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JP Schools Superintendent Presents 2020 Infrastructure and Efficiency Plan

Jefferson Parish Schools Superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley presented the school board with a plan that expands opportunities for kids, maintains educator jobs, makes more efficient use of resources, and stabilizes the district’s financial future. The plan will put more students into higher performing schools, expand school choice for families, reduce annual spending by $16 million, and allow the district to be more efficient with its aging facilities. 

Dr. Brumley shared the 2020 Infrastructure and Efficiency Plan during the Jefferson Parish School Board’s February meeting at Bonnabel High. The board requested this plan to keep the district on a strong financial foundation, increase options for families, and improve academic outcomes for students. JP Schools improved on its state report card this year for the first time in four years. The board will vote on the plan March 4 at the conclusion of a public forum. If approved, the plan would go into effect for the 2020-21 school year. 

The plan calls for: 

  • consolidating four schools
  • creating five new K-8 schools
  • expanding student mental health services
  • increasing early childhood seats
  • increasing Advanced Study Academy seats
  • enhancing school choice options for families
  • improving school transportation efficiencies
  • selling surplus properties
  • renovating over a dozen campuses 
  • building 13 playgrounds
  • upgrading technology for teachers

The consolidations and attendance zone changes impact around 4% of the district’s nearly 51,000 students. 

“This proposal is a thoughtful, student-centered approach to real life challenges faced in a public school system,” said Dr. Brumley. “It sets more students up for success while ensuring we live within the means of our budget. ”

The following schools will be impacted most significantly:

  • Douglass Elementary will be absorbed into Johnson Gretna Park Elementary and McDonogh 26 Elementary
  • Jefferson Elementary will be consolidated with Riverdale Middle at the Riverdale Middle campus, converted into a K-8 school, and named Jefferson Elementary
  • Thibodeaux Elementary will be moved to the Pitre Elementary campus, which will be named Thibodeaux Elementary
  • Washington Elementary will be absorbed into Bunche Elementary
  • Westbank Community School will move to the Douglass facility and be renamed Frederick Douglass Community School

This plan calls for the creation of five new K-8 schools:

  • Dolhonde Elementary (current K-5)
  • Harahan Elementary (current K-5)
  • Hazel Park Elementary (current K-5)
  • Jefferson Elementary (current K-5) at the Riverdale Middle (6-8) campus
  • Woodland West Elementary (current K-5)

The addition of five new K-8 schools will give the district 24 schools that serve students in grades kindergarten through 8th. Last year, the board voted to add nine new K-8s for this current school year. The district is adding K-8s to improve academic performance, attendance, and retention. District data shows that K-8 students in grades 6-8 outperform their peers in traditional middle schools and have higher average attendance rates. The district also kept more of its students between their 5th and 6th grade years.

“I don’t take actions like these lightly,” said Dr. Brumley. “To live up to our mission, we need all our kids attending great schools and we need the resources to power our ambitious strategic plan.”

The district is mailing letters home to all families who would be impacted by the attendance zone changes. Families can view the proposed changes at jpschools.org/2020plan. Proposed attendance maps can also be viewed at the schools impacted by the changes, the JP Schools Administration Building at 501 Manhattan Blvd. in Harvey, or the Paul Emenes Building at 822 S. Clearview Pkwy. in Harahan. 

Certificated employees with a satisfactory evaluation working at a closing or consolidated school will maintain their employment, salary, and benefits. Just like last year’s school consolidations and K-8 expansion, the JP Schools Human Resources team will visit schools to meet face-to-face with employees impacted by these changes and get their input on where they would like to work next school year.

Jefferson Parish Schools entered this school year with an approximate $16 million budget gap. This information was shared with the Jefferson Parish School Board during a budget hearing in June. The gap is not due to excessive or increased spending by the district. It is also unrelated and has no impact on the funds generated from the educator pay raise millage. The deficit was caused by the opening of new public charter and traditional schools in JP Schools over the past decade. Other factors in the budget gap are increased transportation and technology costs, as well as facilities upkeep on a system where the average school building is 55 years old. 

In an effort to limit impact in the classroom, expenditures will also be reduced across the district, concentrated on central office. This includes:

  • reducing around 21 central office positions
  • reducing central office budgets
  • streamlining departments and programs

This will be the third consecutive year that Dr. Brumley has reduced central office positions to provide additional funds for schools. 

During their October 2019 meeting, the Jefferson Parish School Board approved a second reading that asked district leaders to develop a “2020 Infrastructure and Efficiency Plan” and present it to the board. That second reading is listed below.

September 2019 First Reading (Approved October 2019 on Second Reading)

Move that the Administration provide this Board with the following information and recommendations on the timeline established: By the December Regular Board Meeting, the Administration will report to the Board on the following: The student capacity of each school. The current student membership of each school. Occupancy as a percentage of capacity for each school. A listing of land owned by the Board that does not occupy a school. A listing of elementary and k-8 school sites without playgrounds for recess. A recommendation on whether the District should expand opportunities for Career and Technical Education (CTE) at current sites or provide a stand-alone CTE high school as called for in the Facilities Master Plan. By the March 2020 Regular Board Meeting, the Administration will report to the Board on a “2020 Infrastructure and Efficiency Plan”, informed by the following considerations: School consolidations to optimize occupancy and reduce operational costs. Expansion of the PK-8 model Increase Early Childhood Education (ECE) seats where demand exceeds space. Expanded opportunities for the aforementioned Career and Technical Education (CTE) offerings. Accommodation of school choice for parents and encouragement of healthy competition for students. Greater efficiency in transportation costs, eliminating light loads and dead mileage as much as possible. Addresses the increasing demand for seats in our Academies. Any pervasive, urgent issues at any of our campuses.