AMITE — Members of a site selection committee tasked with finding a site for a new school between Amite and Loranger, and west of Interstate 55 near Hammond, are looking at the possibility of building the school across from Amite Elementary School.
Three new elementary schools will be built: one each in the Hammond/Natalbany area, between Amite and Loranger, and west of Interstate 55 near Hammond and Ponchatoula as a provision of a compromise reached in the Tangipahoa Parish School Board’s 46-year-old desegregation lawsuit.
“I don’t understand building a brand-new school across from an existing school,” said Candance Wallace, a third-grade teacher at Amite Elementary School and member of the site selection committee.
School Board member Ann Scott agreed.
“I have a problem with two schools with the same grade levels, but as far as the cost, I think it’s great,” Smith said.
If the new school were built across from Amite Elementary, both the new school and Amite Elementary would serve children in kindergarten through sixth grades.
But some committee members agreed during the panel’s meeting Thursday night that it may be cheaper to build the school near Amite Elementary, where services such as water, sewer and police protection are already in place.
“It’s just a thought,” said board member Andy Anderson. “That would be left up to the School Board to go to court and ask to move it two blocks.”
In order to build the school on the site across from Amite Elementary School, board officials would have to ask U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle, who oversees the school district’s desegregation case, for permission to build the school outside of the geographical boundaries defined by the court.
Mary Adams, an administrative assistant at Loranger Elementary School, said she believes the committee had gotten off track in its efforts to select a feasible location.
“I think the job we set out to do has kind of gotten a little blurred,” Adams said. “I think the desegregation issue is a very sensitive issue for the whole parish. People are beginning to calm down. In our community, when you talk about busing students to the city, the community won’t be quiet.”
Adams suggested looking into a site on La. 16 near Graham Road that would be more centrally located for students in Amite, Loranger and the Kentwood area.
Committee members also were considering a site on the north side of La. 16 across from Doe Run subdivision.
Another site is located on the north side of Airport Road, approximately a quarter-mile from the intersection of La. 16, and the third site is located on the south side of La. 1061 (Chicken Farm Road) about 180 feet from the intersection with Buniff Lane.
The site selection committee will meet again to discuss the matter at 5 p.m. July 26 at the Tangipahoa Parish School Board office.
Copyright © 2011, Capital City Press LLC • 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810 • All Rights Reserved