Board approves new classroom building for East St. John High

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 4, 2000

ERIK SANZENBACH / L’Observateur / November 4, 2000

RESERVE – Trailers at East St. John High School could soon be part a of thepast.

The St. John the Baptist Parish School Board on Thursday gave officialspermission to seek bids to construct a new building that will house 10 classrooms.

Debra Schum, principal at East St. John High, asked the school board to OKthe construction in a surprise move at the meeting.

For the past 10 years students at the high school have been attending classes in 10 trailers set up in back of the main building of the school.

However, the condition of the trailers has deteriorated in the past couple of years, and Schum wants to get rid of the trailers entirely.

Because the trailers were leased by the school board, maintenance of the portable classrooms could not be done by school board maintenance workers.

“Getting the trailers fixed was like pulling teeth,” said Schum. “It is a realnightmare because we can never get them fixed.”Schum told the board that it is very expensive to lease the trailers. Itcosts the school board $54,000 a year just to keep the trailers.

Schum and Felix Boughton, director of Business and Finance, told the board the new building will cost between $900,000 and $1 million. With a 20-year loan for the building the school board would pay $89,000 in interest.

If the board keeps leasing the trailers, it would pay over $1.8 million in20 years. If the building is erected, the school board would save about$35,000.

“This will be very cost effective,” said Schum.

Schum said the trailers also pose a safety hazard, especially for the students with disabilities. Long ramps have to be built to the trailers andthese can pose as safety hazards, plus all the extra expense to the school.

Alton Darby, the architect who drew up the plans for the new building, told the board it would be a pre-engineered metal building that will have acoustic tile on the ceilings and sheetrock walls mounted on steel studs for walls. The floor would be composite tile.”This building can be easily constructed,” said Darby, “and it is designed to be expanded if you need more space.”The building plan includes 10 classrooms, with one of the rooms specifically designed for profound and severely disabled students. Thisroom will have its own restroom, a changing room and an area for a refrigerator, stove and a sink.

There will also be girls’ and boys’ restrooms, men and women faculty restrooms, a janitor’s closet, a storage room and an assistant principal’s office.

The board made a motion to seek bids for construction and to hire the architectural firm of Mestayer, Darby and Partner as designers. Themotion passed 10-0-2. John Crose and Matthew Ory were not at themeeting.

In other school board business:

Boy Williams and Cosey and Haston Lewis were granted new contracts to provide mechanical repair service to the fleet of school buses. The costfor the service contracts has increased by 5 percent over last year, but Boughton told the board the cost is justified because of the expansion of the bus fleet.

The board approved the purchase of a new scanner to check standardized test forms. It will cost $12,000.

The board unanimously approved the purchase of new public address systems for the stadiums at Joe Keller Stadium and at West St. John HighStadium. For $11,995, the school board will purchase two portable PAsystems that will also include CD players.

The board agreed to pay Rebowe and Co. CPA consultants $6,600 to trainpersonnel in all 12 schools on how to use the accounting software that is now in use in the central office. Boughton said that right now the 12schools have 12 different accounting systems. With the training,accounting of school spending will be more efficient and he will be able to track school expenditures online. The board passed the motion 9-1 withPatrick Sanders voting against it. Sanders said that money could be savedif one school board employee is trained then that person trains the other employees.

“I feel this is a waste of funds,” said Sanders.

This was the last meeting for interim board member LaRue Speights.

The former teacher has been serving in place of District 8 member Richard DeLong, who retired in July. At the next school board meeting either MikeMaggiore or Russ Wise will be seated in the District 8 slot, depending on who wins the election on Nov. 7.Speights said she enjoyed her short term on the board and was thankful that she didn’t get involved in anything, “too controversial.”

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