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Plan for new charter in DeSoto Parish

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DESOTO PARISH, La. (KTBS) -

It is considered to be a historical landmark in the small DeSoto Parish community where it sits.
Pelican All Saints High School came about in the1950's when several rural church schools were combined.

Last year the school also became the victim of consolidation when the cash-strapped DeSoto School Board closed the campus to save money. Now a group is pushing to revive Pelican, as a charter school.

Closing Pelican wasn't popular then and a year later it's still not popular. That's why Pelican community leaders and parents, thwarted last year, are trying another strategy, turning the Pelican campus into a charter school. A charter school is a publicly funded independent school.

"The DeSoto Parish School Board and Dr. Brumley himself says there is no need for a charter school in our area but there is," said  Tracy Thomas, of Pelican.

The 7 to 4  school board vote to close Pelican saved the district an estimated 1.6 million dollar budget in the district .Angry Pelican supporters also lost their case in federal district court..

"They're concerned about dollars and cents and we are concerned about the education of our children,"  said Thomas.

Now a students now make the ride to Mansfield High School, where Superintendent Cade Brumley believes students have more educational opportunities.

"When we looked at the Pelican situation, we knew that we had to provide more opportunities for those students that where attending school there.  This was a year and a half ago and we knew we had to move resources down to that site including human capital, or we had to move those students to where those resources and opportunities already existed such as band such as ROTC such as advance placement courses," said Brumley. 

As part of the district re-zoning students were moved out of north DeSoto south, to Mansfield.  "You're talking about a 30 40 mile area where there is not a school.   Everything south of 84 corridor is a blank as far as a school is concerned. There are 8 communities here but they are collected communities under WEBCORP,"
said Thomas.

But finances aside, Brumley insists this is a better option for students. "I am a superintendent of a public school system.  My job is to provide the best educational opportunities for all the students of this district, through this public school system, and that's what I intend to do," said  Brumley.

Organizers of the proposed pelican charter school will submit their proposal to DeSoto Parish School board members during their meeting March 7th.
If the charter application is denied, organizers can resubmit their application to the Board of Secondary Education in Baton Rouge, where they say they are confident it will pass.

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