MANDEVILLE- With the summer break from school half-way over, parents in one community are calling attention to an over-crowding issue they feel is demanding a different kind of attention than its been getting.
Mandeville high's population surpassed 1,800 students last year. In anticipation for continued growth, the school district started adding more modular buildings this week.
But parent Amy Christopher, who has loved her children's experience at the school, including its size, doesn't see this modular building addition as a good kind of growth.
"Every year, there's more and more that have been added," she said, "I think that the school board needs to look at putting a brick and mortar structure instead of more portable buildings."
Among Christopher, and other parents' concerns with the portable buildings, are the lack of bathrooms, safety during severe weather and decreasing parking space to place the portables.
But most importantly, they say the temporary solutions to a continuing over-crowding issue are at their limit.
"It is a good school, but at some point, you outgrow your infrastructure and it's time to seriously consider adding more," said Christopher.
District leaders say they hear that call for action.
"We have our challenges with growth, but growth is a good thing, we want people to be part of our school system," said St. Tammany Schools Superintendent Trey Folse, "These modulars that we are looking at now are a temporary solution and we're looking at permanent solutions that will include parental involvement, community support, and that's certainly something that's very close in our future."
Folse says in addition to adding on at Mandeville High, another option could be building a new high school in the Madisonville area, since the growth there is undeniable. But those projects are on the same wish list with hundreds of other needs across the district. Any needs that do get chosen to move forward will have to be paid for by parish taxpayers in an election, not the state.
"It's all on our citizens and we have been so blessed in St. Tammany Parish to have the support of the community," said Folse, "They value a good, strong public school system and that's what we're going to need going forward."
Parents like Christopher say they're ready to support that kind of growth for their children.
"The world is a big place," she said, "I want them to be in a big school, meet new people and have fun."
They just hope to get the chance sooner rather than later.
Over the past 20 years, the school district has asked voters to support new capital projects every five years. The last time was in the Spring of 2013. So if history repeats itself, a chance to address this could be coming up very soon.
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