East Feliciana schools will resume 5-day week

The East Feliciana Parish public school district’s students will again attend classes five days a week beginning in the 2013-14 school year.

The School Board Tuesday voted 10-2 in favor of dropping the district’s four-day week and returning to a five-day week for all students, staff and teachers.

Board members Olivia Harris, Beth Dawson, Melvin Hollins, Mitchell Harrell, Michael Bradford, Debra Spurlock-Haynes, Broderick Brooks Sr., Rhonda Matthews, Richard Terrell and Rufus Nesbitt voted in favor of a five-day week.

Paul Kent and Ben Cupit voted against the measure.

Cupit suggested waiting until the 2014-15 school year to switch back to a five-day week. “I can’t vote for this until I see where the money will come from,” he said.

Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. estimated that adding the extra day would cost the district $150,000 a year in utilities and busing. Salaries were not changed five years ago when the district switched from a five- to a four-day work week, so staff pay would not be affected, he said.

Lewis said he hoped the change will improve student test scores and aid the transition to the new common core standards required by the state. With teacher retirements and other cuts, the district can find money in the budget for the change, he said.

Other items before the School Board included:

SCHOOL SWAP: The board voted 4-8 against swapping the locations of East Feliciana High School and East Feliciana Middle School.

The consolidated high school shares the Jackson School Complex with Jackson Elementary School students and the consolidated middle school is in the old Clinton High School facility.

Harris, Bradford, Brooks and Terrell voted for the moves.

Cupit, Kent, Spurlock-Haynes, Dawson, Hollins, Harrell, Matthews and Nesbitt cast the dissenting votes.

At their April 29 meeting, board members approved the moves in a 6-5 vote. However, the proposal to swap the locations of the schools was not officially on the board’s April 29 agenda.

During that meeting, Harris, Kent, Bradford, Spurlock-Haynes, Brooks and Terrell voted to move the high school to Clinton and the middle school to Jackson.

Dawson, Hollins, Cupit, Harrell and Nesbitt voted against the moves.

Matthews was absent from the April meeting.

ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS: The board discussed changing the elementary schools in the district from pre-K through fifth grade to pre-K through sixth grade and putting students in grades seven though 12 together on the East Feliciana Middle School campus in Clinton.

Lewis said the middle school building would not be big enough to hold both the middle and high school students. The district would have to purchase temporary buildings to put on the site, he said.