The Louisiana Department of Education recently announced the launch of The Protect Louisiana Schools: Hurricane Preparedness Commission, the first Louisiana state commission focused on strengthening the core public infrastructure of public schools and creating best practices for school systems and leaders during hurricanes.
“In the last two years, Louisiana has been hit catastrophically by six hurricanes – two of which were some of the strongest in our state’s history,” said Dr. Cade Bramley, the state’s head of education. “Many coastal public schools have been devastated by repeated gusts of strong winds, torrential rains and floods that have resulted in billions of dollars in losses – torn roofs, flooded corridors, collapsed walls. But despite all this, Louisiana’s students, teachers, administrators, and parents have demonstrated unwavering resilience in the face of extraordinary adversity. They did their job – now it’s time for us to do ours. “
Bramley said the PLSHPC will bring together experts from the private sector, academia and government to formulate comprehensive recommendations that will modernize Louisiana’s educational infrastructure and equip school systems with the necessary tools to protect their facilities before and after the hurricane.
The PLSHPC panel consists of 17 people, including Lakewood Elementary School principal Kelly Ertling.
“I am proud and humiliated to have the opportunity to work on this commission,” Ortling said. “I hope that we will be able to give effective recommendations and recommendations both for preventive and for responding to future storms. I present a unique perspective not only to be a director, but also a resident of St. Charles Parish, where we have experienced the most catastrophic event in our recent history. ”
Along with all the other schools in the SCPPS school system, Lakewood Elementary School was hit by the storm.
“Most of our staff have been affected by Hurricane Ida, and I, as director, have a responsibility to ensure that the needs of our staff are met so that we can meet the needs of the students,” Ortling said. “As the parents of two students at St. Charles Parish Public School, I have a personal connection to the impact of the hurricane on our families: the need to evacuate, return significant damage to our home, the inability to return to school and live with friends while our home is being renovated. In addition, the joint efforts of the leaders of our school system have given me a unique opportunity to understand the needs of other schools. ”