OIL CITY, LA (KSLA) - Plans to close the only school in Oil City to consolidate it with a school in Vivian are getting strong arguments on both sides.
Longtime principal Mike Irvin showed us the $5 million in work required to keep Oil City Magnet School open. That work ranges from Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance issues, which included elevators, to a new cafeteria and new parking lot.
"It's a 91-year old building. The cost at this time is pretty outrageous," explained Irvin.
The alternative: Move Oil City's 47 teachers and staff along with their nearly 400 Pre-K thru 8th students 9 miles north, to consolidate with the Vivian Elementary & Middle School.
Irvin said the Vivian facility is only at half capacity now, but can accommodate nearly 1,100 students. The new school, which could go under the name North Caddo Elementary and Middle School, would have a projected enrollment of about 900 students.
Irvin added that the decision is not just about money.
"We look at what our students are doing and what some opportunities for a large school would do, allowing for you know enrichments, advanced classes, athletics and those things," explained Irvin.
But not everyone is sold on this idea of merging Oil City and Vivian schools. In fact, Oil City parent Charlesetta Watson said she doesn't want her two children who attend the school to be that far away.
"Like if something happened, we stay a ways away from them and we can't get to them easily," said Watson.
Others fear it just pulls more people and jobs out of Oil City. Meanwhile, fourth generation Oil City alumna and current 4th grade teacher Brenda Smith told us she wants to stay, but understands why consolidation is being proposed.
"I think we as a faculty and staff are going to come together and, you know, make the best of the situation," said Smith.
District spokeswoman Mary Nash Wood said the consolidation would take effect for the upcoming 2016-17 school year and potentially save half a million dollars a year.
The Vivian-Oil City merger plan is expected to come up for discussion at the next Caddo School Board work session this coming Tuesday, June 7 at 4:30 p.m..
A final vote could come at their regular board meeting two weeks later, on Tuesday, June 21.