East St. John Elementary rebuild coming slow

Published 12:07 am Saturday, October 17, 2015

RESERVE — St. John the Baptist Parish School Board Member Gerald J. Keller asked the School District’s administration and legal counsel if something could be done to quicken the rebuilding of East St. John Elementary.

“Why can’t we get on this right away?” Keller asked during Thursday’s School Board meeting. “What, legally, can this Board do?”

Assistant District Attorney Orenthal Jasmin said because there is no current emergency declared, the Board must wait on an insurance settlement conclusion before entering into the state public bid process.

“It is the position of the District Attorney’s office and as your legal counsel that, first and foremost, you acquire funding,” Jasmin said. “Perhaps the administration should start working towards drafting a bid so that this project can be put out. This project will have to be bided out, just like any other construction project in the State of Louisiana.”

On Thursday, Superintendent Kevin George said the District had not received the final presentation from the insurance company, but he anticipated it coming in sometime in the next week.

“Once we get that from them, then this Board will have to decide if that is something we consider fair and would be appropriate for us to do what we need to do back at East St. John Elementary School,” George said. “There is really nothing we can do until we have the funding secured.”

School Board Member Russ Wise said District leaders need to know how much money they are working with, adding that amount won’t be decided until negotiations conclude with the insurance company.

“That has to start with them coming with a proposed settlement,” he said. “That may be a couple of weeks away in terms of arriving at a final figure.

“If we rebuild where we are, they will cover the entire cost. If we decide to build a new school somewhere else, we get a much smaller amount, the depreciated value of that property. The property is 30-something years old now.”

Students of East St. John Elementary are attending classes on the Leon Godchaux Junior High campus in Reserve following a fire that greatly damaged East St. John Elementary’s main campus.