School District meets with La Sal Elementary parents to discuss future of school

by Maxine Deeter
Nearly 20 parents and concerned residents of La Sal met at La Sal Elementary School on April 12 to discuss the future needs of the school. 
In the past few years, enrollment at La Sal Elementary School (LSES) has been less than a dozen students.  And for the last few years, the faculty of the school has included two certified teachers and one part-time aide. 
Due to uncertain enrollment at the school and budget concerns district-wide, several options were discussed in relationship to staffing at LSES next school year.  In general, the school district has a full time teacher for every 20 students.
One option is to retain only one certified teacher for the kindergarten and first grade students.  The second and third grade students would be bussed to Monticello Elementary School. 
This option was met with much opposition from those attending, especially the parents whose children would be affected by the travel.  
Bussing students to Monticello would mean a nine-hour day (or more) for these young children.  Several parents who would be impacted by this said that they would home school their children before sending seven year olds to Monticello.
Another option is to have one certified teacher and one para-educator and keep the current Kindergarten through third grade enrollment.  The questions arising from this option includes whether parents would be comfortable with a para-educator teaching their children part of the time, rather than a full-time certified teacher. 
Another question discussed is if it is fair to ask that much of a para-educator who is making less than a certified teacher but doing much of the same work under the supervision of the teacher. 
A further question is whether a qualified person could be found in La Sal who is willing to work as a para-educator. 
The school district is not considering the option of closing the elementary school in La Sal.  The school is considered a necessarily existent rural school. 
A decision is to be made by the school board by May 16. 

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