A potential move of the fourth-grade classrooms was on the agenda for the March meeting of the Morehouse Parish School Board, which was held Tuesday evening.
The plan, presented by Ralph Davenport and Cathy Yeldell, outlined the advantages of moving the class to Henry V. Adams and Pine Grove Elementary. At present, fourth graders are bussed to the Morehouse Jr. High School campus and Davenport said moving this grade back to elementary campuses would not only provide more safety to those students as they would not be on campus with older students but also provide a financial boost to the system.
“A lot of the students promoted from HV Adams and Pine Grove left the system because the parents did not want their children at the junior high,” said Davenport. “If we move this class back, I think we will see more stay in the system.”
The plan also calls for special education students to be moved back to these two schools as well as solves a transportation issue, as buses make two runs each day; the first run is for fourth grade through 12th grade and the second run is for pre-k through third grade. According to Davenport, the first run is overcrowded, and the second run is almost empty. By moving the fourth grade back to elementary, it would even out the runs.
Lastly, the schools would be eligible for growth points in their state grading. The criteria for these points is to have two grades that test. As it is presently, both schools only have one grade which is tested, therefore not eligible for the points.
Both District 2 and District 6 Board members, Louis Melton and Chastity Kennedy were against the plan.
“I strongly disagree,” said Melton. “We have Cherry Ridge, a perfectly good school, sitting empty. Why not put the fourth and fifth grades at Cherry Ridge and move the eighth grade back to the Jr. High?
“We are losing kids because parents are sick and tired of every year, their kids are going to a different school and kids scoring approaching basic and unsatisfactory have a problem getting into the Magnet and charter schools.”
Kennedy agreed with Melton and added that less than year years ago, the consolidation plan addressed these same items.
“Here we are again, with another brilliant plan to move fourth graders,” Kennedy said. “Pine Grove needs to go, to close. We need to think about the physiological effect moving has on the children.”
Melton then made a motion to not accept the plan, with Kennedy seconding. This motion carried.
Other items included awarding a bid of $10 per acres for a lease of a 108-acre property located on the Old Bonita Road and comments from Regina Holmes, a parent of a student at Morehouse Jr. High School, whom was allegedly injured by a teacher.
Holmes, who broke down as she spoke about an incident in which her son’s arm was strained, said she filed a report with the Bastrop Police Department, who conducted an investigation. She also received a letter from Superintendent Hazel Sellers, which stated that an apology from the teacher was sufficient.