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St. Martin School Board OKs study of BB reconfiguration

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School board members last week authorized its central staff to move forward with a feasibility study of the possible reconfiguration of the four Breaux Bridge schools.

Superintendent Dr. Lottie Beebe says one of the options to be considered is the moving of grades 4 and 5 from Breaux Bridge Elementary to Breaux Bridge Primary and BBE’s grade 6 to Breaux Bridge Jr. High.

Such a move, if eventually approved, would shutter the BBE campus. BB Primary would expand from its current pre-K to grade 3 configuration while BB Jr. High would include grades 6 through 8, making it more of a middle school.

The junior high schools in St. Martinville and Cecilia are already grade 6-8 schools while Parks Middle School also includes those grades 5-8.

One of the concerns with the current configuration of schools serving the Breaux Bridge community is a marked imbalance in the average number of students per grade level (not including pre-K classes).

This year BB Primary reports an average of 166 students per grade, while the count plummets to 126 at BB Elementary and 117 at BB Jr. High.

The trend is reversed at Breaux Bridge High, which reports an average of 210 students per grade, the highest of the three parish high schools.

A report prepared by the central staff points out that the Breaux Bridge schools “has a distinctive imbalance in the number of students from campus to campus.”

The schools in the Cecilia and St. Martinville districts are more closely balanced.

In Cecilia the average number of students per grade (201) varies by no more than 12 students from school to school, from a high of 213 at Cecilia Primary to a low of 191 at Cecilia High.

The trend in St. Martinville schools is similar to the Breaux Bridge area, although not as pronounced.

The average number of students per grade across the St. Martinville district is 153, and the average at the Early Learning Center is 151, at SM Primary 142 and at SM Jr. High 130. The average at SM Sr. High jumps to 189.

Dr. Beebe told board members that “we’ve been losing students at Breaux Bridge Elementary and Breaux Bridge Jr. High and we can’t sit idly and let this trend continue. We’ve got to be more visionary.”

If any changes are approved, they would likely not take effect until the 2015-16 session.

FOUR YEARS AGO

The reconfiguration issue was last discussed four years ago when District 9 board member Floyd Knott, who currently serves as board president, broached the subject.

At the time he suggested making BB Elementary a pre-K to grade 1 school; changing BB Primary from grades pre-K to 3 to grades 2-3-4-5, and moving 6th graders to BB Jr. High.

But his proposal was quickly shot down by Breaux Bridge area board members Jimmy Blanchard, Rodney Ledoux and Richard Potier.

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