Two schools close as area deals with losses due to oil price free fall
MORGAN CITY - An elementary school in this onetime oil rich St. Mary Parish city will close because of a significant loss in sales taxes.
M.D. Shannon Elementary is one of two schools slated for closure recently. The other, J.A. Hernandez Elementary in Franklin, will also close its doors. The closures will save the St. Mary Parish school district about $3.6 million a year.
The closures won't force layoffs, though. Students at J.A. Hernandez will attend nearby Foster Elementary or LaGrange Elementary in Franklin; in Morgan City, children at M.D. Shannon will attend either Wyandotte Elementary or M.E. Norman Elementary.
The district is bracing for even more financial hardships. In the 2016-2017 budget, officials expect a $4 million to $8 million shortfall.
The parish is perhaps one of the hardest-hit areas of the oil price drop. In a special report on WBRZ News 2 and WBRZ.com in February, St. Mary officials told reporter Natalia Verdina the parish saw a 15% drop in sales taxes. Unemployment in St. Mary Parish is 7%, but economists believe there are more people out of work since most people come into the parish for work and leave when the work ends.
The oil industry slowdown has also impacted people who don't even work in the industry. Bar owner Lori Broussard said in the report, her bar is faltering.
"I have not made a profit off the bar since June," Broussard explains said.
Click HERE to read and watch the special Boom to Bust from WBRZ and WBRZ.com.
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