First North Bossier Luncheon informs community of changes to schools

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Bossier Schools Superintendent Mitch Downey speaks at the first North Bossier Luncheon while School Board Member and North Bossier Luncheon Organizer Adam Bass looks on. (Stacey Tinsley/Press-Tribune)

Bossier Parish Superintendent Mitch Downey gave an update about Bossier Schools’ efforts to increase teacher pay and forthcoming change to attendance zones at Tuesday’s first North Bossier Luncheon.

Downey said he and the Bossier Parish School Board are continuing to look for sustainable funds to try to increase employees wages.

“This is something that is difficult and complex and is a task we have taken on since last May,” Downey said. “We want to roll an idea out this summer, but we want to make sure that we are thought out and cautious about how we do that. There’s also a conversation with Gov. (John Bel) Edwards about increasing pay, similar to what he did last spring.”

Downey also gave an update about how many students would be effected by the new student attendance zone plan.

“There are 23,000 students are in Bossier Parish Schools. When we originally started looking at this, we were thinking three to four hundred students were going to be impacted. Now we seeing that 1,100 – 1,200 students will be impacted by the attendance zone change,” said Downey.

Last August the Bossier Parish School Board approved a new student attendance zone plan for the 2020-2021 school year. 

He said the district has plans on how to communicate to parents about the new attendance zones from the U.S. Department of Justice. 

Essentially, lines will change so that ]Airline will gain students from Bossier, Benton will gain some students from Airline, and Bossier will gain some students that originally fed into Airline.

“We all know that people don’t like change. So, we have to communicate effectively to alleviate any fear,” Downey said.

The district is trying to achieve unitary status to be released from desegregation legislation dating back to the 1960s. In the last 10 years, the School Board has requested and obtained permission from the court to amend its student attendance zones primarily because of the need for new construction in the parish.

Looking towards improvements in Bossier Parish Schools, Downey pointed out there are construction projects that will take place with the last of the $25 Million bond money from 2012 — a 2-story, 30 classroom wing with administration complex at Haughton High School, additional classrooms and a band room at Cope Middle School, and classroom wing at Benton Middle School.

Downey also noted that there could be some changes coming to Parkway High School.

“Parkway is being evaluated as we look at future needs. That footprint for that campus is only 40 acres, it’s a very small high school footprint,” Downey said. “There may be an opportunity to try to expand that campus and provide additional classrooms.”