Enrollment up as Livingston Parish schools bounce back from 2016 flood
DENHAM SPRINGS - It’s been a long journey, but Livingston Parish Schools are seeing a comeback after they were impacted by last year's flood.
Following the flood at the beginning the previous school year, more than 500 students were displaced. This also put teachers jobs in jeopardy, with about 42 teaching positions came close to being terminated after the decline.
“We were down 573 students down that we lost due to the flood,” Livingston Parish School Board Superintendent Rick Wentzel said.
However, just over a day before the first day of school, teachers are busy getting the classrooms set up. Wentzel explained that as the flood-damaged homes have come back, so have a significant number of students.
“What we're finding out is a lot of people are finally getting back into their homes, and obviously, their children are coming back with them and enrolling in our schools,” Wentzel said.
Denham Springs Elementary is one of the three Livingston schools to start the 2017-18 year in a temporary campus. However, this hasn't slowed down the incoming student population.
“I was staffed with 48 kindergarten students. That's where we ended with at the end of last year, but we already have 75 registered for this year," Denham Springs Elementary Principal Gail DeLee said. "So, just last week I hired a new kindergarten teacher.”
Along with home and business restoration, school officials believe LEAP scores are another contributing factor to the enrolling and re-enrolling of students. The tests place Livingston Parish Schools ninth in the state.
“We’re right at 70 in our new teacher orientation the other day. So those are new teachers, on top of the others we brought back, so we're still growing,” DeLee said.
As for the teacher’s whose jobs were on the line, they can now breathe easy and prepare for what they hope is a year of normalcy.
“For some of the teachers who we weren't sure we were able to employ them, we were able to bring them back and put them in positions. We even hired some new people, as well,” Wentzel said.
Last year, following the flood, Wentzel made a statement that Livingston Parish Schools would come back ‘stronger than ever’ and so far, he wasn’t wrong. The parish's school year is set to begin Aug. 9.