Boquet: School projects clear path for students’ return

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The beginning of 2016 has already provided some big milestones for the St. John the Baptist Parish Public School District in terms of providing two new schools for students.

School board members, staff and students celebrated the groundbreaking of Lake Pontchartrain Elementary School at the end of January. The groundbreaking was largely ceremonial, as workers had been driving piles at the site for some time, but it’s still important to mark the progress of being one step closer to getting Lake Pontchartrain into its permanent home.

In the next few months, you’ll see contractors pouring the foundation and excavating for water, sewer and drainage. Most of the work at the construction site will take place between 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday in an attempt to minimize any inconvenience to the surrounding residents. Some weekend work may be required but all work hours will conform to parish regulations. Residents who have questions or concerns about the work may contact Floyd Luster at

When the work is finished, students will come home to a one-story brick building that can house 800 students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. In addition to regular classrooms, the school will have an art room, band room, science labs and computer labs. Two facilities — a media center and a gymnasium — will be able to serve the community as well.

The media center will be located at the front of the building so that it can be accessed by the public without entering the rest of the school. Meanwhile, the gym will be a separate building and provide a high school regulation basketball court with seating for 400, a concession area and restrooms with athletic lockers.

And in the hopes of avoiding future problems during storms, the school is being built four feet above the existing site with hurricane doors and windows.

Work is scheduled to be completed in October 2017, with students occupying the new school when the new semester begins the following January.

The district has also made progress on East St. John Elementary School, which was back in class for less than a week when it was damaged by fire.

The district finally reached a settlement with its insurance company last month and the architect has been busy working on a design with input from the School Board and principal.

The parts of the school that suffered mainly smoke and water damage will be repaired, while the area that sustained the heaviest damage — around the cafeteria and offices — will be completely rebuilt.

The architect is also exploring the possibility of adding some type of gym or enclosed basketball court to the school.

We know the community, students and staff are as excited as we are to see progress being made at these sites. Every day is one step closer to bringing LPE and ESJE home.

Jennifer Boquet is the communications specialist for St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools. Email her at