Voters to decide education issue

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 16, 2002


One week from today St. John the Baptist Parish voters will decide whether sixth-grade students stay in their respective schools for seventh and eighth grades or are moved to Junior High/Middle School facilities.

According to Superintendent Michael Coburn, a $5 million bond issue, if accepted by voters, could fund the reconfiguration of the school system, keeping seventh- and eighth-grade classes on elementary school campuses.

“If the bond issue passes we have immediate plans to build new facilities on the (elementary schools) site,” Coburn said.

The transformation from the three-school (elementary, junior-high, high school) system to the two-school system is expected to take about two years. Under a two-year transfer period, students already in junior high would be allowed to remain next year, while new seventh-graders would not have to move to the junior high facilities.

According to Coburn, building new facilities on the elementary school campuses could take as much as 10 months. Classes would be held in trailers until construction was complete.

“The K-8 configuration is designed to help recruit and keep kids in our system,” Coburn said. “It’s going to help better our test scores and increase parental involvement.”

“Part of this is to retain and keep our kids – from losing them to whatever other system,” said Delia Taylor, public relations consultant. “Research shows K-8 schools do better on standardized tests, keeping certified teachers and offer greater help for student problems,” Taylor said.

“Sometimes students fall through the cracks when they change schools. If you don’t lose these kids you can minimize the problems that occur at those levels.”

Taylor said the idea of a K-8 configuration has been well received by parents and school administrators.

“This plan when approved will not increase any new taxes,” Coburn said. “We need to encourage voters to come out and vote.”

Absentee voting on the bond issue started Monday.