Newly named Superintendent VanMetre: ‘It’s all about people, all the time’

Published 4:11 pm Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Self-proclaimed “bonafide education nerd” Jason VanMetre is the Calcasieu Parish School Board’s new superintendent.

The decision was made at a special meeting on Tuesday with a vote of 8-7 in a fourth round of voting. Out of a pool of five finalists, VanMetre and CPSB Director of Career and Technical Education Tony McCardle were the final two candidates voted on.

VanMetre will succeed Shannon LaFargue, who was selected as superintendent in 2022 and announced his retirement in early May.

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In a release from CPSB on Wednesday, VanMetre expressed his gratitude.

“I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to serve as the new superintendent of the Calcasieu Parish School Board,” he said. “This district is home to phenomenal students, faculty, staff and stakeholders, and I am honored to begin leading such a dedicated team.”

During his interview, VanMetre said he lives by a saying he encountered in graduate school: “It’s all about people, all the time.”

“What we have to remember is, every decision that we make, every interaction that we have, it’s people on the other end, especially in our business,” he said. “It’s that philosophy that I try to keep with me.”

He intends to lead with positivity and calmness. In the coming years, he, his colleagues and the board will have to lead the district through a slew of legislative changes – including the new state accountability and evaluation systems – and funding changes.

“We’ve got a lot of change coming, and whoever sits in that chair next is gonna have to navigate a lot of that coming change,” he said.

VanMetre will focus on increasing district-wide proficiency, emphasizing foundational classroom basics, nurturing future administrative leaders and ensuring CSPB offers programs, services and curricula that are “valuable to parents, valuable to students.”

He will also institute a boots-to-the-ground approach concerning connecting with faculty, staff and stakeholders.

“I’ve gotta listen as a superintendent. I can’t do that sitting in a chair,” he explained. “I‘m probably going to end up spending a good time in schools. That’s what I like to do anyway, that’s where I feel at home.”

He also plans to bolster stakeholder communication via community meetings and parent, student and teacher focus groups. Additionally, he hopes to make employee and stakeholder surveys a regular occurrence.

VanMetre has over 20 years of experience with CPSB.

He was a teacher at Barbe High from 1998 to 2000 and 2002 to 2012, assistant principal at Sulphur High from 2012 to 2015, principal at Westlake High from 2015 to 2019 and director of management information systems from 2019 to 2022.

He has been CPSB’s chief academic officer since 2022.

He holds a Bachelor of Science in biology education and a Master of Education in educational administration from McNeese State University. He earned a Doctor of Education in educational leadership from Lamar University.

In addition to his work history and education, he participated in several professional development programs to prepare for the superintendency, including the Louisiana School Boards Association Level Up League and the Louisiana Superintendent’s Academy.

Following the finalization of his contract on Thursday, July 11, VanMetre will begin his transition from CAO to superintendent.