NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Concern over a reorganization proposal by the Jefferson Parish Public Schools superintendent brought a packed house Wednesday (March 13).
Superintendent Cade Brumley started the meeting with a presentation to the board. He spoke on how closing three schools and expanding nine others in the system would ultimately be beneficial for students, parents and teachers.
Under the proposal, Live Oak Manor will be demolished, Catherine Strehle Elementary will become an alternative school and Miller-Wall Elementary will become a property for lease.
Nine other schools will expand to house pre-k through eighth-grade students, with the promise that no teachers’ jobs would be in danger, the system would save money in the long run and would retain students for longer.
Following that, parents, teachers and administrators all spoke out about their different worries and wishes. Some parents spoke of safety concerns and overcrowding, while some teachers worried the plan was too ambitious.
“You want to take Live Oak, tear it down, another school out of Waggaman,” said one concerned parent.
“In this situation, a pre-k school does not address all the stress and student turnover at Miller-Wall,” said a concerned teacher.
But those in favor of the superintendent’s plan outnumbered those opposed it. Teachers and parents said they wanted consistency for their children and to make that change sooner than later.
“Cincinnati, Charlotte - they’re all moving to the K-8 model. Why do we want in Louisiana to be the last school system to understand?” said parent Emily Fulgham-Clay.
One board member, Billy North, spoke out before voting.
“I think this is a good plan. I understand the concerns. I think it should have been done 10 years ago, but we’re doing it now," he said.
The rest of the board, joining North in his vote, unanimously passing the superintendent’s plan.
“Anytime you have a boundary shift or school closing, it’s sensitive. I get that. I understand that,” said Brumley.
But the interim president for the Jefferson Federation of Teachers, Kesler Camese-Jones, said many teachers are still fearful, wondering what will happen next with such uncertainty.
“Teachers are planners. They just like to know what they’re teaching, who they’re teaching, what they’re teaching, so they just want more details,” said Camese-Jones.
Changes from the plan will take effect in August.
Brumley said HR will work with teachers who will be displaced on what school they want to move to.
He said they’ll also be hosting parent meetings in the future to explain the changes and what that means for their families.