Bolton High School changes, bus drivers discussed at RPSB committee meeting

The Rapides Parish School Board discussed changes to Bolton High School and hiring bus drivers.
Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 3:52 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 19, 2023 at 11:15 PM CDT
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RAPIDES PARISH, La. (KALB) - The Rapides Parish School Board’s committee meetings took place on Tuesday, September 19, as the District 62 committee discussed a motion on renovations to Bolton High School, in order for it to change into a magnet school starting next year.

The focus was on the school’s windows, which need work, but there have been concerns over the school losing its historic registry status in the process.

The board was given three options: one to repaint the windows, which would cost approximately $150,000, one to repaint and refurbish the windows, which would make them energy-efficient, costing half a million dollars, and one to replace the windows completely, wiping out the historical aspects of Bolton. That would cost about a million dollars.

Rapides Parish Superintendent Jeff Powell suggested the board choose option two. Regardless of the board’s eventual decision, he said he is eager to see progress on the magnet school moving forward.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to communicate and collaborate with so many people from the community related to the importance of maintaining Bolton’s historical status,” said Powell.

The board sent this motion to the October regular meeting.

Also in the committee meetings, the school board is sending two motions that would allow the board to hire 15 new full-time bus drivers to its October regular agenda. At the board’s committee meetings, Powell proposed two motions to reduce the budgeted amount for substitute bus operator pay and hire 10 full-time bus operators as substitute drivers.

He also proposed reducing the budget for salaries for extra work and hiring five additional full-time operators for special education, magnet and Rapides alternative positive program students. Powell said he and the newly named transportation director, Alan Fontenot, worked on a plan to combat the issue of the bus driver shortage in Rapides.

Powell added that the district has added 19 new full-time bus drivers to its staff this year in hopes of avoiding drivers having several different routes on their plates.

“We’re allocating some additional funds to put more contract drivers on the road, and so we’ll be doing a marketing campaign to see how many folks will be willing to come in and join us here in the Rapides Parish School Board and prove their better togetherness by helping drive some school buses for us,” Powell said.

Both motions were sent to the consent agenda with the board taking possible action also at the October 5 regular meeting.

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