Schools,
 support local programs designed to recruit teachers to teach in NOLA-PS,
 incentivize current teachers to attain certification in high-needs areas and National Board Certification,
 secure the recruitment and training for new teachers through existing pipeline programs.

oTo help support this focus, SWMP will provide stipends for student teachers, tuition incentives for current teachers seeking certification, and innovative pipeline grants focused on training and recruiting local college students.
o In an effort to sustain the current teacher pipeline, the program will support the training and recruitment of 220 teachers, with an increased focus on cultural competence.
o To ensure new teacher success and promote teacher retention, citywide training and support will be offered to train and mentor teachers.

 •Specialized Student Programming and Supports:
o To increase students’ access to mental and behavioral support, resources will be devoted to sustaining and growing restorative programming for middle school students.
o SWNP would fund professional development opportunities for school staff and social workers dedicated to addressing the topic of mental and behavioral support for students in schools.
o Training will also be offered to school-based staff on therapeutic crisis management to better equip them to support students across a continuum of needs, inclusive of trauma and those in crisis.

Funds will be allocated through a competitive process, as state and local policy dictates, and recipients awarded funds must demonstrate that at least twenty-five percent of the funds it will expend to achieve its proposal are from sources other than SWNP.

ABOUT NOLA PUBLIC SCHOOLS: NOLA Public Schools is the public school district for Orleans Parish, which includes the district’s elected school board, known as the Orleans Parish School Board and the district’s administration led by NOLA Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Henderson Lewis Jr. NOLA Public Schools currently oversees 78 public schools. For more information, visit For updates, follow NOLA Public Schools on Facebook @NOLAPublicSchools, Instagram @nolaps and Twitter @NOLAPSchools.

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