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Changes coming to Opelousas elementary schools next year

Posted: 10:58 PM, Feb 20, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-20 23:58:09-05

Elementary school students in Opelousas could possibly see a change in where they attend school next year.

The school board is considering several different plans that would reconfigure and potentially rezone those students.

As for now, the board plans to close two elementary schools for the 2019-2020 school year. In the coming weeks, they hope to vote on a solid plan for possibly closing the two schools and deciding where students will attend next year.

“No matter what happens in the city or the parish, if this board doesn’t do its job to change education, we can’t succeed,” said local business owner Patrick Fontenot.

One by one, members of the audience stood to address the superintendent and the board about reconfiguring elementary schools in Opelousas.

“We have been talking about it a little over a year now in St. Landry Parish in order to be able to provide our children the opportunity to be more successful in and outside of the classroom,” said Superintendent Patrick Jenkins.

Jenkins says reconfiguration will help the district financially and will also help remove students from some facilities that are over 60-years-old.

“We want to look at the academic component, the finance component, as well as the conditions of our facilities, so all of those components play a big role in our decision-making process,” said Jenkins.

Principals, teachers and community members came up with several different ways to consolidate students into the four remaining schools that would be open.

“We’re spinning in circles and not getting any results. Our schools are struggling because we have limited resources because we have so many schools to service just in the Opelousas area. So, by closing and consolidating, we can get the human resources that we need to better improve our students’ educational experience,” said North Elementary School Principal Michele Thibodeaux.

“I think the change is long overdue. I think we have seen a downward trend and some upward tic. I think the people are working really hard, and the superintendent and the board recognize that. And, with some change, we will be able to propel even higher,” said St. Landry Parish Association of Educators President Jamal Taylor.

The school board will continue to have meetings open to the public until they can come up with the best plan for the children.

After they have a solid plan for Opelousas, they will begin working on other zones in the parish.