Rapides holds first round of meet and greets for community school zones

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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - In February the Rapides Parish School Board approved Superintendent Nason Authement's plan to create three community school zones with 12 schools in the district. Schools in each zone will focus on just a few grades in an effort to improve their low performance scores.

Monday principals and teachers were all smiles during a meet and greet for community school zone two.

"I think we are excited," said L.S. Rugg fifth grade teacher Sarah Utts.

Utts said the superintendent's plan has a lot of pros.

"Being able to collaborate, being able to build our pedagogy and working with our students," Utts said.

Other schools in zone two include: D.F. Huddle, North Bayou and Julius Patrick. Alexandria Middle Magnet was not present because their only change is losing sixth grade.

"They call that age group the tweens," said new Julius Patrick Assistant Principal Renisha Beaudion.

She is excited about their sixth grade focus.

"We're going to be able to form them and create them into what we need them to be for middle school, and going on to high school," Beaudion said.

When the plan was announced in February parents had questions.

"I was nervous," said parent Donnika Minor. "I didn't know how they were going to change all these students and teachers around."

Minor said the meet and greet calmed those nerves.

"We've been at North Bayou for a long time, so it was nice to meet her and we are comfortable," Minor said.

But, another parent still had concerns.

"Are they going to give me a bus," said parent Ashley Corcoran-West. "Because I have two kids and I thought they could walk two blocks down the street, and now it is all over the place. I had no idea they were doing it though. I don't really understand it much, but we will see."

School board member Sandra Franklin said the district will notify parents about bus arrangements prior to the new school year.

"There plan is going to be coming forward," Franklin said. We have a new director coming on board June 4th. No doubt that person will come and assist and prepare for us as we go forward."

Superintendent Authement said they are making sure parents are heard.

"We are being responsive and receptive to their concerns, and the issues that they have with regard to this new plan that we are putting in place," Authement said. "So, that is the primary purpose to today's meeting."

Although turn out was light, the district encourages parents to get in touch with their new schools faculty.

"We gave the parents the opportunity to come out and meet their schools and if they did not get the chance to we encourage them still to reach out," said Executive Assistant Superintendent Kim Bennett.

The event was held at Bolton High School to give zone two students a taste of what's to come.

"This is truly a community project that we are working toward so that the students can understand this is where I am going to end up in high school, this is where I'll graduate from," said D.F. Huddle Principal Tonya Normand.

And Utts is ready to start getting her new students thinking about that end goal.

"Although it's a difficult transition, it will be best for the kids and best for the teachers as well," Utts said.

A meet and greet for zone three schools will be held at Peabody Magnet High School Tuesday from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

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