The Natchitoches Parish School Board held a Special Called Meeting Oct. 18 to approve a recommendation made by Superintendent Dale Skinner. Skinner recommended that each class at Natchitoches Magnet be increased by six students per class to make the ratio of 26:1, which in line with what all the other schools have. The students will be admitted according to standard admission criteria: basic or above on state testing and a 2.5 GPA.
Skinner recommended that these changes be put into effect as soon as the appropriate information can be gathered and finalized. The selection process for which students will make the transition will start next week. Children already on the waiting list for Magnet will be chosen first. Information will be gathered from the schools and the children with the best test scores will be chosen.
By increasing the classroom sizes at Magnet by six students it will save four teachers for the school district’s staffing formula when it comes time to start working on their budget. This is hypothetical, not reality.
“Our job is to see that every child reaches their potential,” said Rhonda Guidroz. “It’s not ideal. It’s terribly difficult, but we are charged with helping every child reach their potential whether they’re a top or low performing student.”
There was contention among the board members concerning Magnet. “Since opening Magnet, other schools have been struggling to get their test scores up,” said Metoyer. “The top schools in the Parish take the brightest students and they get all the glory. I can’t vote to keep taking the best students from all the schools.”
Hilton said what truly bothers him is that the school system just went through a reduction and yet people still vote against taxes to improve the district and board members still vote against increasing millages.
Ken Bates, who has a granddaughter at Magnet, said the student, teacher ration is very important. He’s taught at the high school level. He said adding children into the classes at Magnet needs to be studied before it’s done.
However, Skinner said that if Magnet can’t teach 26 children per class, how can anyone expect other schools to do so. Bates countered that this wasn’t why Magnet was set up, to which Skinner replied that he didn’t care why Magnet was set up. He cares about the well being and education of the entire student body.
“People have no idea what we face/fight with on an everyday basis,” he said. “We have to do a better job at the other schools and I believe we have better people in positions this year.”
Brenda Milner cautioned the School Board members about voting in a rush just to get the ratio up to 26:1 at Magnet. She questioned why this couldn’t wait until the beginning of the next school year so students could start off with the same curriculum at the same time.
Katrina Wilson-Willis, Harry Graham and Emile Metoyer voted against this agenda item. Mike Hilton and Steven Harris abstained from the vote. It passed with 6 votes from the board.