JP School Board votes to close schools despite public outcry

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wwltv.com

Posted on May 16, 2012 at 5:44 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 16 at 10:22 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

KENNER, La. - The Jefferson Parish School Board voted on Wednesday to close seven public schools next year. Despite a last-minute plea from the public, the school board stuck to its guns in an effort to get out of the red.

"How do you tell a 5-year-old you'll never see your teacher, none of your friends ever again?!," said one concerned parent choking back tears minutes after the 8-1 vote.

Just before the JP School Board took its vote, members of the community were given time to make final comments on the school consolidation plan.

"We ask that you become reasonable people. Listen to the people that are effected by your decisions. We may have solutions that will help you. Just talk to us," said Harvey resident Margie Loud Zeno.

"It's hard for me and others to understand how in a few months, you've made such a decision involving employees future," said Laura Harper with Jefferson Federation of Teachers.

Only two school board members took the time to explain their positions.

"I still have a responsibility as a school board member to be confronted with a balanced budget and we're looking at $27 million dollars in cuts," said JP School Board member Etta Licciardi.

"I feel this plan is bad. I hope it gets challenged and it's discriminatory. You have closed schools where you have 4,417 more black students today then you did 30 years ago," said JP School Board member Cedric Floyd.

With summer break just around the corner, hundreds of Jefferson Parish teachers, students and parents are scrambling to figure out what next.

"It's a sad day, sad day because what was left of those small community schools just got voted out," said teacher Brenda Bonura.

School officials said approximately 2,500 students will be impacted by these closures, which are projected to save more than $5 million.

The Jefferson Parish Federation of Teachers said it is still too soon to tell what will happen to teachers and staff at Maggiore Elementary, Rillieux Elementary, Bunche Accelerated Academy, Kate Middelton Elementary, Homedale Elementary, Waggaman Alternative School and St. Ville Accelerated Academy.

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