The Jefferson Parish School Board unanimously approved a plan that will close some schools, consolidate others and open up nine, new PK-8 grade schools across the parish.
The vote was 8-0.
“I voiced my opinion in there, but they already had their mind made up,” Parent Nathaniel Webber said.
"Our goal going in was to provide better outcomes for kids,” Jefferson Parish School Superintendent Cade Brumley, who spearheaded the plan, said.
"We lose about 600 kids every year after 5th grade. And we just have to do a better job making sure our parents feel comfortable sending their kids to school with us beyond the fifth grade,” Superintendent Brumley said.
With this new plan, Miller Wall Elementary in Marrero and Live Oak in Elementary Waggaman will shut down. According to Superintendent Brumley’s presentation, Miller Wall will be leased to Smother’s Academy. Smother’s Academy’s current lease with JPPSS at Deckbar expires this summer.
Catherine Strehle Elementary in Avondale will be converted into an alternative school.
The students in those schools will go to new ones in the district.
In an online video, Brumley talked about transforming JP Schools into an A-Rated District in 5 years.
He says studies show sixth, seventh and eighth graders in current PK-8 Grade schools are scoring 25 academic points higher than those in traditional middle schools.
"They have the numbers. They have the research. But you can't base it just upon that,” Webber said.
One by one people came to the podium, several supported the new plan, while others hated the move.
"I'm not comfortable with my daughter going to Roosevelt," one woman said. "I will not send her to Roosevelt. Not for the first year! And I don't want to send her to private school! But if I have to I will!!"
Kesler Camese Jones, with the Jefferson Federation of Teachers says she’s been flooded with calls from worried staff members.
"Our employees are really at their saturation point. They are overwhelmed. We're constantly trying to encourage folks to hang in there until May and stick with Jefferson Parish,” Camese-Jones said. “I appreciate bold plans and I know the superintendent does have the strategic five-year plan. But we’re doing a lot too much too soon! And that’s the feedback I’m getting from my membership.”
“They should not be worried about their jobs. We’ve already assured all the teachers that are doing their job and are doing it correctly that they’ll have a job during this transition. We’re already working individual with teachers to help them go to the school where they might want to go,” Brumley said.
The school district stressed that the plan does not get rid of all traditional middle schools.
There are currently 11 traditional middle schools and 6 Pre-K thru 8. With these new changes, they’ll have 8 traditional middle schools and 15 PK-8 schools.