Hundreds of its grads ready for work attend Job Fair

The two are directly linked — quality of elementary and secondary education and quality of the workforce. And the news could not be much better in Vernon Parish.

School district performance scores released Tuesday by the La. Dept. of Education put Vernon in the top 5 systems in the state, the top 3 if independent districts are not included.

According to the results, Vernon at 107.9 trails only Plaquemines and Ascension among public school systems not independent of parishes. 

While the results were being shared at Tuesday’s School Board meeting, hundreds of men and women were lined up to apply for jobs at a Job Fair hosted by the City of Leesville at the Golf Course & Conference Center.

The fair was supposed to open at 9 a.m. but the numbers of people already in line convinced officials to open at 8:30. Some said the 4 p.m. closing time might also be extended.

Mayor Rick Allen was positively gushing at the turnout. “This is unbelievable, and the surest evidence that we have people ready and willing to work,” he said as literally hundreds of prospective employees milled about at dozens of tables.

Ann Causey, Chamber of Commerce executive director, said the news about Vernon schools’ scoring in the performance testing supports the parish’s sales pitch to new or expanding industry. 

“This crowd shows any and all that we have people seeking work opportunities, and the school system performance shows they are prepared for the work place,” Causey said. Additionally, she noted the high standing of the district overall is a selling point in the bid to attract new business and industry.

School Supt. James Williams expressed his pride in all of those involved in the performance effort, from students to teachers to administrators and parents supportive of the district’s effort.

Because of various changes, Willliams said this was probably the system’s toughest year to hold its place or advance among the state’s district, and next year, he said, may be more so.

“You know, the higher you get, the tougher it is to climb,” he said. “But you’ll have to go a long way to find a district that outperforms this one,” he added. That would be about 200 miles, to the corridor south of Baton Rouge, where Ascension and Plaquemines lie on opposite sides of the Mississippi River.

Rosepine ranked at the top of Vernon’s high schools, with a 121.6 score. Anacoco was close behind at 120. Other high schools and their scores: Evans, 93.9; Hicks, 115.5; Hornbeck, 103; Leesville, 108.1; Pickering, 93.8; Pitkin, 110.7; and Simpson, 98.8. 

Evans, Simpson and Pickering received letter grades of “B”; the others are all ranked “A”.

Overall, 10 parishes schools were graded A and eight schools were graded B.