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Student enrollment decrease following flood to impact Livingston teachers

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LIVINGSTON – Some teachers will not be returning to Livingston Parish following the August flood, due to a decline in student enrollment.

Parish schools got back to their campuses following the flood just weeks ago and more changes are coming for the staff.

"Some schools, they lose populations so they have to lose teachers, some gain populations so they add teachers. This year we have more losing than we have adding," Superintendent Rick Wentzel said.

According to Wentzel, 42 teacher positions will disappear in the fall.

"About 578 students down so it's in the neighborhood of 25,500 students we have which is down from the 26,000 we started the year with," Wentzel said.

Of the 42 positions that will be terminated, 23 of them will be from schools around Denham Springs, which was one of the areas hit the hardest during the flood.

"Most of our Denham Springs schools were significantly impacted by the flooding, with student numbers, so as a result there will be staff cuts," Wentzel said.

At Denham Elementary, six positions have already been terminated along with six positions at Southside Elementary.

Louisiana Association for Educators President Debbie Meaux said that the elimination of positions is a part of the parish's 'Reduction of Personnel' Plan.

"Livingston Parish does have a plan. What we found is they are going to reduce staff in two major avenues," Meaux said.

In making the 42 cuts to staff, the parish considers the ratio of teachers to students, along with classroom performance scores. However, there is concern that the cuts could have a negative impact on students.

"Children often form attachments to their teachers. I would hate for any child to feel like a teacher is not going to be there for them in the future," Meaux said.

Wentzel remains hopeful that the summer will bring back more students and jobs for teachers.

"It's a timely process to get the houses built so they can move back. "We're hoping even over the summer that we will get an increased enrollment, with the students returning back, so we can add some of these teachers back to these schools," Wentzel said.


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