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Jefferson Parish could move thousands of students as they close, consolidate schools

A consultant hired by JP Public Schools recommended that seven schools close.

JEFFERSON PARISH, La. — Big changes could take effect for Jefferson Parish Public Schools as early as the 2023-2024 school year.

A consultant hired by J.P. Public Schools recommended that seven schools close.

  • Grace King High School students will move to Bonnabel High School and Riverdale High School
  • Gretna Middle School students will move to Marrero Middle School and Livaudais Middle School
  • G.T. Wood Elementary students will move to Bissonet Plaza Elementary School and Tom Benson School
  • Helen Cox High School students will be absorbed into John Ehret High School, LW Higgins High School and West Jefferson High School
  • Joshua Butler Elementary students will move to Judge Lionel, Collins Elementary, Isaac Joseph Elementary and Truman School
  • Mildred Harris Elementary students will move into Cherbonnier Elementary and Emmett Gilbert Elementary
  • Washington Elementary students will move into Bunche Elementary

Meanwhile, two schools were recommended to relocate.

  • Haynes Academy will relocate to Grace King High School campus
  • Thomas Jefferson Academy will relocate to the Gretna Middle School campus

JP Public Schools said the vacant buildings would be bulldozed and the property sold.

Haynes Academy is located in Old Metairie and was the site of Metairie's first public school in 1909.

Marina Toledo is the mother of a Haynes Academy freshman, and she's a Grace King alumna. Toledo assumes the district will make a profit given the location of Haynes.

"They're going to get millions of dollars for the land alone," Toledo said.

Toledo, as well as other parents who spoke to Eyewitness News, are concerned about the quality of education deteriorating.

"Haynes has worked very hard since it became a magnet school to maintain its reputation," Toledo said.

Her daughter will remain a Haynes Academy student, but she would move to Grace King's campus. Grace King is located in Fat City.

The recommendations come after Jefferson Parish said enrollment across the district plummeted. Before Monday's school board meeting, Board Member, Clay Moise, told Eyewitness News that JP Schools can service between 62,000-66,000 students.

Moise said currently only about 42,000 are enrolled, and the district is down roughly 140 teachers.

"If we close the right number of schools, that could go away almost overnight. Because those teachers would be redeployed into schools that have a more efficient use of the space," Moise said.

Toledo said she's skeptical of the numbers JP is putting out.

"These other schools were not under capacity. If anything, they're overcapacity," Toledo said.

Moise said the teacher to student ratio would remain the same.

"I know that the goal is to bring all of these schools to the same level of advanced studies, but you don't take the highest achieving ones and throw them into an area where you know the facilities aren't the best," Toledo said.

Other recommendations include building two new school campuses at Bunche and St. Ville Elementary schools. St. Ville students will be housed temporarily at Woodmere Elementary while new school construction is ongoing.

One new Pre-K to 8 school will be created at C.T. Janet Elementary, which is currently Pre-K to 5.

The school board will vote to adopt all, some or none of the recommendations on April 5.

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