School Board Getting Out of Daycare

RRPJ-Lawson CEnter-18Apr20

The Jeannette Lawson Family Center is not fulfilling the mission for which it was established. School Superintendent Alison Hughes told the board it has now transitioned to a public daycare. Hughes and Finance Director David Jones presented details of the operations and showed that the center lost over a million dollars over the last few years. Hughes questioned the legitimacy of the school board running a daycare.

Hughes explained that the program was originally established as Even Start, funded by the general fund. It was a service to school employees and high school students with babies, not for the general public. At present the center is a public daycare with few school employees children and no high school student’s children.

The proposal outlined by Hughes is to discontinue the day care at the Lawson Center. The three-year-old program would be moved to Red River Elementary School. It would become a learning program to get kids ready for pre-K. Dr. Diane Newton reported that she has talked with Bienville Parish about their three-year-old program. She said, “They said it had made such a difference in the kids. They said it is the best thing ever. It will be a plus for our three year olds.”

Board member Valerie Cox asked, “What will happen to the staff at the Lawson Center?” Hughes responded, “Everyone keeps a job. Mrs. Edna Webb (currently the director) is a certified teacher and will continue to work with three year olds. The janitorial staff will probably go to the elementary school. No one will go without a position.” Webb told The Journal her only regret is that she will no longer be working with infants and young babies.

Other factors in the decision to change the program included the physical condition of the current Lawson Center building. It is in need of repair and is on the list of structures to be demolished this summer. That building was the black high school (Springville High School) building in the early part of the 20th century prior to integration.

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