Public comments on consideration to close Colfax Elementary

Published: Mar. 30, 2021 at 10:32 PM CDT
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COLFAX, La. (KALB) - The gym at Colfax Elementary School was packed as residents showed up to a public meeting to discuss the future of the school on Tuesday, March 30.

Members of the Grant Parish School Board opened the meeting with a presentation on the current status of the school when it comes to physical and academic conditions. The school has received significant damage from Hurricanes Laura and Delta, along with the recent winter storms.

Hurricane Laura/Delta:

  • Roof off of K-3rd grade buildings (three wings)
  • Damaged classroom walls, flooring, ceiling, materials/supplies, furniture and technology
  • Classes moved to 4th-6th grade wing, portables and library

Ice Storm Viola/Uri:

  • Damage to all classrooms in 4th-6th grade building, which was housing 1st-6th grade
  • Walls, flooring and ceilings removed
  • K-4th relocated to available spaces (lunchroom, gym, nurses office, library)
  • 5th-6th classes moved temporarily to Civic Center, then relocated to Grant Junior High

A decline in enrollment is also a concern with only 189 students enrolled. There are also concerns with a steady decline in the school performance with the school at an “F” standard. Teacher certification and retention rates are also seeing a decline.

Below is the current proposal for the school:

  • Rezone Colfax Elementary students to Verda, South Grant and Pollock Elementary
  • Transportation provided to schools based on residency
  • 6th-grade students transition to the junior high school setting
  • Reasoning: Utilize building capacities, fiscal responsibility, expanded opportunities, experienced staff and academic growth
  • Convert Colfax Elementary to a virtual, alternate education site or similar

The floor was opened for comments after the presentation, with just over a handful of people choosing to address the board. People concerned about the future of the school all seemed to agree that building a new facility would be the best thing for the school and community. The amount for building a new school would be nearly 10 million dollars. But residents say that the dollar amount shouldn’t be the main concern because funding can be obtained. The focus should be on how closing the school will affect students and the community overall.

“Build a new facility…the students will return, teachers will want to teach here and then we have to fix the academic side of it. But first, we have to start with the facility and the environment because that’s so important for our children,” said Cephas Bowie, District 3 Colfax Police Juror.

District 29 Senator Jay Luneau spoke at the meeting assuring the school board that funding can be obtained to build a new facility.

“We’re going to have to be creative in how we do that and we’re going to have to search out avenues for revenue for it. I’m hopeful that they will give that some serious consideration and look at rebuilding this school,” said Luneau.

The Grant Parish School Board says it will decide on what’s next for Colfax Elementary at a meeting on April 15.

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