The modest crowd entering New Birth Missionary Baptist Church was greeted at the door by Pastor, Rufus Sowell, he has been a crossing guard at various Natchitoches Parish Schools for years. With having so many grandkids in the school system, he was happy to open the doors of the church to the community at large for a productive and informative meeting.
The Town Hall meeting was attended by: Provencal Principal, Jennifer Martin, School Board Members; Emile Metoyer, Russ Danzy, Billy Benefield, Reba Phelps, Dorothy McGaskey, Rhonda Guidroz and President Steven Harris. Director of Communications, Chynna Paris was also in attendance.
NPSB Superintendent, Dr. Grant Eloi, opened the meeting much like he opened the previous Town Hall Meetings. But, this time he said, “We really opened a can of worms, didn’t we?”
He was met with much laughter and agreement.
Dr. Eloi and Mr. Lee Waskom began the official presentation that included how schools were funded and where the mandated spending had to happen according to law. The same powerpoint presentation that was presented to Provencal and Marthaville accompanied this meeting as well. The same concerns were addressed up front which included the location of the “potential high school”. They also went into great depth of what all had to happen prior to considering a high school.
After the presentation the floor was opened up for questions from the community members. The crowd was very quiet and listened intently to everything being presented. After a bit of silence, the first question of the evening was asked.
Community member, Monique Sarpy, asked, “If there was to be a high school what are the areas being discussed.”
Dr. Eloi advised that there was initially a thought of Water Well Road and possibly Highway 6. He reiterated that they were listening to the community and taking their concerns to heart.
Community member, Jed Cain, asked about the taxing districts and the district lines for schools. Mr. Lee Waskom approached the Powerpoint on the wall to show Mr. Cain and the crowd how the lines were currently drawn and the reasoning for such. It was a mutual agreement these lines could serve a better purpose being redrawn at some point.
April Matt, Employee at the Health Center for Marthaville and Provencal, stood up to acknowledge the Water Well Road location is very convenient for those who live in the South area of the Parish. She uses the Water Well Road to attend both of the schools when she is working.
This lead to another conversation that included the fact that Water Well Road was located on 640 acres of School Board owned property land, had access to adequate water and electrical needs. It also is not located in a flood zone. It was also mentioned that the Natchitoches Central High School is landlocked. There is no adjoining property that the Board owns so that would limit and expansion in that area.
Everyone who wanted to speak had their chance to address the Board or Dr. Eloi. The Town Hall was adjourned and Board Members, as well as Eloi and Waskom, stayed around to visit with parents and community members.