Letters to the Editor:
There is no easy or difficult; only status quo and change. For far too long, the status quo for Caddo schools has been a managed decline of an aging and bloated footprint. Despite periodic and painful decommissioning of campuses, most recently EB Williams Stoner Hill Elementary, we’re still oversized by approximately 30%. We can accommodate 42,000 students but only have about 32,000 enrolled. We’re bleeding out approximately 1,000 per year. As a result of parish-wide outmigration and “donut holing” of the core, there are dozens of aging and emptying schools. These schools, despite best efforts, are more expensive to maintain, frequently less safe, and much less cost-efficient per student.
This places us at a crossroads. Do we maintain the deathwatch of the status quo, occasionally plucking off the most vulnerable schools and still falling short? Or do we seek true sweeping reform and innovation? Do we push against the atrophy and decay of the average 75-year-old campuses? Or do we proceed with vision and hope, looking not five weeks down the path but rather five years and 50 years?
It’s time for a strategic plan. One that involves very thoughtful consolidation, central office cuts and creative austerity measures yet has many luminous aspects. This could include centralized state-of-theart campuses, with the crown jewel being a new Career and Technical Education facility. One that would be the envy of surrounding parishes and states: an amazing facility that could provide all high school students with job-ready skills training.
By building on past successes with the Caddo Career and Technology Center and deepening public/private partnerships, we can begin building a skills base that will break endemic cycles of poverty, crime and dependency. Fortunately, a growing majority on the school board currently share this same vision. Many of us, diverse as we are, are committed to positive change. As a board, we serve the public. Your continued positive pressure, feedback and encouragement will help us plan for this parish’s future.
Don W. Little
CPSB Dist. 4
School Board Vice President