Marengo County enrollment, travel plans impacted by Katrina

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 23, 2005

LINDEN-As evacuees made their way to Marengo County the issue of education arose. Displaced students had to attend classes somewhere and many chose to enroll in Marengo County schools.

Marengo County School Superintendent Luke Hallmark said the system had seen an obvious growth in the last month.

“We have picked up close to 35 students,” Hallmark said. “They were spread out. We had students in every school except A.L. Johnson.”

Email newsletter signup

The numbers were higher until earlier in the week when nine students left John Essex to return to Louisiana.

Though the school system is happy to give the students a new home, they also incur an expense when they enroll in the system. Hallmark said he had already begun putting together a plan to get assistance with their growing expense.

“I have talked to FEMA about costs for the students that have come into the system,” Hallmark said. “It is an expense for us and I talked to them about figures and numbers to reimburse us for displaced students.”

Student enrollment was not the only number that saw significant growth during Hurricane Katrina. Gas prices also soared to almost $4 a gallon in some areas. Shortages were also a major issue.

Hallmark said because of the circumstances surrounding fuel prices and supply they must carefully consider any travel for county schools.

“We have to be extremely careful and efficient with our bus fuel,” Hallmark said. “I have met with Parr’s because they have our bid and they told us for county entities such as school systems we shouldn’t have any problems, but if we did we should call the district to be sure they would release fuel for our school system.”

Hallmark said the tanks were topped off this week and the supply should be stable for a while. He said he had already discussed the situation with principals and let them know where the system stood.

“I have talked to our principals about field trips,” Hallmark said. “I told them we need to be a whole lot more selective until after Christmas. We need to see how the fuel crisis is going to be.”

Hallmark said the same applied during athletic seasons.

“I think in athletics once we have contracts with other schools we don’t need to add any additional games,” Hallmark said. “We need to leave the schedule like it is because with fuel up to $2.50 and $3 a gallon it adds up to a lot more than it did a year ago.”