By Samantha Maiette
Cloutierville Elementary and Jr. High School’s future rests in the hands of the Natchitoches Parish School Board as it decides whether or not to close the school.
In a letter released to school employees, Superintendent Dale Skinner mentioned the board looked at other options such as a four-day week, moving other students to the school and laying off personnel (SEE LETTER PROVIDED BY A MEMBER OF THE GROUP ON MONDAY – BELOW).
Before making their decision, the school board made a trip to Cloutierville to explore school grounds and hear from concerned community members. The biggest issues were about bussing the children to Natchitoches and the impact on the community.
“I don’t think [the board] has everything figured out yet,” said District 11 Representative Emile Metoyer. “There’s [going to be] so much bussing going on that we’re not going to save money.”
Metoyer proceeded to explain how he drove from Natchitoches Central to the southern parish line, which is roughly 35 miles and is roughly a 40 minute commute. He calculated the time a child would spend on the bus, one way, to be around an hour and a half after a bus driver picks up and drops off those on the route.
“If we leave this [school] open, it will affect 6,000 students in the parish,” Skinner said. He later explained that the students will receive a “better education” if they have access to everything they need, especially when they get to the high school level.
The community members who showed up to the school Monday morning expressed their concerns with the board members who were present.
“It’s unreasonable to have a child on a bus for an hour to an hour and a half,” said Julie Delphin, a resident of Cane River. “With the geography [of the parish] it is not feasible. Natchitoches is not centrally located.”
Cloutierville teaches pre-K through 8th grade and is currently listed as a C ranked school. 235 students finished the school year and it’s celebrating its 100 year anniversary.
The board is expected to vote on the future of Cloutierville at their special meeting Thursday, June 14 at 5 pm.