Board approves bid for school’s HVAC fix

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 17, 2012

By David Vitrano


RESERVE – The air conditioning and heating problems at Emily C. Watkins Elementary School are on track to be corrected by the start of the 2012-13 school year after the St. John the Baptist Parish School Board approved a bid for work to be done at the LaPlace school at Thursday’s meeting.

The low bid came from J.F. Juge Construction Co. for $1.145 million. This is nearly $100,000 less than the amount budgeted for the project.

The bid includes the main project, which will tackle the problems with the school’s HVAC system, as well as two alternate projects, which will correct plumbing and drainage problems at the school.

“We are fortunately able to address all of the problems that were identified,” said Project Manager Todd Mann.

Mann said the project will be done in two parts. The first will be the off-site and after hours portion, which will begin tomorrow. The second part will begin May 18 after students start their summer vacation and end July 31 in time for the new school year.

“It’s a tight schedule. There’s a lot of work to be done,” said Mann. “We’ve got one of the best mechanical engineers in the state (working on it).”

The board also approved a resolution asking the state bond commission for approval of $4.5 million in General Obligation Refunding Bonds, which will be up for voter approval in April.

“The resolution before you is a customary one,” said bond attorney Hugh Martin.

He said the only parts that were somewhat out of the ordinary are two provisions providing for the reservicing of existing bonds. The move will take advantage of the current low interest rate to save money on bonds issued in 2001 and 2002.

“We have an estimated savings of $368,000,” he said.

Martin said passing the resolution now would ensure the measure is on the State Bond Commission’s April agenda but added the results of the election will truly determine whether the measure moves forward.

The district’s technology team of Bonnie Dinvaut and Bob Bourgeois also presented a plan for 2012-2014, which reflects the parish’s increasing access to high-speed Internet connections.

“Increasing bandwidth will allow for more streaming,” said Bourgeois.

Dinvaut noted that the new plan includes numerous benchmark goals for 2014.

Several members of the board praised the work of the Technology Department, especially for continued growth despite cutbacks.

“We probably do more with less than any other parish in the state,” said board member Lowell Bacas.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, Superintendent Courtney Millet recognized the work of Associated Terminals, which for the past 14 years has provided Christmas gifts for underprivileged children in the parish through its Associated Efforts non-profit. In 2011, the company gave new bicycles and helmets to 44 children in St. John Parish. The board presented Associated Terminals Executive Assistant Joycelyn Himel with a plaque of appreciation.