RPSB presents updates for new school zones at Tuesday committee meeting

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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - The Rapides Parish School Board announced that a link to a new website outlining the school zone reconfiguration in the district is set to appear on their website Wednesday.

They said the website will layout each school zone. Its purpose is to better explain the plan for each child currently attending the affected schools.

Parents will be able to click their child's current school and current grade. From there the website will tell them what school their child will attend and what zone they will be in. It will also show a map of the designated zone.

"It will be an ever evolving website because we will be adding information as it comes along," said Executive Assistant Superintendent Kim Bennett.

You can now visit the webpage by going to the related links section of this article.

This was just one of the many updates on the plan at the board's committee meeting Tuesday night. Superintendent Nason Authement said that they are actively working on a transportation plan for the new zones. He said they will be presented with a rough draft on Monday.

While principals have been placed for the schools, they hope to have teachers placed by March 9th.

"We are very excited because this is really giving teachers in our schools and staff a time to really be innovative, and think out of the box, to make sure that we are meeting the needs of all students," Bennett said about the plan. "It's really been amazing to see the ideas that come to the table."

The updates also addressed that a large portion of students in L.S. Rugg's special education program will be moved to Horseshoe Elementary, a school not affected by the new zones. At the board's February meeting, parents voiced concern about special education programs being moved around as a result of the new plan.

The updates on the "Blueprint for Success" packet handed out at the meeting listed the following plan for other special education classes:

Pre-K/K schools will house Early Childhood Special Education Classes (ECSE).
Zone 1 will house ECSE and Special Education Resource classes.
Zone 2 will house Emotionally Disturbed classes.
Zone 3 will house Moderate Special Education Classes.

Bennett said this will limit the stress of transition for those students and keep them together.

The committees also discussed motions to put on the agenda at the March school board meeting. A big item discussed was the proposal of "Freshman Academies" at Peabody Magnet High and Bolton High School.

Both schools were chosen for the program due to their low graduation rates. Director of Secondary Education Dr. Dana Nolan presented the plan and said the program would focus on getting freshman acclimated to high school, acting as a "school within a school."

Freshman would report to their own administrative team, with an Executive Assistant Principal, a lead teacher, a graduation/mentor coach and a counselor. Grades 10 through 12 will have an assistant principal, lead teacher and a guidance counselor. Both groups would answer to the principal at each high school.

Along with that idea, the board will vote on adding a Career Tech Ed Center at Peabody Magnet High. Nolan said that two-thirds of students in the parish don't go to college after they graduate high school and the district wants to change that.

They are working on a plan that would allow students at other high schools to attend tech classes at Peabody, while remaining at their base high school. The superintendent said the district would provide those students with transportation to Peabody from their base school.

During the discussion, board member Dr. Steven Chapman suggested that the ideas be discussed with parents and students at both Bolton and Peabody in a public forum before they vote on the matter in March. The board agreed and Bennett said they look to hold that public forum in the next two weeks.

The board will also vote on the possibility of rezoning Paradise Elementary, currently zoned for Pineville Jr. High and Pineville High School, to go to Lessie Moore and Pineville Elementary.

Bennett said some elementary students that currently live in Pineville travel farther away to Paradise when Lessie Moore and Pineville Elementary are closer to their home.

"We wanted to make sure those Elementary Schools were the true feeder of Pineville Jr. High," said Bennett.

She said that right now Paradise has roughly 450 students and this plan would bring them down to 260. A few of those teachers would be relocated to Lessie Moore and Pineville Elementary to meet the new staffing needs.

The next school board meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 6.

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