More than 750 elementary students affected in redistricting proposal

More than 750 elementary students affected in redistricting proposal

JEFFERSON PARISH, LA (WVUE) - Jefferson Parish School Board members heard from parents Thursday night before they vote on a redistricting proposal that would shift more than 750 elementary students next school year.

The redistricting plan is a part of a more than 50-year-old lawsuit agreement about desegregation in the parish settled in 2015. Opening up Bunche Elementary was a part of that agreement, but some parents do not agree with how the district lines are being redrawn.

"Why are our kids' rights being sacrificed simply to satisfy a racial segregation lawsuit that was filed 50 years ago?" parent Mark Schaferkotter said.

Schaferkotter even submitted his own redistricting plan to board members, but he said his plan was denied.

The shift would affect schools on the east bank of Jefferson Parish. While some parents fought against the proposal, other parents welcomed the change, primarily those in the Bunche neighborhood.

"If you're changing it for the better of everybody, then that is good change," parent Troy Smith said.

"This was the final portion of our agreement with the Dandridge lawsuit was to open up Bunche, and we are all in agreement," board President Melinda Doucet said. "We're ready for Bunche to come online because it helps with some overcrowding we have, and it gives us an opportunity to branch out and have things such as the STEM school."

Bunche Elementary is set to reopen in the fall of 2017 as a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Initiative school.

The redistricting would affect seven current elementary schools: Green Park, Hazel Park, Phoebe Hearst, Matas, Bridgedale, Audubon and A.C. Alexander Elementary schools.

Of the 777 students to be shifted, more than 400 students will transfer to Bunche Elementary.

Two schools are classified as desegregated with the plan.

But in its own review, the school system says Green Park and Matas will be racially identifiable as white with 75 and 82 percent of white students and Bunche will be predominately black with 75 percent.

"When our planning department does go in and do the research, they try to make each school as diverse as they possibly can," Doucet said. "That's why it affects so many communities trying to make sure we have that diversity."

Doucet said its unsure on how exactly the lines will be drawn but things will change for some students next school year.

Jefferson Parish school board members will vote on how these district lines will be redrawn at their next meeting on June 13th.

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