St. James schools getting makeover

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 21, 2010

By David Vitrano


LUTCHER – A visit to public schools throughout St. James Parish reveals a number of ongoing renovation projects, ranging from simple parking lot repairs to entirely new structures.

The largest of these projects are at Romeville Elementary and Vacherie Elementary schools. Both schools sustained substantial damage during Hurricane Gustav, and each requires a new gymnasium along with other work.

While the district anticipates some of the funding for these projects to come from the federal government in the form of FEMA dollars, so far the parish has yet to see this money and has been forced to pay for the early stages of these projects out of its own budget, according to public relations coordinator Marlon Reed.

At a meeting Tuesday, the St. James Parish School Board was expected to approve substantial completion of demolition at Romeville. The board also recently began to advertise for bids to choose design firms for the two major elementary school projects. The total cost for the major renovations at these schools is expected to reach nearly $2.3 million.

While the construction of the new gymnasiums at the elementary schools as well as new classrooms at Vacherie Elementary is still in the early stages, the district has already wrapped up a number of other projects.

Minor renovations at Fifth Ward Elementary and Lutcher Elementary are complete, and aspects of renovation projects at nearly every facility in the parish have at least begun. Additionally, some major projects such as a new cafetorium and gym renovations at St. James High School are finished.

At the board’s last regular meeting, a motion to start negotiating with FEMA to receive relief money was approved.

“I don’t think we’re going to wait, but we’re hoping the funds will come through,” said Reed.