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Fast growth in Lafayette Parish stressing schools in Youngsville

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YOUNGSVILLE, Louisiana — Fast growth in the Youngsville area of Lafayette Parish is stressing the capacity of the school system.

Superintendent Pat Cooper said the district isn't prepared for the growth the community is experiencing and staff has asked the School Board several times to start the process to bring a tax proposal to voters to pay for upgrades.

The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/1svjHMx) that among problems confronting the district are overcrowding at schools and too few buses in service.

Monique Veillon sees the new houses going up in Youngsville and wonders how the school system plans to deal with a flood of new students into its classrooms.

"When May comes, 224 houses will be complete and occupied," Veillon said of her neighborhood and new ones that surround it. "So, where are these children going to go? My neighborhood is a majority of four-bedroom houses. Do you think single people are going to buy a four-bedroom house?"

She told the board last week that her son, a Comeaux High freshman, rides a bus where riders have to squeeze three to a seat or sit on the floor.

Cooper said he plans to present a proposal to address growth to the School Board in September. Part of that plan involves building a new school in Youngsville, he said.

Board member Mark Allen Babineaux blamed developers for the problems and said Cooper has publicly state the view that Lafayette Parish voters won't support a tax.

The district is working on buying eight more buses and adjusting routes. But more buses create the need for more drivers, which are not easy to find because of a policy requiring bus drivers to have a high school diploma or equivalency diploma, Cooper said.

He said he'll ask the board to relax the requirement, especially because the state requires only that the drivers have a commercial driver's license. The school system has had an ongoing issue of hiring substitute drivers based on the same educational requirements. The system hires its drivers from its substitute driver pool.

Cooper said more teachers also are needed for schools in the southern part of the parish.

"We've had a lot of folks moving into the parish," Cooper said. "We kind of knew they would, but we thought the charter schools would take some of that load off, but it hasn't."


Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

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