In Opelousas, Southwest and North Elementary schools will be closing at the end of the school year.
After weeks of debate, the school board approved a school configuration plan, including closing those two schools. Grolee, Park Vista, and Northeast will not house Pre-k through 4th grades and South Street Elementary will now house grades 5th and 6th. Monday night’s vote is the start of a long process for the school system.
“It’s very very tough, but I do know. No matter what school they go to, they’re going to be an asset to that school. I have wonderful teachers and I have wonderful support staff,” Principal Michele Thobodeaux said.
Thibodeaux learned on Monday that her school, North Elementary, would be closing at the end of the year. Her staff gathered around and supported one another after hearing the news.
“As sad as they are and as disappointed as they are, they are going to go out strong this year. They are not going to just give up, and wherever they go, they will be good teachers because they are good teachers now at North Elementary,” said retired principal, Sandra Gamache.
It was a decision the board didn’t take lightly.
“Change is very hard. My heart goes out to those communities, to the teachers and the staff they’ve been working very hard to improve those schools and provide quality education to those students,” said Superintendent Patrick Jenkins.
Jenkins says the next phase starts now. A demographer will start drawing new school zones on Wednesday and staff will start to be reassigned in the near future.
“Unfortunately in our Opelousas zone schools, we had several “D” and “F” schools and its been like that for a few years. We want to raise the level of rigor and raise academics. We have been trying everything that we could but it hasn’t been successful. We want to try something so we can have some success for our children and our community,” Jenkins said.