Posted: Jul 21, 2011 6:19 PM by Michael Shingleton
Updated: Jul 21, 2011 6:19 PM
LIVINGSTON - It's a problem Livingston Parish deals with every summer: how and where to educate the skyrocketing number of students.
Since Hurricane Katrina the Livingston Parish school system has averaged 300 to 500 additional students each year. With that growth, there's always a need for more classrooms.
"When your growing like Livingston Parish is growing, we tend to need space very quickly," said Livingston Parish Superintendent Bill Spear.
In the weeks after Hurricane Katrina more than 1,700 additional students needed a place to learn. Temporary buildings were bought by FEMA, and eventually new schools were built.
"We're fortunate. We just opened 3 new schools last year. Juban Parc Elementary, Juban Parc Junior High in the Denham Springs district and South Fork Elementary in the Walker district," Spear said.
Those three brand-new schools have helped cut down on the demand, which in turn reduced the need for temporary buildings needed to the point that the school system didn't have to purchase any additional temporary buildings this year.
But within the pre-kindergarten program that's a different story. A $2 million federal grant geared toward Pre-K was cut by 7 percent. Instead of teacher layoffs, money to rent temporary buildings as classrooms was cut.
"It's not cost-effective. The grant won't pay pay for the buildings anymore, we're better off to purchase them," Spear said.
That decision was left up to the individual school districts. French Settlement, Walker and Holden chose to buy the trailer-like buildings for $42,943, $56,133 and $35,133, respectively. Denham Springs and South Side elementary schools within the Denham Springs school chose to continue renting the buildings, but now taxpayers in that district are footing the bill.
The remaining Pre-K grant money now pays for teacher salaries and supplies for those grades.