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LPSS votes to postpone installing portables at Southside

Final vote was 9-0
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Posted at 10:04 PM, Feb 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-12 22:55:32-05

LAFAYETTE — The Lafayette Parish School Board met Wednesday night to discuss again the possibility of installing portable buildings at Southside High School.

The initial vote to spend USDA funds on those portable buildings happened in December in an attempt to fight overcrowding at the new facility in Youngsville. After the vote, former board member Jeremy Hidalgo praised the decision as one that would deter rezoning of the Southside district. However, the decision met some criticism from other board members, who questioned why a new school would need butler buildings so quickly.

A request to rescind the board's action from December was received from a board member.

A motion to rescind was made by Elroy Broussard and seconded by Donald Aguillard. There was no public comment, but board member Justin Centanni (District 6) initiated a short discussion among board members and the administration of Southside regarding the capacity of the school.

Southside can hold about 2,000 students, according to administration. They said they do not see the numbers getting that high until the 2022 school year, and at that point, they would look into hiring more roving teachers. Roving teachers are those who move from classroom to classroom as they teach a group of students. For example, during one teacher's planning period, another teacher comes in and uses that space. Thus, no classroom is ever left empty.

If the school exceeds 2,000 students, they would potentially add two more roving teachers, which means the school could hold around 50 more students.

However, administrators say that is not a current issue. They added that because of the high numbers of students, spaces in the school that were not intended to be used as classrooms have had to be utilized as such. Now, though, they are starting to see a stabilization in enrollment and what the "true numbers" of incoming freshmen classes would be.

After the discussion, Centanni moved that the board direct the Superintendent indefinitely postpone the implementation of portable buildings at Southside, saying that he is convinced the school "doesn't need the buildings now," but is concerned they may in the future. He said he would like the board to have a plan in place in the eventuality the portables are necessary.

The board carried the motion, voting 9-0 to indefinitely postpone installing the portable buildings.

In the event Southside does need to install portables in the future, the project would have to be completed by August 2021. That's when the money allocated to the project is set to expire. If that doesn't happen, the board will have to meet, discuss, and vote again on the installation.