OPELOUSAS — The St. Landry Parish School Board voted 8-4 Thursday to relocate a program for expelled students from a site with portable buildings to a nearby campus now used for virtual learning.
The board also agreed to schedule a meeting with board attorney Bob Hammonds to discuss the process of selecting a new superintendent. Superintendent Edward Brown’s contract, which was not renewed, ends Dec. 31.
As for moving the expelled students, Debra Faul, program facilitator for the St. Landry Alternative School, said the board made the right decision by choosing to house them at the district’s Center for Academic Programs.
Both the current alternative school and the Center for Academic Programs are adjacent to the district’s central office in Opelousas.
Students enrolled in the virtual school program at the center will now attend classes at the St. Landry Alternative Training School located north of Opelousas.
Faul said the current alternative school, used for the past 11 years, has structural issues such as crowded classrooms when the program operates at full capacity, faulty plumbing in a bathroom, and a main building with moisture issues and rotting floors.
Faul said students were attending classes in an 11-year-old converted double-wide trailer in addition to a portable unit.
Faul said the alternative program has had as many as 138 students. She said 34 are registered to attend when school starts in August.
Brown had presented the board three options: renovating the existing portable buildings, moving the school to the Center for Academic Programs or sending the students to a portion of the Opelousas Junior High campus. Brown told the board the district has paid $2,100 monthly to lease the portable building. It would cost the district another $5,500 to move the buildings, he said.
Repairing the portable buildings or perhaps moving other buildings owned by the board to the alternative campus would be the most financially feasible option, Brown said.
Board member Mary Ellen Donatto said keeping the students in portable buildings is an obsolete idea. “(The district) has been trying to get out of the portable building business, and this is an opportunity for us to do that,” Donatto said.
Brown said the issues with moving the alternative program to the Center for Academic Programs meant having alternative students sharing bathrooms with students enrolled in the virtual learning program.
And, board member Anthony Standberry disagreed with sending the expelled students to the junior high, which has been trying to improve its overall educational program.
Faul told the board that most of students attending the alternative school have been expelled from OJHS. He said returning those students to the same campus was not a good idea.
Voting to move the alternative school to Center for Academic Programs were Standberry, Charles Ross, Milton Ambres, Hazel Sias, Donatto, Raymond Cassimere, Randy Wagley and Albert Hayes.
Those voting “no” were Donnie Perron, Candace Gerace, Kyle Boss and Roger Young. Huey Wyble did not attend the meeting.