St. John community has another option for public school plan

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 15, 2008


News Editor

RESERVE—A new option for the community to consider will be discussed at this week’s school board meeting.

In addition to the four options discussed at the community meetings held over the previous few weeks, CSRS inc.  and the school board have added a fifth option, according to Abby LaCourse of CSRS.

She said this new option includes plans for a new building to replace an existing building on the campus of West St. John Elementary School as well as plans to replace the “pod” structures at LaPlace Elementary with new classroom buildings. This plan will leave approximately $14 million for general maintenance to all schools in the parish, but it eliminates the possibility of academic centers at the parish’s two high schools.

She also noted that the firm’s complete maintenance assessment comes in at about $41 million, well under the $46 million mark allotted to the school system under the Nov. 4 bond proposal.

CSRS , the consulting firm hired by the school board to aid in the creation of a master plan for St. John’s public school, had recently released a rough draft of their initial findings.

The draft contained an assessment of each of the 16 sites surveyed by the firm as well as the estimated cost of repair for nine of the sites. According to Chris Pellegrin of CSRS, further investigation was required before accurate estimates can be assessed for the other seven sites.

Topping the list is East St. John High School, which has an estimated $7.6 million in repairs. Repairs for its stadium come in second at $6.3 million.

Other schools with significant repairs include the Leon Godchaux Accelerated Program site and West St. John Elementary School, which both top the $3 million mark.

According to Pellegrin, the figures for West St. John Elementary School had to be readjusted from the original estimate. The school suffered some flooding from Hurricane Ike.

The most common, and most costly, deficiencies noted in the report have to do with Kitchen and HVAC equipment and the repair of and reconfiguring of parking and traffic areas and school grounds in general.

Some schools also have issues with their security systems, another costly item.

Pellegrin did stress in his presentation to the school board, though, that not all of the deficiencies need be addressed simultaneously.

“Address the highest priority items first,” Pellegrin advised.

He went on to say that many of the other items are maintenance issues.

This week CSRS will spend time going over input from its assessments as well as from the school board and the community meetings. They will then deliver their final report on Oct. 16.

After that, the decision is up to the voters. The school board is pinning its hopes to a bond issue on the Nov. 4 ballot that will provide the school system with $46 million with which to execute the master plan.