School Board goes out to bid for band equipment

Published 7:00 am Saturday, October 15, 2022

RESERVE — The St. John the Baptist Parish School Board voted Thursday night to advertise to accept bids for band equipment for St. John the Baptist Parish students, replacing instruments lost or damaged during Hurricane Ida.

According to Janice Gauthier, band equipment that became molded after the hurricane could not be covered by insurance. This was partly due to the condition of the equipment, which was already old at the time of the storm, as well as the fact that some of it was kept in students’ houses when it should have been stored at the school.

“If we go out for bids, insurance will not cover it, and FEMA may or may not cover a portion of purchasing band equipment,” Gauthier said, noting the expense would need to come out of the general fund or capital projects budget.

The original motion was for the School Board to go out to bid for band equipment specifically for East St. John High School. This was later revised to St. John Parish students in general after a discussion weighed the cost of the investment against the number of students in the band program at East St. John.

School Board member Ali Burl clarified that he is not against band, but a headcount would be needed before spending $200,000 on equipment for a handful of students.

Board member Debbie Schum added, “If we only have a 32-person band, maybe we should look at purchasing (equipment) in sections. I don’t want us to have to spend an extra amount of money this year if we don’t have students who can play the instruments.”

Gauthier said options exist to lease to own band equipment spread out into five-year increments. However, the cost of leasing would exceed $54,000 per year.

School Board President Nia Mitchell-Williams said that if the instruments belong to the district, not specifically to East St. John, they can potentially be used at various elementary schools throughout the parish if there is interest in building new programs.

“If we introduce the instruments when the students are in ninth grade, it’s going to take longer to build interest than if they are introduced at the elementary level,” she said.