Norco Elementary tornado repairs discussed

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 20, 1999

STACEY PLAISANCE / L’Observateur / March 20, 1999

LULING – Norco Elementary School will soon undergo repairs from the early March tornado that swept through the area and left its mark on the school.

In just a matter of seconds, 17 trees were uprooted and sent airborne on school grounds during the recent category-one tornado, with severe winds causing damage to school property, equipment and the building’s roof system, Larry Sessor said at the St. Charles Parish School Board meetingWednesday.

Estimated cost of repairs exceeds $440,000, he said.

Temporary roof structures were constructed on Norco Elementary within days of the tornado in the amount of $42,000 to avoid having to close the school for repairs mid-year, Sessor said.

“The roof system took the blunt of the blow with a lot of dents, punctures and separated seams from the winds,” he said.

With the tornado having passed through Norco during a weekend, the school system had enough time to make temporary repairs for school to be held as usual, Sessor said.

“Even though the tornado was classified a category one it caused excessive damage, and we’re fortunate this didn’t happen during school time,” he said. “The building wasn’t a safe place.”The school system’s current insurance policy will cover the damage as a natural disaster with a $100,000 deductible. Board member Wayne Rousselsaid the board should look into lowering the deductible if possible.

Norco Elementary is expected to be repaired by the summer, Sessor said.

In other action, the board moved to initiate a summer school and remediation program for students who have scored at the “unsatisfactory” level on LEAP 21 tests.

The program would be geared toward fourth- through eighth-grade students, and cost is approximately $30,511 in excess of the $54,150 allotment by the state.

Therefore, the district has prepared an application for possible funding based on state guidelines.

The board also approved the request for refunding of the present Head Start program in the parish in the amount of $687,467 from federal funding. St. Charles is one of a select group of school districts thatsponsors the Head Start program, which offers preschooling to children 4 years of age who come from families that meet certain income guidelines set by federal mandate.

Superintendent Rodney Lafon said many Head Start programs nationwide are funded and operated without assistance from the school district, which can effect the quality of the program.

Head Start Representative Bertha Barfield told the board a study will be conducted to measure the effectiveness of the Head Start program compared to a recent study of preschool programs.

Studies indicate that good preschool programs for at-risk children help prevent school failure and have both short- and long-term benefits, Barfield said. Such programs may improve academic performance, reducethe need for placement in special education and reduce drop-out rates, she said.

College attendance and rate of employment after high school were also shown to be increased with preschool programs, she said.

The board also: Rejected a proposal that would allow the state to collect local sales and use taxes, which represent approximately 65 percent of the parishes tax revenue.

Authorized architect contracts for three projects, the ROTC buildings at Destrehan and Hahnville high schools, New Sarpy Kindergarten Center Administrative Office and an addition at Allemands Elementary School.

Accepted the recommendation to finance the purchase of 12 school buses over a three-year period with an option for early payout of funds are available. Cost is $222,000. Declared Thursday, March 18 “Retired Teacher’s Day”, and declared Saturday, April 10 “The United Way Hale Boggs Bridge Run/Walk Day” in the parish.

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