Bridge City parents, community members rally to save Mildred Harris Elementary from closing

Mildred Harris is one of eight schools in Jefferson Parish at risk of closure.
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 10:59 PM CDT
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BRIDGE CITY (WVUE) - Parents, students and community members met Thursday evening to plan their opposition to the proposed closure of Bridge City’s only public school ahead of a vote next week.

Mildred Harris Elementary School, along with seven other schools across Jefferson Parish, is at risk of closing under a consultants’ plan as the district grapples with declining enrollment and an excess of school buildings.

Community members said they don’t plan to go down without a fight.

“I really think it’s going to make the community fall apart,” said Lydia Fayette, a Bridge City resident and a graduate of Mildred Harris. “With all the kids living in this neighborhood, it keeps the kids together. Without a school here, those kids are going to be separated and they’re going to lose their friends.”

Fayette said the faculty at Mildred Harris stresses anti-bullying measures highly, which she said greatly helped her when she was a student.

“I was that one little girl, always in the corner, shying away from everybody. But this school showed me I was more,” Fayette said.

Parents and residents met at the Bridge City Volunteer Fire Department building Thursday night to lay out their plan of action, hoping to convince school board members their school should stay open.

“We need this school in this area. We’ve always had access to a school in this area,” said Bridge City resident Wanda Ross. “We get together with the activities. The participation is there. It just helps to provide a stronger foundation. I just feel like it’s better for the students to be in their community.”

Mildred Harris is unique in the sense that many students are able to walk to school, and Harris has a high proportion of students who are English learners.

If Harris is closed, students would be bussed to either Emmett Gilbert Elementary in Avondale or Cherbonnier Elementary in Waggaman.

“Perhaps the decision has already been made. But I’m hoping we have the chance to change the minds of elected officials that are working and should have the students at heart,” Ross said.

A petition was circulated at the parent-led meeting, and the community was encouraged to show up to next week’s school board meeting and make their voices heard.

“A lot of people was crying because they didn’t want the school to close down,” said Farrah Landry, a third-grade student at Harris.

The Jefferson Parish School Board will meet next Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the district’s administration building at 501 Manhattan Blvd. in Harvey.

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