Education advocate says CPSB unfairly targeting minority schools for closure

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - A local education advocate said instead of closing Reynaud Middle School, the Calcasieu Parish School Board should keep the school open.

On Tuesday, the school board's budget committee passed a motion to close the school. With an enrollment of fewer than 150, board members said closing the school could save the financially-strapped district $2.3 million. The district must find a way to make up for a $2.23 million deficit, which is a result of a decline in sales tax revenue.

"I think it's absolutely ridiculous to have a middle school with 150 kids and in many cases one teacher per six students," said Bill Jongbloed, a CPSB member.

Rev. J.L. Franklin, executive director for the Southwest Louisiana Community School Advocacy Council, said he believes the district unfairly targets majority African-American schools when considering which institutions to close. He says Reynaud Middle School is the latest example.

"Unitary status would not fly, so they chose not to do it that way. They chose to do it another way," said Franklin. "There seems to be a spirit of meanness toward African-American schools."

Franklin said the district should find different ways of saving money, rather than closing schools like Reynaud.

"Let's fix them. Let's find out what the problems are," said Reynaud. "Let's go into these schools; give the schools the resources and the teachers they rightfully need and deserve."

Franklin said his group is considering filing a lawsuit against the district.

The budget committee voted to take 19 administrative interns and two elementary library clerks off the chopping block, but the jobs of 15.5 elementary, 24.5 middle school and nine high school teachers remain at risk.

The full school board will consider the proposed cuts, including whether to close Reynaud Middle School, next week.

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