Haughton’s school board rep has seen change in the form of major growth for her district, meaning new opportunities and new challenges.
“Haughton is the second largest growth area in the parish, right behind Benton. We’re already a 5A school and we’re still growing,” said Billie Jo Brotherton, Bossier Parish School Board District 1 representative. “People continue to move out this way and they are clearing land for a 400 home subdivision right now. It’s not going to stop growing.”
The 2012 construction bond is addressing some of their growth needs. The new Haughton Middle School is nearing completion. Crews are also working seven days a week to finish the project. A move-in schedule has been agreed on, starting with the Media Center in May, followed by classrooms. New and existing furniture will be moved in over the summer.
Future projects include converting the existing middle school campus into a K-5 elementary school and a new 24 room classroom wing at Haughton High School as well as renovations to the gymnasium, cafeteria and administration area.
Brotherton said upgrades to the high school are long overdue.
“There are a lot of things that need to be addressed at Haughton High School,” she said. “The H building was built in the 1940s and we’re still using it. The girls gym was built in the 1930s and we’re still using it. The auditorium is so old we can’t even find seats for it. The E wing was built in the 1930s or 1940s. We have a lot of problems when it rains with the drainage and buildings leaking.”
It all comes down to the money, though.
“$210 million sounds like so much money and it is, but when you start building new schools it doesn’t go very far,” Brotherton said. “Right now, Haughton has been put on hold along with several of the other projects until the new Benton High School is built. So we’re looking at least three years down the road before anything gets done. That worries me.”
When she first joined the board three years ago, Brotherton asked why the previous board didn’t consider building a new high school. She still doesn’t have the answer to that.
“The people in my district have been very supportive of the bonds,” she said. “They are very frustrated and I know that. They want to see something done at Haughton High School.”
Brotherton continued, “When families move here, they shop for schools. You drive around and see new schools at Parkway, Airline and Benton. Haughton needs to be brought up to higher standards in order to compete.”
As a retired educator of 33 years, Brotherton brings something special to the Board.
“I know what the teachers are thinking and the reasons for their concerns. To me, it’s important that they have a voice,” Brotherton said.
She decided to run for the District 1 seat as a way to give back to her community. Not only did she work for the Bossier School System, but she grew up in her district, attending the same schools she now represents.
“Bossier Parish has been so good to me and my family,” she said. “I went to Haughton schools all 12 years. My husband went to school here. Our kids went to school here. I just love it here. I love Bossier Parish.I feel very blessed to represent my district. I feel like being from here, I know the people and their wants and needs.”
As a district, Brotherton said Bossier Parish is among the top school systems in the state.
“Bossier Parish is, I think, the best. It’s a wonderful place to live,” she said. “The first thing people look at when they come into the area are the schools. Our parents support us. We have businesses growing. We should always strive for excellence and never settle for how good we are now. It’s our job as the school board to better our parish and to be the best we can be.”
She continued, “We have so much going for us in Bossier Parish. I look forward to the things that are still to come in our future.”
Brotherton is one of two representatives for the Haughton area. She serves on the board alongside Brad Bockhaus from Dist. 2.
Calls to Bockhaus were not returned by press time.