WASHINGTON, La. (KLFY) – On Thursday, April 1, the St. Landry Parish School Board surprised the community of Washington when they decided the fate of their only school.
No parents were in the crowd since the SLPSB added the agenda item last minute, so News 10 went to Washington to find out what the citizens think.
“It takes a village to raise a child, so how are you going to have a village with no school?”, asked Michelle Despanie.
Despanie’s children went to Washington Elementary, and she questions if the school board had the best intentions in mind when suggesting their only school should close.
One of the board’s primary concerns was the cost of running a Kindergarten through sixth grade school with only 15 students per class.
Milton Ambres, St. Landry Parish School Board District 3 argued, “A hundred kids in a school is not enough to keep a school open.”
Despanie doesn’t agree stating smaller schools allow teachers to better reach each child.
“Don’t just leave it up to a money thing. You got to think of the kids, and the community, and their education. It’s their education. They need their education just like anybody else,” she said.
Not every parent in Washington agrees the elementary school should stay open. Some have chosen to drive their kids to better-performing schools like Port Barre Elementary or Grand Prairie Elementary instead.
To that Despanie answered, “Not everybody has that option like certain people to go to a ‘B’ school or an ‘A’ school or anything like that. We have to go to a school that’s available to us. Particularly African American kids. We have to go where it’s available to us, and that’s how my kids were.”
Mayor Dwight Landreneau remembers when Washington and Dunbar High Schools were taken away decades ago.
“It’s like taking part of the fabric away taking the heart out of the community,” Landreneau lamented.
He said the key to keeping the elementary school is improving the educational offering, not taking it away.
“If you can prove to the community, to the area that you have a heck an education program at Washington Elementary, people will be attracted to come to school want to come to school,” he concluded.
Even though the St. Landry Parish School Board decided not to close Washington Elementary last week, the decision could come up again, and the people of Washington are hopeful next time they will be able to get a word in before the decision is made.