St. James residents’ school concerns unheard for now

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 23, 2013

By David Vitrano

LUTCHER – A fairly sizeable group of citizens from the west bank of St. James Parish turned out for Tuesday’s school board meeting only to have their concerns put off until a later date.
The group showed up in response to recent plans by the district to close Fifth Ward Elementary School in the far western portion of the west bank of the parish and were poised to speak on an item concerning redistricting on the west bank. That item, however, was deferred until a later date so it can have more dialogue with the community before finalizing a redistricting plan.
“The board decided to hold some more community meetings before we decide on that,” said Superintendent Alonzo Luce.
Earlier in the day, a community meeting was held at Lutcher Elementary School, the other school in the parish on the chopping block, and a similar meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 27, at 5 p.m. at Fifth Ward Elementary.
The impetus to close the schools came about as a result of a third-party study done on all the parish’s school facilities as well as parish demographics and population trends.
The findings are available to view on the district’s website.
While those who came to the meeting seeking an opportunity to speak left disappointed, the many winners from the recent science fairs as well as students of the year all left with a smile on their faces.
The meeting began with trophies for all the science fair winners and special prizes for the overall winners in each division.
The overall winners in the elementary and junior divisions were Noah Detillier and Maria Detillier of St. Peter Chanel and Charity Cooper of Fifth Ward Elementary. The senior division overall winner, Colby Kraemer of St. James High, will compete at the International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix in May.
Reserve Telecommunications provided the awards for the students of the year, and company representatives Bill Ironside, Phyllis Madere and Katie Klibert were on hand to help hand out the goodies. All school-level winners received a backpack while the district-level winners each received a Kindle Fire HD tablet computer.
The district-level winners were Trystan Tregre of Vacherie Elementary for fifth grade, Melanie Frederic of Lutcher High for eighth grade and Caitlyn Daigle of Lutcher High for 12th grade.
After all the awards were handed out, the students and parent in attendance were treated to a pastalaya dinner.
Also Tuesday, the school board approved the final group of new policies, bringing it in line with the most recent legislation, as well as a new employee salary schedule and a school calendar for the 2013-14 school year.