Modular buildings needed at Northside | Enrollment expected to double

Published 12:51 am Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Northside Tech’s enrollment for 2012-13 is expected to double its previous enrollment, forcing Bogalusa City Schools officials to haul in four modular buildings, Superintendent Louise Smith said Monday.

Smith said the enrollment is expected to swell to nearly 400 students, double the 200 of last year. Because of the dramatic increase at Northside and resulting decrease at Bogalusa Middle School, officials are also being forced to shift personnel to meet the needs.

Smith said cafeteria workers and other personnel will be shifted from the middle school to Northside Tech, along with additional teachers.

The increase, Smith said, is being buoyed by the school board’s decision to open up enrollment to all middle school students. Previously, students could only gain entrance to Northside by putting their names in a lottery.

But earlier this year board members voted to admit any student who wish to enroll in the project-based learning school. Although a May deadline was originally set, the district was forced to open up enrollment a second time when it recently received word from the Louisiana Department of Education that the middle school was likely to be deemed an Academically Unacceptable School for the upcoming year, Smith said.

Students attending an AUS school, she added, must be given an alternative to attend another school in or out of the district, thus creating the latest spike at Northside.

Smith said the district will not know for certain the status of the middle school until July 23 but a decision was made to open up enrollment so appropriate planning and preparation could be completed in a timely fashion. The first day of class for high school, junior high and elementary school students is Aug. 7.

Smith said she was not certain as to how many students enrolled after parents received a letter from Smith informing them of the middle school’s possible AUS status.

“Parents see (Northside) as a different learning system,” she said. “A lot of students like the different learning style.”

Smith said four doublewide modular buildings will be placed on the campus to accommodate the influx of students. She said each building houses four classrooms with capacity of up to 25 students per classroom.

She did not know where those buildings would be placed but added a maintenance foreman has surveyed the property and determined the locations.

The increase surprised Smith, the superintendent admitted.

“We really did not anticipate it,” she said. “We thought we might have 300 (as the total enrollment). But (the department of education) said about 6 percent of the population (transfers) from an AUS school.”

The middle school will drop to an enrollment of about 250, she said.

Although Northside Tech and the middle school will each move to the campus of Bogalusa High School beginning with the 2013-14 school year, Smith said the modular buildings may be moved to another campus as the school district embarks on its consolidation plan. Earlier this year, board members voted to consolidate the schools by the 2013-14 year, with the closing of at least one, or perhaps two elementary schools.

The board has not determined which schools will be shuttered.

In another matter, Smith said the search continues to hire a replacement for Bogalusa High School principal Bryan Stewart, who recently resigned. Smith said she has “five to six applicants,” including current high school assiatant principal Lesley McKinley.

“We will begin interviewing soon,” she said.