ST. JAMES, LA (WAFB) - Parents from the small community of St. James spoke from the heart Tuesday night about the decision by Superintendent Dr. Lonnie Luce to close one of the wings of Fifth Ward Elementary school, moving a projected 160 students Pre-K through sixth grade closer together.
"Fifth ward has been a lot in our community for 45 years and we want it to continue to be there," said one parent.
Clyde Cooper is one of those parents with two children at Fifth Ward and says closing one wing of the school creates and unsafe mix of younger and older students and is just the first step in closing down the school for good.
"They're recruiting students from Fifth Ward School which every parent wants a better education for their children and they're pulling them in those areas instead of putting a magnet program at Fifth Ward to draw students there," said Cooper.
Luce says only a continuation of lower enrollment numbers would be enough to close any school and believes closing a wing could actually make fifth ward safer.
"We looked at it and thought it would be safer to have consolidation and teachers and administrators in one spot. To me it's more unsafe with a big campus with empty classes that people can hide and do things in," said Luce.
The board pledged to work with local council members and consider bringing in Head Start students from portable units in order to keep both wings open at Fifth Ward Elementary.