LUTCHER — The St. James Parish School Board unanimously voted to close Romeville Elementary School and send its 88 students to Paulina Elementary School in August.
The School Board, in another unanimous vote during its Tuesday meeting, declared Romeville Elementary School as excess property and agreed to put the building up for sale.
The decision to close the school was difficult, but encroaching industrial growth and a decreasing neighborhood population forced the School Board to examine the economic feasibility of keeping the school open, officials said.
The School Board has held 11 community meetings during a three-year span on the subject, and Superintendent Alonzo Luce said he was proud of the school’s faculty and staff for handling years of uncertainty.
“This was not an easy decision and the board went through this process and took all the time it took to do it in a manner that worked well with the community,” Luce said.
Romeville Elementary, near Convent in the rural community of Romeville, has 88 students enrolled in first through sixth grades.
Paulina Elementary School, about 12 miles away in Paulina, has 563 students enrolled in prekindergarten through sixth-grade classes, Luce said.
The school district will retain ownership of Romeville Elementary’s gymnasium, which has a separate entrance from the school.
The gym will continue as a community facility after the school building is sold, Luce said.
If Romeville residents decide they no longer need the gym as a community center, the new property owner could buy the gym from the school district, he said.
Luce said the school property has been appraised at just under $3 million.
Most of Romeville Elementary’s teachers, personnel and staff will be transferred to Paulina Elementary School or other schools in the parish, officials said.
Romeville Elementary Principal Becky Louque will serve in a new position as principal of the parish’s still-evolving virtual school.
The parish’s virtual school will serve students in kindergarten through 12th grades and allow them to participate in parish school activities while taking classes online, Luce said.
The virtual school will compete with the state-run Louisiana Connections Academy, Luce said.
Romeville Elementary students leave the campus for the last time May 24.