Morehouse School Board Needing $3 Million & Budget Reduction

BASTROP -- The Morehouse Parish School Board cited an eroding tax base with Bastrop's loss of International Paper and three failed tax proposals in the last two years as reasons for the need to reduce their budget.

At Tueday night's school board meeting, a plan was put out.

It was standing room-only inside the Morehouse Parish School Board Meeting Room as district leaders discussed how they plan to accomplish a $3.8 million reduction to balance the budget.

Superintendent Dr. George Noflin outlined a three-pronged plan.

"I don't want to have any emotion in this decision. I tried to make sure that all the information that we had was based on numbers," he said.

The first part is a revision of school job descriptions, changing some 12-month employees down to 10 or even 9-month employees.

"We would address possible excess while employees retain jobs," Noflin said.

The second part is a reduction in force in which a list of proposed personnel would be terminated, including 11 teachers from various schools.

The third part is consolidation, possibly closing down two schools and moving students to other schools.

But what would cause a school to be closed?

"The present enrollment in the schools, the capacity of the schools, the academic performance of the schools," explained Noflin.

Noflin said the plan would reduce the budget by $3.4 million.

The plan was met with resistance by some board members.

"That is not called for when you have a school in the community that has passed a tax to keep that one school open," said District 2 School Board Member, Louis Melton.

Principals of some schools campaigned for their survival at the meeting.

"The enrollment decreased because the Louisiana Department of Education labeled us academically unacceptable because they didn't score our Special Ed kids correctly," said Dr. Kathy Adcock Fonte, Principal of Cherry Ridge Elementary School.

"That's all I want you to know. This is the first year that our scores have gone down and just give us an opportunity to prove ourselves and get our scores back up," said Principal of H.V. Adams Elementary School, Marilyn Taylor.

Some residents said if students are moved to other schools, they worry for the future.

"South Side [Elementary School] is only equipped to feed X number amount of kids. Are we going to get a bigger kitchen?" asked resident Maxine Brown.

That plan has not been approved.
Revisions to it could still be made and whatever form the plan takes could be approved at the board's meeting on Tuesday, March 18th at Bastrop High School.

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