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Calcasieu has more than 4,600 out-of-zone students (with breakdown)

Last Modified: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 12:57 AM

By Ashley Withers / American Press

The Calcasieu Parish school system approved more than 4,600 out-of-zone transfer requests for the 2012-2013 school year — a figure that has one school board member particularly concerned.

“I’ve been told that LaGrange and Washington-Marion (high schools) are losing 400 students. This is hurting the community,” District 14 board member Roman Thompson said.

“Some of the brighter kids are choosing to go out of zone, and the schools are suffering. But the problem is much bigger than just those two schools.”

Thompson is worried about the potential consequences of approving 4,635 out-of-zone transfers.

He said this causes overcrowding at the schools receiving the students and could lead to the closing of the schools the students are leaving.

But Keith LeLeux, the system’s director of child welfare and attendance, said approving this number of out-of-zone students is nothing new.

He said this year’s numbers are “comparable” to previous years’.

“The same schools have high numbers of out-of-zone students,” he said.

Barbe High School received 502 out-of-zone students; S.J. Welsh Middle School received 356; and Dolby Elementary received 248 out-of-zone transfer students this school year.

About 30 percent of students at Barbe and S.J. Welsh come from different school zones, and the proportion at Dolby is about 50 percent. The percentages are based on last year’s enrollment information — the latest numbers available.

District officials said these schools do not expect enrollment to differ greatly from last year’s figures.

Many of the students transferred as part of the majority-to-minority transfer process, which allows students whose race is in the majority to request a transfer to a school where their race is a minority.

LeLeux said other reasons for an out-of-zone transfer include child-care options, different programs like Spanish immersion offered at only select schools, and other “hardship situations.”

Students must reapply for out-of-zone status each year.

“We deal with the requests as they come. It’s not our job to make the number go up or down. It’s our job to simply process the applications and approve or deny them,” LeLeux said.

“Students must provide us with the reason for the out-of-zone transfer. If there is a bona fide reason and it’s verified, we approve the transfer.”

Thompson said he believes the high number of transfers stems from the reputations of some of the schools.

“We’ve trying to convince someone who has been told that the building is on fire to go back into that building. Parents have been told the teachers can’t teach, and who wants to put their kid in a school like that?” he said. “I’ve heard all kinds of reasons from parents, but we’ve got to figure out how to attract them back.”

Thompson said the School Board, Superintendent Wayne Savoy and the community must come together to encourage parents to keep their children in their assigned schools. He hopes to discuss the issue at future committee and board meetings.

“We have to reach out to those families and let them know the schools in their district are sound,” he said. “We have to get these kids to be proud to go to school in their neighborhood.”

Out-of-zone students in Calcasieu Parish

Posted By: Michael On: 9/18/2012

Title: He is right

Roman Thompson is right.
There is a slow downward spiral that is affecting schools with declining enrollment and the present policy is continuing the decline. This policy puts strains on the schools that kids are transferring to as well. If the school board is providing transportation I shudder at the thought of the cost of running school buses all over the parish for out of area students.
It doesn't make sense.

Posted By: Glenn Gordon On: 9/18/2012

Title: Seriously?

Gee....I can't imagine why someone would want to move their child out of a school where most of the student body is 3 or 4 grades below where they are supposed to be. Where many of the students don't care and come from homes that care even less. Why would a parent want to move a child from the worst schools in the parish and move them to a school where they might have a chance? Geez....get a clue people.

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