BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Superintendent Joe Murphy says 26,296 children were enrolled in Livingston Parish schools on the first Monday of classes, passing pre-2016 flood totals for the first time.
“Our enrollment is back because our community is back,” Murphy said. “Our people are back in their houses, they’re recovered from this 2016 flood. It’s a direct reflection of everyone in this parish.”
Parents are still registering their children for classes. Thousands of students were displaced by the flooding, which decimated the school system in 2016.
Since then, the parish has made speedy progress toward reconstruction. Some schools still require light renovations, but the bulk of work is complete, School Board President Buddy Mincey said.
“I’m a part of a school district that’s always overcome,” Mincey said. “That’s what we do. That’s what we know. That’s what our people expect.”
In 2018, the parish finished the equivalent of building seven schools from scratch.
“The tragedy was real, and we’re still struggling,” Murphy said. “But oh my goodness, some great things have come out of it.”
Murphy specifically mentioned the STEM program, which is now housed on the old Southside Elementary campus. Some 65 future engineers are studying there today, using a special curriculum LSU helped to create.
The school system also added 22 new buses, which ultimately replaced a number of water-damaged vehicles.
Work is not complete though. The three condemned schools in Livingston Parish are not yet reconstructed.