Forward-Now Note: This was offered to the Shreveport Times, and to this point has not appeared. We have added some notes for clarification as well as audits we uncovered that we feel bear on this letter. These were added without the knowledge or consent of Councilman Corbin. However, we feel these are relevant to understanding the position of education and the CPSB. [Note Audits below each relevant section i.e. Transportation here, where safety of children seems to be a significant problem Also THEFT of Property!]
The future direction of Caddo Public Schools is an important issue for our Parish, our City and future opportunities for both students and economic development. Without a good working relationship and common goals between the Caddo Commission, City of Shreveport and the Caddo Parish School Board we will not be able to take advantage of all potential opportunities to help our region grow and prosper.
Over the past 15 years, multiple Superintendents have presented their plans to the public and the School Board to address a declining student population, changing demographics and shifting populations. While some parts of these plans have been implemented, the idea of closing campuses, major consolidations and addressing aged facilities in today’s educational environment have not truly been addressed. It is my belief that we have the opportunity today, possibly the final opportunity, to structure a new Caddo Public Schools to accommodate the future needs of students and show taxpayers how their funds are being spent to improve education today and in the coming years.
I must recognize the proposal submitted by the Alliance for Education and published in the Shreveport Times September 20, 2013. Many valid ideas are presented and it includes the items we have seen numerous times before with no action being taken to implement.[FN Note: Dr. Phillip Rozeman’s editorial on Common Core Oct 25, 2013 here]
Campus Consolidation, Closure and Strengthening
Caddo can simply no longer afford to operate the number of school campuses it has. For many areas of the Parish and the City it is time to start with a clean sheet of paper and design a series of school facilities that serve the current population and addresses predicted population growth (ex. I-49 North, Southeast Shreveport, aging populations). Design a series of sustainable campuses and build strong student bodies by eliminating the necessity to transfer out of a student’s neighborhood or to a magnet program. Return focus to strong neighborhood and regional schools to discourage the creation of more magnet programs that draw good students from marginal schools.[FN NOTE: Internal Audit of failures within the System] [FN Note on previous “campus consolidations” here]
It is time to ask the U. S. Justice department to remove Caddo Public Schools from the existing Consent Decree. The original intent of the Consent Decree and the changes it forced on Caddo Public Schools brought positive changes and opportunities for all students. Today it ties the hands of Administration and the School Board to react to changes in demographics, population and educational trends.[FN Note on 2012 Consent Decree Amendments]
Modern School Campuses
The recently completed Facility Study documented what we already knew. We are asking our students and faculty utilize school buildings that simply can not support modern technology and teaching methods or expectations of our students. While much has been done to provide ample electricity, technology connections and infrastructure to classrooms the fact that most existing buildings were constructed before a fax machine, email or a smart board were envisioned make it difficult to keep up with educational advances. Through consolidation and closure of existing campuses we have the opportunity to look at building or renovating structures that are located in the correct place and provide modern amenities for teaching and learning.[FN Note: Vision 2020 study results]
No longer can the fastest growing area of Shreveport and Caddo Parish be overlooked. Southeast Shreveport needs a school facility today. Land was purchased years ago for a new school. The population of school aged children continues to increase while University Elementary School is operating at or above capacity. Addressing the needs here should be done in conjunction with addressing the declining populations in the inner city. .[FN Note: Vision 2020 study results (these appear to be consistent)]
It would be my hope that by addressing the items above there would be less dependency on transportation services provided by CPSB. To quote long time board member Jerry Tim Brooks, “Put those busses back in the bus barn!” I recognize there will always be a need to provide transportation for students but building strong neighborhood schools and consolidating campuses should reduce the amount of resources (monetary and natural) dedicated to transportation services.[FN Note: The most recent audit shows transportation has been a failure of the Midway Offices ability to control waste]
This item was not originally included in my letter to Dr. Robinson.
Caddo Schools need stability and focus now. I encourage the School Board members to suspend the search for a new Superintendent until after the 2014 election cycle. Allow the current Interim Superintendent to lead the district and implement plans proposed to and ultimately approved by the Caddo Parish School Board.
I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts.
Michael D. Corbin
Shreveport City Council – District D
Forward Now Note: The CPSB failures to reign in contracts and apparent theft from within the system [See Lee Hedges Concessions Audit] continues to be a failure of board members, whom we feel bear responsibility for the failure of the process.