NewsLocal NewsIn Your Parish


Oldest school in Iberia Parish closing doors to make way for new elementary

Posted at 5:35 PM, Dec 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-04 21:17:03-05

One of the oldest schools in Iberia Parish is set to close at the end of the school year.

Dodson Elementary School in New Iberia will be closing to make room for a new school: Belle Place Elementary.

Students from Dodson will go to either Belle Place or North Lewis Elementary School.

Leaving all three of the schools open would’ve cost the school system an additional $1.3 million per year.

To read more on the school board’s proposal, click here.

But when one door closes, another one opens.

“This is like a family, and our family will move with us over there and what we’ve done for our kids will come with us,” said Joan Musemeche, a resource teacher at the school.

She’s been a teacher at Dodson for 28 years,  but she has an even closer connection to the school.

“I came here from first through seventh grade, actually. That was before Pre-K and kindergarten. My mother was my teacher. That made things real interesting. I don’t think I said a word that whole year,” Musemeche laughed. “I went back to school when I was in my 30s and decided this is what I wanted to do and this is where I wanted to be, and it’s like coming home.”

Joan Musemeche as a student at Dodson

All the teachers and staff, including Musemeche, will transfer over to the new school, which will be equipped with new tools and technology.

Musemeche says she is ready for the change, but leaving will be bittersweet.

“There’s a flip side to everything. There’s good and bad. The good thing is that we are going to be in a new facility with new equipment. The bad thing is our kids are going to change. The kids we’ve known and loved since kindergarten, we’re going to lose them or a lot of them,” said the teacher.

In 2013, Iberia Parish voters approved a bond proposition to build a new school.

“In that time, that area of the parish was thriving, and subdivisions were popping up, and the need to expand was in that part of the parish. Well, since that time, the economy took a downturn, and there isn’t quite as much expansion. But now, preparing for the future, that school would be ready for expansion,” said Iberia Parish School Superintendent Carey Laviolette. “They’re going to a state-of-the-art school with all the bells and whistles of a new school, and they bring with them a culture of high achievement.”

Although the halls and building will look different when the Dodson community makes their move, one thing will carry with them.

“It’s changed here a lot since I’ve been here, so I’m not really attached to the building as much as the memories that were made here, so that, I can still have and take with me,” said Musemeche.

Dodson recently had some renovations, but Laviolette says those fixes will still be put to good use soon. The superintendent says Dodson’s closure is only temporary. The school system plans to reopen it again in the future for educational purposes but have not decided what exactly it will turn into.

The school board will host a special meeting on Wednesday at 5:30 to vote on the new zoning.