Luce: May 2 proposition grows St. James Schools

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The St. James Parish School Board is asking voters to fund a $56 million capital improvement plan that will expand and improve all the parish’s public schools for growth and greater academic and athletic success by voting on May 2 to extend an existing 10-mill ad valorem property tax.

Voters can vote early on the school-funding proposition through April 25 at the St. James Parish Registrar of Voters offices in Convent and Vacherie.

The ballot proposition is not a new tax, and it will not increase the amount of millages that taxpayers in St. James Parish are currently paying. Rather, the proposition will continue an existing 10 mills for 20 years to pay for the proposed school improvements. The proposition has received the endorsement of the River Region Chamber of Commerce.

We want to continue to grow our system and improve our student performance at every level, at every school. The plan that we are proposing will allow us to enhance learning environments, by creating safer environments, grouping age-appropriate groups, as well as college and career focused classes, for greater impact and efficiency

At the same time, we are making significant upgrades to our athletic facilities, to increase participation among our youth and to enable our programs to be more competitive. Every middle school and high school will receive improvements to their athletic facilities, and the district will construct a new competitive indoor swim complex that will include an Olympic pool, dressing rooms and seated viewing areas, which will allow all school programs to conduct better practices and host local, regional and state swim meets.

The capital improvement plan also includes a proposal to construct a new St. James High School campus at a safer location on Highway 20, near Vacherie, adjacent to where the football stadium is being built.  The new campus will be equipped with state-of-the-art classroom technology and lab equipment, it will feature a Performing Arts Center for concentrated electives in art, music and drama, and it will include a self-contained middle school section for grades 6, 7 and 8.

The school board has done an excellent job of looking at the needs of all the schools in the district and allocated funds and plans for each. We are making improvements to existing facilities where they make sense and can benefit our students, and we are proposing new facilities where they are needed.

The district will combine its Career Tech Center and Science & Math Academy to create a new Early College High School that brings the district’s dual credit programs and career certification classes under one roof.

We are committed to preparing our students for success after graduation. Just recently, the state announced that we have more students in our parish enrolling in college than in most other parishes. In fact, 10 percent more than the state average! We are proud of the path our students are taking and we want to continue our progress until we are No. 1 in every category.

I will be sharing information about the capital improvement plan with all the schools, as well as parish community groups, in the coming days and weeks to better inform voters of the proposed improvements and the funding proposition. Information is also available on the school district’s website,

Alonzo “Lonnie” Luce is St. James Parish Schools Superintendent. Contact him at 225-258-4501 or