The number of teachers expected to be absent Thursday has dropped at some Lafayette Parish Schools.

Teachers from across the state are gathering in Baton Rouge as the legislature's Education Committee begins debate on key portions of Governor Bobby Jindal's education reform plan.

Officials with the Lafayette Parish School System say on Tuesday, 343 teachers planned to be absent for the committee hearing Thursday. That number actually increased to 399 Wednesday as teachers at five schools closed for flooding were finally counted.

But officials say the number of planned absences has dropped "significantly" at Alice Boucher Elementary School, Ernest Gallet Elementary School, Prairie Elementary School, and Lafayette High School. A dozen schools don't expect any absences at all.

Scores of substitutes, central office staff, community members, and parents have been lined up to fill the absences Thursday, according to School Board Superintendent Pat Cooper.

"Our principals and community have rallied to support our children," Cooper said. "We're grateful for that support and confidence."