Put Cloutierville students first

letters to the editor295

The following is a statement by Donna Masson as presented at the Natchitoches Parish School Board Committee Meeting:

Communities need schools. The 1980 federal court order first closed Gorum and Natchez Schools and bused students in grades 6-8 from Cloutierville, Gorum, and Natchez to St. Matthew. This left Springhill, a K-5 School, and Cloutierville High with grades 9-12.

A few years later in 1988, Judge Scott closed Springhill and St. Matthew and starting busing Cloutierville’s high school students to NCHS. Cloutierville became an Elementary-Jr. High serving K-8 for the Cane River, Point Place, Gorum, Marco, Chopin, Part of Natchez, Town South, and Cloutierville communities. It was the largest populated rural Elementary/Jr. High in Natchitoches Parish. It is the ONLY remaining school from Natchitoches, south to the parish line.

Over the years, as attendance lines were not enforced and more students were bused to Cloutierville, many of the local students left. They are attending Provencal, City Schools, and Northwood in Rapides Parish. Some are being home schooled, as many parents were dissatisfied with the public school system.

Next, when Magnet was established it took the students who scored high on achievement tests (who weren’t disciplinary problems) still left in Cloutierville. This explains why the enrollment is down from what it used to be. However, it’s not the lowest enrollment in the parish, and we have good students at our school!!

During this time, the Natchitoches Parish School Board wouldn’t vote to ask the judge to release us from the court order. Certain groups in Natchitoches maintain that we’re not ready to manage our own schools and would rather go to a federal judge to ask permission for every decision that needs to be made for OUR students.

When I served on this board I witnessed members of these communities getting on the stand and making statements to PROMOTE maintaining the court order instead of helping us get out from under it. So the busing that continues today could’ve been stopped, but the representatives on the board from the town communities chose NOT to allow it to stop. It should be noted that MOST of the students bused from Natchitoches want to be at Cloutierville. The handful that don’t, could’ve been accommodated if the board had chosen to ask the judge.

There are ways to decrease spending in the school system that won’t close schools. One way is to eliminate unnecessary positions, like too many Master Teachers in the schools and support personnel in the school board office. Also, with the current computer systems, there’s waste in the amount of paper that’s copied and sent to schools. Next, principal salaries being paid to personnel in the classroom is a waste. Scheduling more than one bus on a road is a waste also. And there are MANY others!

Transportation costs will increase if students from the rural areas in south Natchitoches Parish are bused to Natchitoches. There are MANY roads to cover to pick up all the students zoned to Cloutierville, and then transporting them to schools in town will ADD to transportation costs. I don’t see any savings here. You will then be losing MFP money because some of these parents will simply take their students out of the parish for schooling.

Our school system is supposed to be doing the BEST for our STUDENTS. For over 30 years we failed our students by remaining under a court order. Now with the board looking at closing our school we are failing them again – and by the way, since I know all the schools in Natchitoches are overcrowded, WHERE will they go?? Into overcrowded Classrooms ?! How will that benefit the students?? And what about our very capable teachers and staff?? Where will they go?

Finally, Cloutierville has a great SCHOOL Based Health Center funded by a grant from St. Frances Cabrini Hospital. This money and program will be lost since it’s specific to Cloutierville School. I know the board has received letters about the number of students receiving services at this Health Center. It would be a disgrace to throw that away.

Find the money somewhere else to balance the budget!! Let the family atmosphere at CLOUTIERVILLE continue! The people love their school.

PLEASE put the students of Cloutierville School first! I think they deserve it!!

Donna Masson

6 thoughts on “Put Cloutierville students first

  1. What are the numbers, how many students are bussed from Natchitoches everyday to Cloutierville. What are the demographic trends for the southern part of the Parish. Let the facts determine the future of that school, not emotion..

  2. I am not a parent of a student in a school in Natchitoches Parish, however I am a person who is concerned about children. I have friends who live in parts of the parish whose children have to get up and be at the bus stop on the side of the road before daylight. Then they don’t get home until late, basically in time for dinner. This is so wrong. First of all, it’s dangerous for children to be out waiting for a bus before daylight. This is exactly what will happen in Cloutierville if the school closes. That school needs to stay open, and if it closes, I think people need to rethink who they vote for to represent them on the School Board. I have been thinking of why there is such a shortage in funds for schools. Could it that the school superintendent’s salary is a little high if we can’t afford. Children should be the first and foremost concern in a district, not the people serving on School Board or the Superintendent. Teachers work and earn their meager salary, but the others I’ve mentioned, I’m not really sure of how hard they really work. Just my take on things here in our little piece of paradise.

  3. Thank you, Mrs. Masson. That was well stated and true. I’ve always appreciated your love and support for students and the community.

  4. I went to school in Natchitoches until the end of 7th grade and then because of the court ruling in 1980 I started going to school at St. Matthews and then Cloutierville High and I’m a proud graduate of Cloutierville High School. Going to St. Matthews and Cloutierville was the best thing that could have happen to me. I was a person at these school not just another number. I was able to explore ideas and be involved with the school and community. Closing this school will not only hurt the students and teachers…it will hurt the community and surrounding area. Classroom size is very important to student learning and I don’t believe crowding school that are already old and space is running out will help these students. I know because I attended some of the same schools that they will send these students and they were old when I went to them. The health unit in the school is a very great program for the family in the area that might not be able to take time off to have medical attention for their student. Please make sure you cross all your T’s and dot all your I’s before closing this school cause the parish doesn’t need over crowding and situations that come up from that.

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