Jefferson High Gretna 64272e3e9f275

Consultant recommends closing 8 schools in Jefferson Parish (La.) district

March 31, 2023
District officials have been coping with a continued drop in student enrollment.

Eight Jefferson Parish (La.) district school campuses would close under a plan recommended by a consultant hired by the district. reports that the Jefferson Parish School Board is scheduled to vote April 5 on the recommendations. If adopted, the shakeup would affect thousands of students in Louisiana's largest school system. The changes wouldn't take place until next school year at the earliest.

Under the proposal, these campuses would close:

  • Butler Elementary in Westwego;
  • George Cox Elementary in Gretna;
  • Haynes Academy for Advanced Studies in Metairie;
  • Helen Cox High School in Harvey;
  • Mildred Harris Elementary in Westwego;
  • Thomas Jefferson High in Gretna;
  • Washington Elementary in Kenner;
  • Woods Elementary in Kenner.

The potential overhaul comes as Jefferson Parish district officials grapple with a continued drop in student enrollment. The district has around 47,000 students, down from more than 50,000 in 2019, and well below a peak of 70,000 in the 1970s.

The closing proposal, produced by Meyer Engineers and MTG Consulting, was undertaken in an effort to reduce operational costs, improve transportation efficiencies and provide equity among campuses. Among the recommendations:

  • Haynes Academy for Advanced Studies would be relocated to the Grace King campus, also in Metairie.
  • Grace King students would be re-assigned to attend Bonnabel and Riverdale high schools.
  • Helen Cox students would be sent to Higgins, Ehret, and West Jefferson high schools.
  • Butler Elementary students would be sent to Isaac Joseph Elementary, Truman School, and Collins Elementary.
  • Mildred Harris Elementary students would be sent to Gilbert School of Excellence at Ford and Cherbonnier-Rillieux Elementary.
  • Woods Elementary students would be sent to Benson and Bissonet schools. Students at Bissonet would feed into Bonnabel High.
  • Janet Elementary would expand from PK-5 to PK-8.
  • Gretna Middle School would be repurposed into a high school campus for students from Thomas Jefferson. Gretna students would be sent to Livaudais and Marrero schools.
  • A new K-8 school would be built where St. Ville Elementary’s campus is. When construction is complete, George Cox Elementary would close, and its students would go to St. Ville and Gretna Park.
  • Washington Elementary students would be combined with students at Bunche Elementary. A new preK-8 school would be built on what is now the Bunche campus.

In response to demographic changes, the Jefferson Parish district has moved aggressively in recent years to consolidate some schools and combine elementary and middle schools into preK-8 campuses. A 2018 report showed that the district was doing a poor job of using the space it had. At one school, only 19% of the building was in use, while another school operated at 121% of capacity.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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