Ascension Schools: New attendance zones approved, buses closer to getting AC & employee stipend approved

DONALDSONVILLE — The Ascension Parish School Board made several decisions at their meeting Tuesday night impacting families across the parish.

Parish Redistricting

After months of debate, the school board adopted a revised SP1 plan for the 2024-2025 school year to make way for the new Prairieville High School, which is set to open in 2024.

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Projected numbers show that East Ascension High School will be the largest high school in the parish with an estimated 1,916 students in grades 9-12. Dutchtown is anticipated to have 1,877 high school students, Prairieville High is expecting to welcome 1, 825 students and St. Amant will see an estimated attendance of 1,757. Donaldsonville’s attendance remains roughly the same at 423 students in high school.

“We understand that this change may bring questions and concerns, and we are committed to making this transition as smooth as possible for those impacted,” APS superintendent Dr. Edith Walker said. “We also acknowledge that not everyone will be happy with these changes. However, please understand that we serve over 24,000 students, and our Board gave their best effort to equitably balance enrollment across feeder systems.”

Rising 11th and 12th graders impacted by the changes will be allowed to stay at their current school. Parents will receive instructions next week.

A/C on School Buses

The school board transportation committee moved one step closer to approving cooling units on the parish’s school buses.

This will cost the district an estimated $1.6 million dollars to install the units on the parish’s fleet of 114 buses and a $300,000 annual increase to the parish’s 62 leased buses.

The full board will vote on the proposal at its meeting on November 28.

The issue has been a contentious one for bus drivers, parents and school leaders. Bus drivers have been advocating for safety improvements on buses, including adding air conditioning, since the beginning of the school year. The issue was exacerbated by the extreme heat Louisiana experienced in August and September.

Employee stipend

The school board also approved a one-time stipend for full-time and part-time employees. Full-time district employees will get a $1,500 salary supplement and part-time employees will get a $750 salary supplement.

This stipend is in addition to the one-time pay bonus funded by the state.

“I want to thank our Board Members for making this investment in our teachers and staff,” Walker said. “This one-time pay for our hardworking employees is a recognition of their dedication and a reflection of the District’s commitment to attracting and retaining exceptional staff members who play a pivotal role in our students’ education.”

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Daniel Brown is an award-winning journalist from Livingston Parish. Daniel began his career in Baton Rouge before working at television stations in Cleveland, Atlanta, Charlotte and Beaumont. As a newsroom editorial leader, Daniel has helped lead stations to regional Emmy awards as well as Edward R. Murrow awards for distinguished journalism. He is a proud graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University.

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