The Pointe Coupee Parish School Board has set a special meeting to determine the future of Pointe Coupee Central High following the school’s court-ordered closure this year at the request of the state’s Recovery School District.
It’s expected the Sept. 22 special meeting will involve a proposal from Schools Superintendent Linda D’Amico, who previously suggested transforming the campus into a college readiness and career academy.
It’s an idea that appeals to most of the board, but some said Friday it will take buy-in from the community before they could sign off on the endeavor.
The future of PCCH has been a hot-button 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.
“I get comments every day from the community asking about what we are going to do with Pointe Coupee Central,” board President Frank Aguillard said. “I like the aspect of a career academy. It’s something I think is going to benefit every child in Pointe Coupee. But I’m aware the community has their concerns and ideas about what should be done with it, and I’ve been listening to those as well.”
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 that would help establish a curriculum of business, computer network engineering, electrical, agricultural science, health services and manufacturing courses.
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.
The School Board tabled the idea during its July meeting so D’Amico could iron out details and address concerns of the board.
Given the community outcry in their districts over the shutdown, board members Chad Aguillard and Tom Nelson tried pushing an unsuccessful effort to implement D’Amico’s proposal this year instead of next.
On Friday, both men said they definitely want to see the school reopened next year and they are open to any ideas.
“At minimum, I want it to have a high school component similar to what’s going on in Lafayette,” Chad Aguillard said, referring to the Early College Academy that this week was ranked among the top 500 high schools in the country by Newsweek magazine.
The students at the Lafayette high school who take classes at South Louisiana Community College’s Lafayette campus can complete high school with a diploma and an associate degree in general studies.
“I’m not saying it (Pointe Coupee Central) has to be exactly like that, but I’m not opposed, at this time, to something that is coexisting within a high school framework,” Chad Aguillard added. “We’ll all have to be open-minded going into the meeting.”
Nelson said, “I want to make a decision that would be accepted by the community and the board. I really want to give the public an opportunity to say how they feel about it.”
Board member Brandon Bergeron shared similar sentiments but also expressed frustration that strategic planning meetings weren’t held prior to the call for the special meeting.
“I’m not going to agree with anything unless we can get unanimous support among the board and come up with a plan that the community buys into as well,” he said. “If not, we’ll be going down the same road we’ve been going down for several years prior to RSD taking over.”
Whatever plan school district officials decide on will need to be approved by the court.
The Sept. 22 special meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m.
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