Public meeting set Thursday for St. John schools bond issue

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Staff Reporter

RESERVE-A communications committee meeting will be held on Thursday to discuss a $20 million bond issue within the St. John the Baptist Parish school system, to be voted on in a July special election. The meeting will be held from 4 to 6 p.m.

The meeting is to take place at the old Godchaux Grammar in Reserve, and is the second one held to allow the public to ask questions and share thoughts on the bond matter, which would pay for expansion of existing schools, construction of new buildings and even teacher raises.

Last week, the committee held the two hour hearing directly before the regularly scheduled school board meeting. According to Matthew Ory, communications committee chair and school board member, the first part of the meeting was dedicated to the explanation of the issues by the school district’s finance director.

The vote would allow the school board to borrow $20 million dollars in bonds, while renewing and rededicating existing taxes. Though no new taxes would be required, homeowners would have to pay current taxes for the next 20 years.

Ory said taxes were not the issue at the recent meeting, but the proposals the administration has made on how to distribute the money.

The two issues taking precedence at the meeting, according to Ory, is the possible addition of a new elementary school in the system as well as an expansion of East St. John High.

The new elementary school is thought to be the answer for the overcrowding of LaPlace Elementary, and is being proposed to be built on Belle Terre Boulevard.

Ory also said ideas about building a career center, or a school for vocational education was also tossed about.

“We just need to make sure whatever is proposed, that it is a priority,” said Ory.

The St. John School Board passed the item to send the issue to public election at last month’s board meeting, but the vote was not unanimous.

Some board members felt that they were not given enough time to assess the proposal, with even some of those who voted for it expressing ire at having to decide on the item with such short notice. The vote passed 7-3.

Ory said he has wanted to form a communications committee, and this seemed like an ample time to do so.

“I wanted to make sure the public has every opportunity for input and to get information,” Ory said, “If we don’t give the information, it will be harder to get it to pass.”