Board members listen to public comment during a Jefferson Parish School Board meeting at the school district's Administration Building in Harvey, La., Wednesday, April 5, 2023. (Photo by Sophia Germer,, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

Six months into their tenure, the Jefferson Parish School Board will meet in Covington on Thursday and Friday for a retreat focused on team-building and professional development.

The two-day gathering, which is open to the public, will take place at the Southern Hotel, 428 East Boston Street.

Board members and some district staff will spend Thursday night at the hotel. Alongside meals and other expenses, the retreat will cost the school district $9,733, according to a district spokesperson.

After taking office in January, the nine-member board "got thrown into some heavy items right away," said Board President Ralph "Rem" Brandt, Jr. 

That included a controversial decision in April to close down six schools and relocate two others ahead of the upcoming school-year.

"It wasn't like you had any icebreaker," said Brandt, who is new to the board. 

The agenda for the retreat, which is available online, includes sessions with various school district departments, a "legal refresher" and "student panel." 

Thursday's programming includes an hour-and-a-half session titled "Strong School Boards." Brandt said the retreat will include outside speakers with expertise on board operations. 

"We're on a learning curve," Brandt said. "So anything that can help us operate more efficiently as a board is welcome." 

Board members at the retreat will receive credit for nine hours of professional training, which will apply toward the minimum of 16 hours they're required to get in their first year on the board, a district spokesperson said. Returning board members need only six hours. 

The retreat also serves as an opportunity for board members to get to know each other on a personal level, Brandt said. 

"For many of us, the only times we see other is at board meetings, so there's not a whole lot of chance for interaction," he said. 

The retreat will take place from 8:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. on Thursday and 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Friday.

The Jefferson Parish School Board held a similar retreat at the Southern Hotel in 2019 and 2021. 

Email Blake Paterson at and follow him on Twitter, @blakepater.