St. John talks new schools

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, May 20, 2014

By Monique Roth

RESERVE — East St. John High School students should be walking into the 2015-16 school year on their renovated Airline Highway campus, according to information discussed at Thursday’s St. John the Baptist Parish School Board meeting.

Cindy Janecke, project manager at All South Consulting Engineers, briefed the St. John the Baptist Parish School Board last week on updates regarding funding and timelines for the openings of ESJHS and Lake Pontchartrain Elementary, the two district schools flooded during 2012’s Hurricane Isaac.

Initially, Federal Emergency Manage-ment Agency funding available to rebuild East St. John High School was $14.8 million. Janecke said after approaching FEMA and the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness with additional reports and information about the conditions of the schools, more money was added, bringing the total to $23.3 million.

Funds to rebuild Lake Pontchartrain Elementary were initially $11 million, but were later raised to $15.3 million.

Total funding available to rebuild both schools, including FEMA dollars and money earmarked from district taxes, is $56.6 million.

Janecke said under new FEMA guidelines, the school board will have discretion over how the money is spent. For example, the initial projection on the ESJHS renovation is $8.5 million, meaning the school board will decide what projects would be funded with the other $14.8 million of federal funds.

Janecke said ESJHS is “very close to going out for bid,” with that process expected to be begin in early June. After allowing approximately 12 months for construction, the school’s employees should be able to move in by July 2015 and start the school year with students in August 2015.

Janecke said the ball is in the school board’s court concerning the fate of LPE. She said the timeline is totally dependent on what kind of school the board wants to build and the location of the school.

She said design development should be complete by January. Construction of a new building could take up to 21 months, meaning the school may not be open until the fall of 2017.