There’ll be plenty to watch for in today’s election returns. One of the most dramatic local stories will involve the fate of Ville Platte High School. For the third time this year, voters are being asked to approve a property tax increase that would go toward a bond issue to rennovate the deteriorating 100-year-old facility. The town’s voters have already twice voted down larger bond issues that would have gone toward building a new high school for students. The last proposal was voted down on July 19 by a margin of 112 votes.
With a predominately-black student population, Ville Platte High is at the center of a 45-year-old desegregation case facing the parish - an issue has divided the town along racial and socioeconomic lines. The federal Justice Department says that if the bond issue on today’s ballot fails, it plans to shut down the school. Ville Platte High’s students will then have to be bused across the parish to different high schools. Last week, Ville Platte Gazette Publisher David Ortego told The Advertiser: “In the last election the vote was mainly split down racial lines,” Ortego said. “Predominantly-black precincts voted for the bond, while predominantly white precincts voted against it. The only way this can pass is if 90 percent of black residents vote and they all vote yes.”