NEW ROADS — Pointe Coupee Schools Superintendent Linda D’Amico is revising her plan to transform Pointe Coupee Central High into a college readiness and career academy after the proposal was met with staunch criticism Monday night from School Board members and several residents who all had varying ideas about the campus’ future.
Several board members said D’Amico’s plan lacked the extracurricular amenities traditionally found in high school settings while others expressed doubts the idea would attract a diverse population of students to the campus — which has been attended predominately by black students.
Residents in the community where the school is located also voiced opposition to the superintendent’s proposal, offering instead their desire to see the school serve as the school district’s lone public high school.
The future of PCCH has been a controversial issue since its forced shutdown by U.S. District Judge James J. Brady. The state’s Recovery School District, which ran the school for six years, asked the court in March to return jurisdiction of the school to the parish school system after RSD failed to improve the struggling school’s academic performance.
The more than 180 students who were attending PCCH were transferred this fall to Livonia High.
As part of the judge’s court order, the School Board was also asked to develop a plan for Central High to be approved by the court.
Baton Rouge attorney Bob Hammonds, who serves as the district’s attorney in the desegregation lawsuit tied to this issue, told the board during its special meeting Monday that whatever plan the district comes up with for Pointe Coupee Central will have to appeal to a large portion of the parish’s students, both black and white.
“The problems the court had were based on the fact that a very small number of white students were attending the school,” Hammonds said. “Unless the board can come forth with plan that has the possibility to attract diverse sectors of population, it won’t get the approval of court.”
The superintendent said she has talked about opening enrollment to the proposed academy to private school students in the parish as a way to attract white students.
D’Amico in July presented to the board plans to rename the campus Pointe Coupee Early College/Career Academy and provide prospective students an extensive number of dual-enrollment opportunities.
The superintendent’s proposal, which would cost the district approximately $1.5 million in its inaugural year, would involve a partnership with Baton Rouge Community College and other local businesses.
Students would be able to earn high school diplomas and associate degrees simultaneously or industry-based certification that could jump-start their entry into the workforce.
D’Amico expounded on the idea during the nearly four-hour special meeting Monday by saying enrollment would be limited to approximately 200 students in its inaugural year.
That did not sit well with board member Tom Nelson.
“Why are we talking about limiting the number of students?” he asked. “I would like to see every student that would like to attend that school be able to attend that school. And the school should include a sports programs as well as the arts.”
D’Amico made no indication Monday about when she intends to present an amended version of her plan to the board. However, the item is set to be discussed again at the School Board’s regular meeting Thursday night.
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