Livingston parish school system says no to St. Helena

POSTED: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 - 3:37pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 - 4:13pm

Livingston parish school officials say there's just not enough room for Saint Helena public school students in their district. That's according to documents filed in federal court.

You'll recall, plaintiff's in a 57-year desegregation case suggested sending 850 Saint Helena students to neighboring school systems in Livingston and Tangipahoa after their facilities failed inspection, but parents in Livingston Parish say they don't want any extra kids from the crumbling district in their schools.

Parents say they're worried that the influx of students could change the way their children learn. "The teacher-student ratio will be out of proportion," says Albany mom, Amy Dozar.

That's why the Livingston Parish school system filed a memorandum in US district court saying that while the parish is sympathetic with St. Helena's current situation, school board members are "concerned that overcrowded conditions already existing in Livingston's schools would only be made more severe" if St. Helena students were bussed in.

The Live Oak and Albany schools would more than likely be affected. They're they closest to Saint Helena parish, a 30 minute bus ride one way from the two failed schools.

The problem is that both Live Oak and Albany schools have their own problems. Live Oak High School was built in 1958. There are 17 T-buildings littering the campus.

According to the memorandum, "the overcrowding situation has become so dire that voters in the Live Oak community were willing to fund a bond issue pledging a combination of sales and property taxes to build a new high school on which construction is about to begin."

Albany has a similar situation. "We already some kids who had to stand," says Sarah Mcalister, a former Albany High student.

The memorandum, filed by Livingston school board attorney Carey T. Jones, goes on to say that "it may be able to absorb 10-15 students at any one of its Live Oak or Albany schools, but any more would move toward jeopardizing the health, safety, and education of the students."

Concerns about crossing district lines was yet another issue discussed. Officials in Livingston parish worry that the issue has the "potential to complicate any court-ordered transfer of students to non-party school systems."

The memorandum mentioned that Clinton High School in East Feliciana is not being used at the moment. That parish had consolidated its schools, leaving that facility empty for the time being. Livingston parish officials suggested sending the St. Helena students there instead. The bus ride is two minutes shorter, according to Google maps.

"If it is correct that a single facility would accomodate the St. Helena student body and faculty intact, use of that facility would make better sense than a disbursement of St. Helena students among other schools and school districts."

Superintendent Douglas Beauchamp says today is the first time he had heard anything about the St. Helena students using that facility. He says Clinton High is too small. It would only accomodate about 300 students at most.

Check out the attachment below to see the memorandum filed with the US District Court.

st helena mem.pdf431.43 KB

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