St. Charles board planning for enrollment booth

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 28, 1998

By Michael Kiral / L’Observateur / March 28, 1998

LULING – St. Charles Parish is the fifth fastest growing parish in the stateover the last seven years, and that growth is continuing on an annual basis. Local industries are bringing in more workers and people are movinginto the parish to escape the hustle and bustle of the metropolitan area.

That growth naturally means more families are coming into the parish and thus, more children. One of the major concerns that accompanies thatgrowth is what to do with all those new students.

The St. Charles Parish School Board was presented with information onthat growth by the South Central Planning and Development Commission at its meeting Wednesday night. The School District entered into anagreement with South Central Planning last March to get technical assistance in its long range strategic planning efforts.

Richard Poche, South Central Planning GIS administrator, showed that the population in the parish has risen from 21,219 in 1960 to an estimated 47,308 in 1997. The population is projected to rise to 51,550 in 2005. Andwhile more building permits were issued on the east bank from 1989-92, the opposite is true since 1993 although home sales are still higher on the east bank. That growth is expected to continue as 15 new subdivisionshave been announced in the parish.

Student population in the parish has grown from 8,274 in 1986-87 to 10,126 in 1997, a 22.4 percent increase. The student enrollment isprojected to increase 8.7 percent over the next five years and 16.09percent over the next decade. The largest increases are projected ingrades K-9 with the largest amount of growth expected on the west bank.

In order to help it gather information about the need for building and site improvements, the board surveyed 672 parents, teachers, administrators, support staff, students and business partners. The assessment focused onthe two high schools and four middle schools in the parish because that is where the majority of the impact is expected to occur.

The questionnaire revealed that 82 percent of the respondents feel there is not enough classroom space to accommodate students without the use of portables. In response to the question of what should be done ifenrollment continues to occur, 49 percent responded that they would prefer adding rooms to existing buildings while 46 percent prefer construction of a new school site at a different location. If the schoolsystem determines construction of a new facility for the upper grades is warranted to accommodate the enrollment, 35 percent of those surveyed said they would prefer one high school built on each side of the river.

Board member John Smith said the implications of this data needs to be studied. Larry Sesser, executive director for physical plant services, saidone of his department changes in the long range strategic plan is to present the board that data.

The board also received an update on construction projects in the district.

The 45,000-foot addition at Destrehan High School has been completed at a cost of approximately $2.6 million. The addition, known as theHumanities Building, houses 30 classrooms for social studies, foreign language and English and was occupied starting this month.

The $3.3 million addition at Hahnville High School is about 90 percentcomplete and is projected to be occupied starting in August. The buildingwill house 25 classrooms and five science labs.

Remaining projects include renovations and design and construction of an ROTC building at each high school as well as reroofing at Hahnville.

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