Dr. Michelle Clayton, Director of Academics for the Zachary school district, told the board that the state requires them to close the Port Hudson site first as a school, before re-opening it as a career site. "Keep in mind that Port Hudson was not always intended to be an alternative school but a school with alternatives," said Clayton. "This will give our students a wide array of career alternatives."
The 70 students who attend PHCA now have chosen Port Hudson because they are seeking a GED, been deemed academically at risk or may have had trouble in a regular classroom setting. A small percentage of the student body also includes kids who have been expelled.
The action taken by the board will refocus PHCA as less of a school for expelled kids to that of a more technological curriculum, she said.
Clayton said all the students who attend PHCA now will stay and attend their day there, and all students will be considered Zachary High students.
About $2 million in construction will be spent on the new Port Hudson site, including a new vocational building and four bays for teaching technology and skillsets in the automotive, construction and industrial instrumentation fields. The fourth bay or trade has yet to be determined.
Superintendent Scott Devillier said the district would likely contract with another company or campus to provide an option for its expelled students, as it has done in previous years.
Devillier also said he met with Georgia Pacific's Keith Wahoske, Vice President of Operations, in order to determine the plant's needs for future workers.
All students who attend ZHS will be able to take classes at the new Port Hudson College and Career Academy.
In addition, the new site could offer classes in culinary fields, as well as in art, engineering and other programs.
Clayton said the new site will be included in future district performance scores, and all students test scores will be considered.
Other school board news included:
• Superintendent Scott Devillier gave his bi-monthly report, recognizing the Zachary High School Z-Star students who attended the Feb. 28 meeting.
ZSTAR is a college level course for juniors and seniors who want to be teachers and is taught by Debby Lowery, also in attendance.
Those who complete the ZSTAR class with a grade of A or B can earn college credit.
• Devillier also remarked on a successful Black History Month presentation given on Feb. 22 by students and in conjunction with the Martin Luther King Jr. Committee of Zachary. "I think every seat in the new Visual & Performing Arts Center was taken," Devillier said.
• Special Olympics student-athletes from Zachary competed last week at an event at the La. School for the Deaf.
Devillier said the group won 19 first-place medals, 22 second-place, 14 third-place, 12 fourth-place, two fifth-place and three sixth-place medals.
Two young Zachary competitors from Copper Mill placed first in all three of their events - Keshaun Young and Terrell Davis. Congratulations, to these two young men!
STUDENTS OF THE YEAR:
The school board also recognized and honored eight of the district's 5,400 students.
The 2012-13 Students of the Year representing the Zachary Community School District are: Kynlee Rheams, Zachary Early Learning Center; Carson Woodard, Northwestern Elementary; Kayla Johnson, Rollins Place Elementary; Katherine Higgins, Zachary Elementary; Julie Odom, Copper Mill Elementary; Ashleigh Martin, Northwestern Middle; Ikenna Nzewi, Zachary High; and Sarah Moore, Port Hudson Career Academy.
Each student received a plaque and kind words from their principals or teachers.
"As a parent, you're very proud of your child, and as a district, we're very proud of you," Devillier told the students. "Not only do you have to be an all-around person, but you also have to make good grades."
The board authorized Devillier to purchase four-acres of land from the Zachary Men's Club for $120,000 to be used for P.E. classes at Northwestern Middle School.
Henry Carville of Bani, Carville and Brown was approved as the new architect to complete $2.3 million in renovations at Copper Mill.
The school is set to receive a new gym and additional classrooms.