Rumors surround school property

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 12, 2003


RESERVE – The St. John the Baptist Parish School Board has not discussed plans for the Leon Godchaux Junior High campus. But rumors the school system will sell the property are pure speculation, Superintendent Michael Coburn said.

In July, voters approved Coburn’s plan to eliminate the transition from elementary school to junior high school. Under the proposal, seventh- and eighth-grade classes on the East Bank would be moved to elementary campuses, eliminating the need for the transitional junior high school.

Advocates of the reconfiguration claimed the change would promote parental involvement in education, ease student anxiety and help retain students in the school system. The proposal, however, also signaled the end of junior high schools within the parish. Within two years, school officials said, the doors to Leon Godchaux Junior High would be closed – at least to seventh- and eighth-grade students.

In 2002 (to 2003) seventh-grade students stayed on their respective elementary campuses. Students already on junior high school campuses were permitted to go on to eighth grade and to complete the eighth-grade curriculum at the junior high level.

Recently, the School Board accepted a proposed $2.4 million bid for the construction of seventh/eighth grade wings at LaPlace Elementary, John L. Ory and East St. John Elementary. Soon, seventh- and eighth-graders will have their own space at elementary schools.

LaPlace Elementary will get an eight-classroom addition, John L. Ory, a six-classroom addition and, East St. John, a 12-classroom addition.

The three new wings are expected to be complete by August.

Even after both seventh- and eighth-grade classes are gone, the old junior high school is likely to continue its service to parish students. Programs like the Success Academy, the Pre-GED and in-school suspension are held on the campus and are not likely to be moved anytime soon, Coburn said.

There has also been some discussion of using Leon Godchaux facilities for additional office space.

Just this summer, the School Board approved a measure to allow the parish government to buy school property on the West Bank provided that it be used for education or recreation.

The old Second Ward School property has been vacant for a number of years.

The parish government retracted its offer to buy the land just weeks ago stating that the property was too small for a recreational facility.

Coburn said the school system is currently looking at other avenues for the property.