Superintendent Dale Skinner decided to take an item off the Natchitoches Parish School Board’s June 8 meeting agenda, which would address possibly closing Cloutierville Elementary and Jr. High School after supporters voiced their opposition at a Committee Meeting June 6.
“We’ll have to make cuts at every school as long as we don’t have to close Cloutierville,” said board member Emille Metoyer. “I’d rather wait and see how much the new 1/2 cent sales tax will bring in once we start collecting it July 1.”
Skinner said he took the item off the agenda because there wasn’t the 6 votes to support the school’s closure. “The vote’s just not there,” he said. At this point the NPSB is about $1.5 million short of coming within budget. The closure of Cloutierville would have saved $1 million.
“We’ve already put a lot of hard work into the budget and we’ve already cut to the bone,” said Skinner.
However, looking at making cuts now will focus on the 85 percent of the budget that is personnel. If employees make an average salary of $50,000, then around 30 employees will need to be cut.
“Now we’ll have to make cuts we never wanted to make because of the vote. It’s sad to me,” said Skinner, who said he wishes the board would vote based on what’s good for the student body as a whole. Cutting personnel will mean teachers will be overtaxed. The recent School District score with the LA Dept. of Education rose from a C to a B, but Skinner feels cutting personnel will badly affect the scoring in the future.
The board will now address what steps should be taken next at its June 8 meeting at 5 pm at the School Board office on Royal Street. They will discuss having the kids in the City (C-1 school district) attend City schools instead of busing them out to Cloutierville. They will also discuss moving grades 7-8 at Cloutierville to the Jr. High in Natchitoches.
“This should help alleviate some of the busing issues do we’re not busing kids when we don’t have to,” said Skinner. “I’ll do what I’ve always done, which is recommend what’s best for the kids.”