Lincoln Parish Superintendent addresses school zone controversy

Local News

It’s the struggle of success.

Lincoln Parish is growing.

“With that are new people moving in and so those new people and number of people moving into Lincoln Parish are affecting the school system,” Lincoln Parish Superintendent, Mike Milstead, said.

Milstead says the feeling is bittersweet.

With Lincoln Parish schools growing so fast, he says he had a tough decision to make with kids who come out of Jackson parish to Choudrant for their education.

School board officials fear that their schools in Choudrant will reach capacity if they keep Jackson Parish students.

According to Milstead, Choudrant High School is nearing capacity with roughly 850 students and they expect that number to grow over the next three to five years.

“Being at a thousand obviously brings us to the question do we have the building capacity  to handle a thousand kids,” he said.

A move that has caused concern for families who have been bringing their kids to Choudrant for over five decades.

“This particular case there’s about 75 Jackson Parish kids that attend Lincoln Parish schools,” Milstead said.

“Nobody likes to take kids through  our established school setting and send them to a different school.”

However, a new school policy will make that the case. Jackson parish kids will have to attend Jackson Parish schools.

According to Milstead, Lincoln Parish School Board needs the breathing room to prepare for growth, but Jackson Parish Schools are also missing out on about $300,000 worth of government funding by not having those residents attend their schools.  

He says it’s the move that makes the most sense, but it’s still not an easy decision.

“That’s the hardest part for me personally,” he said.

“Kids that have traditionally come  parents who live in Jackson Parish all of their lives went to school at Choudrant. “

The change won’t be sudden. They don’t plan on fully enforcing the new rules for another four years.

“The kid that begins 9th grade next year at Choudrant High will be able to finish educational career at Choudrant  High School,” Milstead said.

Since the  announcement of the  move, Choudrant parents have been raising concerns that their kids wouldn’t see the same quality education in Jakson Parish.

However, as a former LIncon Parish, Milstead believes Jackson Parish residents are in good hands.

“We’re confident that the schools in Jackson Parish they will be going to are of equal caliber,” he said.

A tough call to make,  but according to school officials, it’s a necessary one.

“You look down the road 5, 10, 15 years we feel like it’s in the best interest of the Lincoln Parish School district and that’s what the Lincoln Parish School Board holds me accountable for,”” Milstead said.

The policy change will be enforced in four years. It mainly applies to people who live on the Jackson-Lincoln Parish line.

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