Buildings committee to discuss J.E. Harper Elementary issues

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The buildings and maintenance committee of the Webster Parish School Board is set to meet Wednesday to begin fixing the issues that plague J.E. Harper Elementary School.

Set for 4 p.m., Wednesday, in the school cafeteria, District 6 board member John Madden brought it up in Monday’s school board meeting saying he just wanted to make sure they were going to do what they promised the people they would do.

“We just told the people a couple of weeks ago we were going to do something, and I wanted to start the ball rolling,” Madden said, after he’d asked to name a committee to discuss the issue.

Harper’s issues fall under the buildings and maintenance committee, he says and is fine with the committee taking the mantle.

The committee is made up of board members Linda Kinsey, Madden and Brandon Edens. It was made clear that it’s a committee meeting and any board member is welcome to attend.

Teachers and Principal Janene Ashley have pleaded with the school board to make some much-needed changes to the school. Since that time, discussions have taken place as to what to do with the school as well as logistics on how to handle it all.

In 2010, several schools were consolidated to help the parish save money. In that consolidation, the elementary schools in Minden were completely rearranged and one was closed.

Kindergarten and first grade students were moved to Harper; second and third grade students were moved to J.L. Jones Elementary; and fourth and fifth grade students were moved to E.S. Richardson Elementary.

In March, a special meeting was called at Harper so the public and board members could see the issues firsthand that teachers and students face every day. Many of those issues are logistical ones where there are four restrooms for roughly 500 students, an open air classroom setting which allows for a lot of noise and security is not what it should be.

The board is now looking at ways to alleviate those issues and more, and cost and what to do with the students are large factors in the final decision.

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