Enrollment dispute halts school construction in Slaughter

Enrollment dispute halts school construction in Slaughter
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)

EAST FELICIANA PARISH, LA (WAFB) - There is trouble surrounding a brand new school set to be built in East Feliciana Parish.

Construction crews have arrived, but they can't get to work because of a disagreement in the contract. If it is not resolved soon, the project could be delayed.

Students of Slaughter Community Charter School (SCC) are gone for the summer. But during the school year, more than 300 of them shuffle between temporary buildings on campus. Principal Clint Ebey said the school is at capacity.

"We are just bursting at the seams. So we need something," Ebey said.

Ebey said the growing enrollment is a reflection of the school's performance.

Since it opened five years ago, the school has climbed from a "D" on the state report card to a high "B." Board members secured an $8 million USDA loan for a new school to be built on the same property. Construction was supposed to start this summer.

Glen LeDoux, president of the SCC School Board, said contractors are parked over a feud between the school and the East Feliciana Parish School Board over student enrollment.

"We've done everything we were supposed to do, and then they phone this in at us, and now we don't know what to do," LeDoux said.

LeDoux said when the charter was established, the contract with the parish included an enrollment of 385 students. The parish is now trying to cut that number to 292. If that happens, LeDoux said the school would have to start from scratch.

"We're going to have to go back to the USDA, do another feasibility study. We'll have to take a building out. We'll have to reapply for our loan, which could take us another two and a half years," LeDoux said.

LeDoux said he is not sure why the parish school board would put the new school in jeopardy, but former charter president Andre Greenup, who helped establish the school, said it could be political.

"The northern part of the parish is against this school and they always have been," Greenup said.

Greenup said parish school board members have long feared the SCC would draw students away from East Feliciana High School. However, charter members said enrollment numbers show otherwise and that is simply not true.

"We did not start this school to compete with the district schools. There was a need in this community and we fulfilled that need," Greenup said.

SCC board members said they would like to resolve the matter as soon as possible so that they can get back to building brighter futures for students in Slaughter. Carlos Sam, superintendent of the East Feliciana Public Schools, did not return calls for comment.

The parish school board is set to vote on the final contract at its meeting on June 7. Meanwhile, the SCC board has sent a letter to parents encouraging them to contact their district school board representatives to express their concerns.

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