Board hears about drainage, communication problems

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 25, 1999

By STACEY PLAISANCE / L’Observateur / January 25, 1999

LULING – Problems with water drainage and radio communication in and around parish school grounds were revealed at Wednesday’s St. CharlesParish School Board meeting.

The board heard a presentation by Cornell K. Larry, an intern architectwith Hewitt-Washington & Associates, who cited six parish schools with grounds in need of water drainage improvements. Those schools are J. B.Martin Middle, R.J. Vial Elementary, Norco Elementary, Mimosa ParkElementary, Ethel Schoeffner Elementary and New Sarpy Elementary.

There are 18 school grounds in the parish, and Larry proposed the initiation of a study to investigate each drainage system and find ways to solve any drainage problems and concerns.

Larry proposed that J.B. Martin and R. J. Vial serve as test cites forWashington-Hewitt & Associates to isolate and solve drainage problems on the school grounds. The combined acreage of J. B. Martin and R. J. Vial is34 acres.

Maj. Sam Zinna, president of the 911 Board of Commissioners, made apresentation regarding the development of an 800 Trunking Radio System for St. Charles Parish. Zinna explained that the sheriff’s office, firedepartment and emergency service communicate on separate channels, through different infrastructures. EMS currently uses Monsanto’s 800 MHzSystem, and the sheriff and fire departments operate through St. JohnParish’s infrastructure.

“Using the St. John tower we only have about 60-65 percent coverage andreliability,” Zinna said. “We need our own tower for the parish.”Both St. James and St. John parishes operate their radio communicationsvia their individual 800 MHz infrastructures. Zinna said it is importantthat St. Charles Parish obtain its own system. Currently having to use theMonsanto and St. John Parish radio systems, St. Charles Parish emergencyservices and other agencies are unable to communicate simultaneously, and coverage is inconsistent.

“There is no system in place now that allows all the emergency agencies to talk at one time on the same channel,” Zinna said. “In the case of anemergency, all the agencies are unable to get the same information and share information at the same time.

“The school board and other agencies are also unable to hear all the calls on one channel,” he said. “We need an upgrade.”Cost for an infrastructure in St. Charles Parish is estimated at$1,443,500, and user equipment for the system is estimated at $747,000.

Total cost for the project is estimated at $2,190,500, but Zinna said that further negotiating with Motorolla Co. are under way.”Motorolla made a bid that was a bit excessive, but we are negotiating so that hopefully the bid is at or near our estimate,” Zinna said. “We’veshown them that they’re excessive, and I’ve told them we’ll walk away from the table unless we can negotiate. If another vendor wants to comein, it’s just a matter of having another player come in.”The timeline for the initiation of the project is approximately 10-12 months from the time a contract is signed with a vendor.

“There’s no doubt we need this system, but it’s got to be reasonable,” Zinna said.

In other business, the board: Witnessed Lafon make special presentation to outgoing Board President Wayne Roussel.

Proclaimed Jan. 27, 1999 as School Nurse Day, at the request of Gov.Mike Foster.

Approved the issuance of the General Obligation Refunding Bonds, which will allow the board to take advantage of the current low interest rates and save money over the remaining life of the bonds.

Approved the issuance of the Sales Tax Bonds which make necessary capital improvements throughout the school system while staying within the existing revenues.

Adopted a resolution for the opening of the sealed bids received for the purchase of Sales Tax School Bonds, Series 1999, and the General Obligation School Refunding Bonds, Series 1999.

Approved accounts payable for the month of December, which total $1,690,799.64. Accepted bids to allow capital improvement projects to proceed, as interest rates are currently at a very low rate.

Approved the revision of School Board Policy 3.22 (3), First Reading, tocomply with the BESE Test Security Policy.

Authorized the Request for Proposal to allow administration to release the request to interested auditing firms, enabling the firm selected to begin necessary procedures in a timely manner.

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