Pointe Coupee school board hears parents, teachers but doesn't fix budget shortfall
NEW ROADS - More than 100 people showed up for the Pointe Coupee school board meeting Thursday to talk about how to plug a $1.5 million hole in the system's budget. Those that couldn't fit in the room listened in from the hallway.
On the agenda, was Superintendent Kim Canezaro's proposal to cut the deficit. Her plan featured several items, including closing Rougon Elementary and Upper Pointe Coupee Elementary. Canezaro also suggested moving to a four-day class week, from Tuesday through Friday.
Parents and teachers focused mainly on the proposed closures of the two elementary schools.
"A good portion of our school population comes to us by choice," one Rougon teacher said. They choose to be with us. They want to be with us at Rougon.
"I don't want to sit here and tell you how wonderful our staff is and all of our accomplishments," an Upper Pointe Coupee Elementary staff member said. "I want you to look at our babies. I want you to see them in the classroom. I want you to talk to them."
"How do you plan to make me and my classmates successful at another school," one Rougon student asked the board. "We are family at Rougon. We feel safe here and we grew up here."
Another question posed to board members was, "Why do our kids have to be a sacrifice." I know there is something else we can do instead of closing Upper Pointe Coupee."
Ultimately, the board chose to table, or put aside temporarily, any decisions about closures or other cost-saving measures. For some teachers, that decision brings with it uncertainty.
"We can't sit around all summer and wait on us to know if we're gonna have a job," Kelsey Platt, a kindergarten teacher at Rougon, said. "It doesn't work like that. Just having this on our mind from tonight, it's hard."
Canezaro would not answer media questions about her plans, instead suggesting WBRZ speak with Board President Tom Nelson.
"We want to keep all schools open, but we have to do something in order to get a balanced budget," Nelson said. "We've got a 1.5 million dollar deficit. We have to do something, we have to cut somewhere."
Board members proposed creating a committee to work through suggestions on how to cut the deficit. Each member will select two constituents to work with the committee. The cost-saving measures are expected to be back on the board's agenda over the next two months.