Could Budget Cuts Force These Caddo Parish Schools to Close?
SHREVEPORT, LA - Caddo Parish educators might soon be having tough conversations about closing some schools that are dealing with declining enrollment numbers.
What Does the Caddo Superintendent Say About Closing Schools?
Caddo Superintendent Dr. Lamar Goree says "since 2000 we have closed 21 sites. 11 of those have closed since I have been Superintendent. We are seeing a decline in our entire population."
He says we have to have the conversation about consolidating schools to continue to be fiscally responsible. Dr. Goree adds: "we are aware that there is a need for some consolidation. But I remind you that we are dealing with children and this is an emotional issue."
Dr. Goree says he plans to bring a plan before the board when they go into budget discussions later this year. "We want to make sure we build a plan that our community can live within. But there are also other things we can do to balance the budget and be fiscally responsible. This is not an easy conversation. It never has been, but it's a necessary one. And I do think we have prepared our board and our community for what's to come."
What One Caddo Board Member Says About Consolidations
Caddo School Board member Don Little tells KEEL News the parish is oversized by about 30%. He says we can accommodate 42,000 students and we have only 32,000 on the books. He adds: "we are bleeding out about 1,000 children every year. These students are going to Texas, DeSoto Parish, Bossier and other places."
He says the parish gets about $5,500 in funding from the state for each child. That's about $5.5 million a year. Little says:
When you look at a half empty school it's sometimes twice as expensive to educate a child in that school. We have some schools where it costs close to $15,000 a student to educate. In our full schools, it's closer to $5500. These older schools are also much more difficult to protect and maintain. They are inefficient in terms of size and classroom capacity.
He says the way to right size that is to make some difficult decisions in terms of your schools. You have to look at consolidation but you have to that in a way that there is some light built into it.
He says "if you take 4 half empty schools and close them and build one big beautiful school that is much more efficient, you have economy of scale and your operating expenses go down exponentially."