School board OKs project wish list for bond election

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 16, 2005


Staff Reporter

RESERVE – The St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools Communications Committee held a hearing on Thursday to discuss matters related to the upcoming special election that will decide the fate of a proposed bond and tax issue.

The meeting was the second one held to allow the public to ask questions and share thoughts on the proposal to allow the school district to borrow $20 million dollars in bonds, while renewing and rededicating existing taxes. Though no new taxes would be required, homeowners would have to the pay current taxes for the next 20 years.

The election is scheduled to take place July 16.

After discussion and debate among the attending public, which, though scarce, included board members and concerned citizens, the committee came to an agreement on projects the money will be spent on provided the public approves.

According to Superintendent Michael Coburn, in March, principals of all public

schools were asked to compile a “wish list” of improvements they would like to see made to their schools. From those lists, a priority list of ten projects was made to get in order the needs of the school district to be addressed first.

After expressed concerns that the list could use re-working and attempts were made to change it up, in the end, the committee voted unanimously to adhere to the list as it was.

The top five priorities the committee decided on included new roofs for LaPlace Elementary, Godchaux Junior High and West St. John Elementary; new cafeteria tables for all schools; construction of a ninth grade wing for East St. John High; construction of a new elementary school; and physical education facilities for LaPlace Elementary, Ory Magnet, Fifth Ward Elementary and East St. John Elementary.

These projects would add to nearly $14 million.

At one point in the meeting, School Board Member Lowell Bacas made the recommendation to add a school gym to the proposed new elementary school as one is not included the construction costs. Efforts to replace a project on the priority list with the gym addition were unsuccessful

The gym construction will likely be pushed back to the second phase of the plan, when, in 2009, the school board may borrow an additional estimated $50 million for capital improvements.

The proposal also deals with the use of two taxes already in effect, a 6 mills property tax to be rededicated, and a 4.57 property tax that will expire that would be renewed.

These taxes would go toward salaries and fringe benefits for employees as well as the operation and maintenance of school facilities.

Before the election, the committee plans to hold two more public forums regarding the matter. Committee Chair Matthew Ory said one will be held West St. John.