Caddo Parish School Board approves Reinvest in Caddo proposal

Caddo Parish School Board approves Reinvest in Caddo proposal
Packed house at the Caddo Parish School Board meeting.
Packed house at the Caddo Parish School Board meeting.

CADDO PARISH, LA (KSLA) - The future of Caddo Parish public schools is now in the hands of the voters, after the Caddo Parish School Board voted unanimously to approve the plan and send it to voters for their approval.

However Superintendent Lamar Goree's "Reinvest in Caddo Schools" plan has so much included in it, some parts are very popular in some communities, but in others it is not.

"You asked for a board that cares #1 for the children, this is a board that cares, let's vote for it," said School Board Member Dottie Bell at Tuesday's meeting.

In a 12-0 vote, the Caddo Parish School Board chose to get behind Superintendent Goree's plan. But voters will have the final say on whether to pay for the plan or not with a millage renewal.

The $108 million plan calls for closing six schools, building 3 new schools, and other additions to schools across the parish such as new auditoriums, classroom wings, a library, auxiliary gymnasiums and activity centers.

The plan would also fund 20 new air-conditioned school buses and a new heating and air system at C.E. Byrd High School, as well as upgrades to science labs at all of the parish's high schools.

“Reinvest in Caddo is our chance to provide the best learning environments for our boys and girls while ensuring we remain fiscally responsible and energy efficient,” said Caddo Schools' Superintendent Dr. Lamar Goree. “It is time for us as a district to dream again.”

The school board's vote came after several residents spoke both for and against it, including Shreveport City Councilman Jeff Everson.

"That is a historic amount of schools to close in one area, a historic insult for a historic neighborhood," said Everson, referring to the Highland/Stoner Hill neighborhoods.

Tiffany Bolzan, a mom and 4th grade teacher, encouraged the board to approve the plan.

"I just feel that better schools that are equipped with technology, more space that is adequate to house our students, would be better for Caddo Parish," said Bolzan.

"Right now the people of Highland are very angry," said Tom Arceneaux, the president of the Highland Restoration Association.

With 4 schools slated to close in their area, he says the Highland community feels they should've been part of the process from the beginning.

"They feel they were mistreated, they feel that they were ignored, they feel they were victimized, that is a lot to overcome between now and the 2nd of May," said Arceneaux. 

If the plan passes, the following schools would close: Barret Paideia Academy, Creswell Elementary, E-B Williams-Stoner Hill Elementary, the current Blanchard Elementary site, Jack P. Timmons Elementary, and the Alexander Learning Center.

The three new schools would be built in the Highland/Stoner Hill area, Blanchard, and South East Shreveport. 

It will be on the ballot on May 2nd of this year. If it is approved, the funding could be available as early as this fall. If it isn't approved, Superintendent Goree has said, there is no "plan b".

Over the next few months, Goree says the district staff will host community meetings to educate the public regarding Reinvest in Caddo. 

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