STEAM Express

Livingston Parish Public Schools unveiled its highly-anticipated community mobile classroom unit during its monthly principals meeting at the Suma Professional Development Center on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018.

It’s difficult to find something to put in this space outside of the school system’s success.

But, they just keep on raising the bar.

At their regular meeting last Thursday, two announcements were discussed – New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan was coming to Livingston Parish at the end of October, and the STEAM bus was a hit state wide, and starting to gain national – as well as international – attention.

If you’re unfamiliar with the bus – it’s a mobile suite providing access to computer labs and new technology for teachers and students who might otherwise not have the ability to use those things regularly.

The school system was sought out by the Saints, and Superintendent Joe Murphy added that no money from the school system has been spent on the STEAM bus, and no payroll money had been spent on it either – it was all done by donation and volunteer efforts.

Livingston Parish Public Schools continue to show the benefit of public and private partnerships, and these two situations are no different. Recently, a body shop was introduced to the Walker High campus, as well – not to mention the vast array of career and technical offerings available to students through high school campuses and the Literacy and Technology Center.

But why? Why are businesses and individuals giving up their time and money to assist with these projects?

Because it’s benefitting both sides, and every piece of the education puzzle in Livingston Parish adds up to a community.

Businesses are buying into the early education portion because, why not? There’s a potential to train future workforce, finish some projects along the way, and get recognized by the very community that was just mentioned surrounding all the schools, and the system as a whole.

It’s the same reason the Saints are going to send one of their more popular players to Livingston Parish. It’s the same reason folks got behind the STEAM bus, which is gaining acclaim daily.

There’s trust there – beyond leadership, it’s the people who make the system and bring that enthusiasm and work ethic into the room.

Can public-private partnerships be expanded into the world of infrastructure? It’s already happening, at least in the design phase, as students flock to places like Denham Springs in the hopes of designing the next downtown that takes into account green space, drainage, and retention.

The problem? Infrastructure projects cost money, and in most cases a lot of it. So in order to make public and private partnerships more desirable, a balance has to be struck that’s beneficial between the project creator and the project executor.

Perhaps tax benefits for donating directly to infrastructure? Seems like a good way to get out of the grant cycle, where tax dollars go to D.C. and are then sent back with specific purpose. But, in the end, trust in government and the ability to execute the contract is still low.

It will be interesting to see what the next governor, whoever that happens to be, does on that score with DOTD.

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