If children are the future, why is the Natchitoches Parish School Board considering potentially closing Cloutierville Elementary and Jr. High School? Is it more convenient to save a dollar than a child? These were the questions on the minds of audience members at the Committee meeting Tuesday night, June 6. (SEE VIDEO BELOW)
The potential closure is one of many cuts the Board is considering making to combat the projected deficit of $5.2 million it’s facing at the end of its fiscal year June 30. The bottom line is that cuts need to be made. (SEE BUDGET BELOW)
School Board member Emille Metoyer added an item to the agenda for the committee meeting calling for a discussion of the future of the school in Cloutierville. The room was packed with parents and other stake holders in the school’s future, who are all concerned.
There’s been rumors floating around the parish and word got out through social media that the school was set to be closed down. Metoyer feels this would destroy the Cloutierville community.
“I want to see it stay open,” he said. “We need to cut other ways first. Why pick just Cloutierville?”
Superintendent Dale Skinner said they’ve cut everywhere in the schools they possibly can while still maintaining the required level of education.
“The only other way I know to cut is cutting 15-20 percent from the employee sales tax checks,” said Skinner. “Are we going to be more concerned with all our teachers and employees or 125 kids?”
When looking at the money closing Goldonna or Cloutierville would save the School Board, Cloutierville seemed the obvious choice. Closing Goldonna would save an estimated $127,000 while closing Cloutierville is estimated to save $1 million. (SEE BUDGET BELOW)
School Board member Ralph Wilson said they’re fortunate to have taxes passed during the April election, but taxes aren’t the sole answer to retire the School Board’s deficit.
Rose Rawls has four grandchildren that attend Cloutierville. Claiming to be one of the School Board’s biggest advocates when the tax was on the ballot in April, she said closing Cloutierville was never brought up when they were trying to get the tax passed.
“People voted to pass the tax because they thought it would help save the schools, but it seems your decision has already been made.
Wilson claims that no final decision has been made. The Board isn’t even sure if anything will take place for the 2017-18 school year. However, they’ve already compiled a list of projected student enrollment and staffing for all the schools in the parish, taking into consideration one closure. (SEE LIST BELOW)
Several people questioned why Cloutierville was left off this list if no final decisions had been made yet. Others seem to think that if the school in Cloutierville is closed, it’s only a matter of time before Goldonna is closed as well.
Then School Board member Joella Wilson said it was time to stop beating around the bush. “We’ve been talking about it and that’s the truth,” she said.
Kimberly Solitaire attended Cloutierville, as did her parents. Now her children are students there. “What about the kids in Cloutierville,” she questioned the Board members. “It’s not just the town (Natchitoches) that represents Cloutierville but all the surrounding areas like Melrose, Gorum and Chopin.”
LAST NIGHT’S MEETING
Budget with all Schools
Budget without Cloutierville
Projected Staff for ONE Closure