Breaux Bridge shifts third grade, sixth grade to new schools

About $7 million in work will get underway in the next year to prepare the campuses of Breaux Bridge Primary and Breaux Bridge Junior High for the addition of new grade levels as part of St. Martin Parish’s plan to balance enrollment in schools.

The school district previously shifted grade levels on campuses in Cecilia and St. Martinville. The Breaux Bridge grade reconfiguration will take effect in the 2015-16 school year, Superintendent Lottie Beebe said.

Breaux Bridge Primary enrolls about 700 students in preschool through third grade.

That enrollment drops to less than 400 at Breaux Bridge Elementary for fourth through sixth grades. Junior high enrollment — now grades seven and eight — is about 240.

The reconfiguration plan alters grade levels for the primary school to preschool through second grade, elementary to third through fifth grades and the junior high to sixth through eighth grades.

Some of the projects involve renovations and the construction of additional classrooms and cafeteria space.

The $7.3 million cost associated with the renovations and expansion is funded by a $40 million bond issue approved last year by voters to upgrade school facilities.

The reconfiguration plan was prompted by the district’s development of a master plan and the analysis of enrollment, Beebe said.

“In Breaux Bridge, at the primary level, we saw that there was a large enrollment, then it dropped off as students moved to Breaux Bridge Elementary and junior high, then enrollment picked up at the high school,” she said.

Beebe said the district hasn’t studied where parents are opting to send their children instead of the elementary or junior high schools, but cited home-schooling or parochial and private schools as potential options.

Breaux Bridge has a few private schools, including Breaux Bridge Christian Academy, which has preschool through 12th grade, and St. Bernard’s School, a preschool through eighth grade Catholic school.

The School Board approved a recommendation to combine the elementary and primary campuses on one site and move the sixth grade, previously at the elementary school, to the junior high.

“We’re thinking outside the box in an attempt to increase our enrollment at the elementary and junior high sites,” Beebe said.

As part of the reconfiguration, the Breaux Bridge Elementary campus at 702 W. Bridge Street will close and additions will be made to the Breaux Bridge Primary campus at 1020 E. Bridge Street to accommodate the elementary campus.

Beebe said the primary campus is large enough to define separate campuses on the property.

“We’re building eight new classrooms at the primary campus and a new multipurpose cafeteria addition,” Beebe said.

Beebe said no decisions have been made yet for future uses of the Breaux Bridge Elementary site once students are relocated in 2015.

“We’re looking at opportunities,” she said. “We’ll maintain the facility for other needs.”