Residents want to see high school return to Marthaville

More than 100 residents attended the Marthaville Town Hall meeting called by the School Board. Photo by Donna Horn

By Donna Dyson Horn

I, along with 100 or so more, attended the town hall meeting that Natchitoches Parish School Board put on and may I say, this was something we have been waiting on for 40 years.  We thought there would be a chance of getting our high school back, but things didn’t go that way.   The meeting opened the same way it did at Provencal. They said they really don’t know where the high school would go, but again that was far from the truth. The land that the School Board already has will be used.

This article published in the Thursday, April 29, 2021, print edition

They are not interested in purchasing more land closer to the west side of the parish, but will put the new high school on Water Well Road.  It is off of I-49, and it runs, probably, in and out of the Natchitoches city limits.

The NPSB vision is to consolidate Districts 6, 8 and 10 into a new District 11 and will collaborate on designing, financing and building and new 2A high school with athletic programs and maintain equitable diversity.  If a high school is built there, it will have the same problems we have now; busing, no rural kids playing sports because not all parents can afford to go back and forth for school activities and more students crossing the parish line to attend school.

Some school board members, Eugene Garner, Rhonda Guidroz, Emile Metoyer, Steven Harris, Reba Phelps and Beverly Broadway, from left, attended the meeting. Board members Billy Benefield, Russ Danzy, Tan’Keia Palmer, Katrina Willis and Dorothy McGaskey did not attend.

The school board wanted to hear from us at the meeting and believe me they did. And the way they kept looking at their watches, they wanted this meeting to end. It did not end until 9:30 p.m.

Unlike Provencal, we had several that had questions and we had several that had done their homework and wanted answers. In other words, the school board has opened up an old wound and poured salt on it. Just like 40 years ago, it will be the school board to vote on a new school and not us. It is just like it was when one man shut schools down in Natchitoches Parish.

The school board consolidation issue should be put before the voters.  Let each district decide for themselves whether they want to be a part of it or not.

Supt. Grant Eloi opened the meeting.

Superintendent Dr. Grant Eloi and Lee Waskom, Business Affairs Supervisor, were caught off guard when one after another pointed out their views on this whole thing. It sure did not agree with their plan. Why can’t we have the Marthaville high school back? The buildings are still here and there is plenty of land to add more on. A school on Water Well Road – well, we might as well drive on into Natchitoches.

Marthaville school has lots of money to work with. Provencal has very little. Most of their money goes toward their school that was rebuilt after Cloutierville School was closed. We pay taxes and Cloutierville pays none.

What I am disappointed in is that our own school board member, Beverly Broadway, is not supporting us on this. I was not alone, One resident stood up, and after presenting her questions, finished up with the question of why wasn’t our own school board member saying something? It was stated it would take 755 signatures to have her recalled. I would not be surprised if that does not happen.

The school board has known about this for months and is just now letting us in on it.  The vote will take place in June and I’m sure they will vote and agree on the new high school on Water Well.  They do not care one flip about our rural schools, it is bus, bus, bus into the City of Natchitoches.

But will the big vote count?

The next day after our meeting, someone posted that the Marthaville town hall meeting turned volatile, which has no truth to it at all. The “story” received a lot of comments. Why would someone paint such an ugly picture of our community?  We were there to ask questions and get answers and not to fight it out.  It boils down to this, we want our high school back. And why not?

Sabine Parish has no problem with it and they win championships all the time.  We want to see our kids on the court playing for that big trophy.

Again, we want our high school. It is really simple and the school board is not answering questions that we want answered.