Benton school board rep. talks growth in district

2163
Courtesy Photo
Amanda Simmons
amanda@bossierpress.com

Bossier Parish School Board Dist. 3 representative Frank Kelly is making sure the school system is keeping up with his district’s steady growth.

“We’ve had a study by our demographer that shows of all the growth in Bossier Parish, 62 percent of it is in the Benton High attendance zone,” Kelly said. “The previous board had the wisdom to use the demographer’s report and make plans based on what was projected.”

Kelly joined the board after the 2012 construction bond passed. His district received a new elementary school and will be getting a new high school in the coming years.

In fact, one of the first things he did as a board member was attend the groundbreaking for Kingston Elementary.

The challenge with that, Kelly said, is keeping up with the growth.

“When you build a new school, more people want to move there,” he said. “As these schools are filling up, they are moving them through the middle school and high school.”

Kelly

Kelly said he’s particularly excited about the new Benton High School, which is projected to open for the 2019-2020 school year.

“It sounds like a lifetime away, but we’re in 2017. It’s coming at us pretty fast,” he added.  “The entire community is excited about this.”

Moving forward, Kelly said he looks forward to the growth in his district and seeing the changes it brings. He is eager to address needs throughout the parish.

“I would like to see us get to a place where we have a rolling bond fund that addresses the needs in our district,” Kelly said.

“We had a $210 million bond fund, most of which went to new construction because it was needed to address growth.  It wouldn’t be a bad thing to have a bond fund to address maintenance and upkeep at our schools.”

Kelly says he wants to be the voice that best reflects his constituents — mostly Christians and mostly conservative. One thing he’s worked for since becoming a board member is more transparency.

“We used to hold our meetings at the Central Office and that really bothered me. Not everyone could fit in the room and we would have people standing in the hallways. That kind of became an accepted thing,” Kelly said. “I was the one who made the suggestion that we move our meetings to the [Bossier Instructional Center] to be more accessible as a board.”

Kelly also made the suggestion for board meetings to be streamed live online, which they are now doing. He would also like to see the board have verbatim transcripts of their meetings.

“Keeping up with technology…there are a lot of places that are webcasting their meetings. It was time for us to do that and it cost us next to nothing to do it,” Kelly explained.

More than buildings and maintenance, Kelly wants to continue shining a light on academic successes.

“I want us to focus on individual student performance and challenging each student to the best of his or her ability so we get the best out of them,” he explained. “I think we have a great school system. The board is part of a great team and thankfully we have a great administration and leadership to guide us.”