Zachary to place expelled students in private academy

The Zachary Community School Board decided Thursday to contract with a private academy to provide an alternative program for middle- and high-school students who are expelled from their regular schools.

The district’s alternative school has been at the Port Hudson Career Academy,
the old Port Hudson Elementary School on Flanacher Road, but the board plans to expand Port Hudson’s operations to include intensive vocational training for high school students.

The board is expected to make funding decisions on the vocational-technical offerings in the near future.

Superintendent Scott Devillier said the board had two choices, putting the alternative school in two temporary buildings at the high school or contracting with Trinity Christian Academy, of Zachary.

The board contracted with Trinity before it renovated and opened the Port Hudson center.

Devillier estimated the cost of operating the program at the high school would be about $237,400 the first year, including an estimated $30,000 in set-up costs for the temporary buildings, which are at another school.

Trinity will provide the services for up to 40 students
for $120,000, but the board would have to pay for software licenses and a special-education teacher for a total cost
of about $185,400, Devillier said.

Devillier said three students will be in the alternative school when classes start in August, but the enrollment fluctuates between about 25 and 35 during the year.

The superintendent said owner Veronica Watson “has done a tremendous job for us.”

“She runs a very good program,” Devillier said.

Other topics included:

CONSTRUCTION DELAY: Board members went behind closed doors to discuss imposing liquidated damages against Guy Hopkins Construction Inc. for finishing the high school’s performing arts theater behind schedule.

EMPLOYEES HONORED: The board recognized its top support personnel for this year.

They are: Cindy Todd, a School Board office secretary; Earleen Stevenson, an employee in the Student Assessment and Support Services Office; Willie Parker, a general maintenance worker; and Leena Doiron, a bus aide.