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Pine Grove Elementary is one of two schools the Morehouse Parish district has decided to close.

Louisiana district closes 2 schools to avert budget shortfall

The Morehouse Parish board votes to close 2 elementary campuses and reconfigure grade levels at other schools to head off a $1.6 million shortfall in February.

The Morehouse Parish (La.) School Board has voted to close two school buildings and reduce its workforce to avoid a $1.6 million shortfall in February.

The Monroe News-Star reports that the board voted 4-3 to adopt the changes, which will:

•Close Pine Grove Elementary in Bastrop and move students to what is now Delta Junior High, making that school a K-6;
•Close H.V. Adams Elementary in Bastrop and move students to what is now the Morehouse Junior High building, making that school a K-6;
•Place grades 7 to 12 at Bastrop High School.

District Business Manager Ersula Downs says the the reduction in force resulting from the changes could be as low as 40 to 45 employees instead of the more than 50 included in earlier projections. 

Most of the saved costs, Downs says, come from eliminating salaries. Closing the buildings also will reduce costs for utilities, insurance and maintenance.

Board member Chastity Kennedy-Lee accused the board of trying to bankrupt the district to benefit Beekman Charter School and made allegations about political deals affecting the decision. She said the state should take over the district.

Following executive session, the board voted to defend itself in a federal lawsuit filed by a Bastrop seeking to prevent the board from closing schools.

Charles H. Bradford initially asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order to prevent the board from voting to close schools.

Bradford, who is representing himself, argued that the proposed change would put undue travel strain on students, overload classrooms and increase segregation based on race. He said the board “failed to accept the plan submitted by parents, ministers, and community about concerns that they have about their children.”

U.S. District Judge Terry A. Doughty denied a request for a temporary restraining order and noted that the arguments as presented do not show that Bradford has a basis to continue with the suit, such as having a child in the school system

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