St. John schools seek voter support Saturday

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE — An election on July 16 will ask the public if it is willing to authorize the St. John the Baptist Parish School System to borrow $20 million in bonds, as well as renew an existing 6 mill property tax and renew a 4.75 mill property tax for an additional ten years. This is a renewal of existing millages.

The money would go to a “wish list” for the schools, and a raise in school employee salaries.

A series of public information sessions were held over the past couple of months by the St. John Parish School’s Communications Committee to discuss the bond and tax renewal election.

At these meetings, a wish list was formed through discussion by members of the committee and the public, which included construction of a ninth grade wing at East St. John High, and a new elementary school on the east bank, among other buildings, improvements and additions.

Superintendent of Schools Michael Coburn, who introduced the proposition, said the bond and tax items are definite needs for the system, and he feels he has support.

“We are the fourth highest in the state in terms on new enrollment,” Coburn said, “This is something we need if we are going to continue to grow and putting it off is going to hurt us.”

Coburn also wants to remind the public that the item, if passed, will not raise or bring about any new taxes, but only redirect and renew taxes.

The paying back of the borrowed $20 million in bonds will come out of the school board’s general funds.

“I’ve been talking to a lot of people and the first thing they ask me is about taxes,” Coburn said.

“It will not cost you a penny, and everyone I’ve talked to is supportive because there will be no new taxes,” he said.

Coburn had also said, at the past meetings on the subject, the school board is “doing financially great,” and in the future, as in 2009, an estimated $50 million could be borrowed (in addition to the $20 million) for further improvements.

The bond proposition and the millage/tax proposition are independent of each other, allowing one to be voted on without the other.

Coburn said he expects the voter turnout to be “probably very light.”

“Some people I’ve talked to have said less than 5 percent,” Coburn said, “But as long as we get one more vote for it than against it, I’m happy.”