Lake Pontchartrain move creates school schedule rush

Published 12:11 am Saturday, October 15, 2016

LAPLACE — A specially tailored schedule would likely only impact Lake Pontchartrain Elementary School students during the 2017-18 academic year, Superintendent Kevin George said this week.

George talked about the targeted approach after Wednesday’s School Board Land and Facilities Committee meeting, where Cindy Janecke, project manager with All South Consulting Engineer, updated interested parties on the construction status.

Massive construction is easily visible at the school’s 22-acre site on U.S. 51 in LaPlace, which has been dormant from student activity since Hurricane Isaac shuttered the location in the summer of 2012.

Today, the LPE community of kindergarten through eighth grade students and staff members is located in a temporary site at the rear of East St. John Elementary.

Janecke said the $23 million project is approximately 40 percent complete and on schedule following its launch 10 months ago.

Substantial completion is expected in late September 2017 with a 30-day window following to complete punch list items, allowing St. John the Baptist Parish Public School District officials access to the building by November 2017. That should give school officials, George said, enough time for an expedited move-in schedule to launch the school for students in January of 2018.

George said administrators are working together to make sure transportation, timing and curriculum are taken into account, with leaders hoping to complete the transition in a three-week window over the 2017 Christmas break.

District Purchasing Agent Director Peter Montz has begun contacting moving companies with the scope-of-work necessities.

George, Montz and others are working on scheduling options for Lake Pontchartrain Elementary students that could include starting school earlier next academic year, ending school later or extending the school day.

The school days could also be expanded, as the state stopped mandating the number of days children go to school and just focuses on the number of minutes they receive of instruction.

George said his group should make a schedule suggestion to the District’s calendar committee in the next few weeks, with that committee presenting a full schedule to the School Board sometime in 2017.

Ups & downs

The School District first held a public town hall meeting in April 2015 announcing demolition plans for Lake Pontchartrain Elementary.

There was plenty of enthusiasm after the School Board unanimously voted the month before to award the demolition contract. Attendees were told the new school would open in August 2017.

However, demolition fell behind, pushing back the construction timeline that calls for the school’s reopening to take place in January 2018.

Now the calendar committee is charged with creating a schedule that keeps the January 2018 opening in place.

Construction concerns have not negatively impacted student performance.

Lake Pontchartrain Elementary students recently posted huge gains, increasing the school’s 2015 Performance Score 15 points in evaluations released in December. The performance raised the school’s ranking from a “D” to a “C.”