EPSB approves proposal for new site

By: CARISSA HEBERT

Managing Editor

The Evangeline Parish School Board agreed in a vote of 10-to-one to ask Ward One voters to support a millage of 18.7, which would generate $21.5 million to construct a new high school at the district’s site on state Highway 29 and make improvements to Chataignier Elementary.

Superintendent Toni Hamlin said this proposal is the same as the one proposed to voters in the fall of 2007 minus renovations to the present high school site. Once built, grades nine to 12 would be housed at the new site and grades five through eight would remain on the old campus.

Hamlin said the new proposal was for 18.7 mills, (which is 7.8 mills less than the original proposal of 26.5 mills). The bonds would be sold through two different sources, one private and one through a rural development loan. She said the bonds would be sold in this way: 11 mills for 25 years and 10.5 mills for 30 years. (This proposal was for a shorter period than the first proposal, which was for 40 years.)

“I believe this is a win-win situation for Ville Platte and for Ward One,” Hamlin said. “I believe it’s one of the last chances, if not the last attempt,” voters have to approve a change in Ward One’s educational system.

Evangeline Parish is presently under a desegregation order. The United States Justice System recently filed motions against the school district suggesting the district has not fulfilled its agreement to improve the Ville Platte High site. That hearing has been set for Monday after the Saturday, July 19, election. Both leaders of this district and its attorneys believe the judge will close down Ville Platte High by bussing students from Ville Platte to other schools in the parish.

Hamlin said she was optimistic about the July election, because the fall proposal failed by 299 votes. She said she believed there has been a sense of change in the parish in regards to building a new school. “It’s a reasonable amount of money,” she said. “We’ve listened and taken all things into consideration.” Hamlin said the millage was smaller than the first proposal and it was for less time.

Darwin Lazard, desegregation compliance officer, also gave his approval of the plan before the board voted. The audience was asked to respond, but no response was given. The board voted for the proposal with Lonnie Sonnier voting against it. Voting for it were Wayne Dardeau, Wanda Skinner, Jerry L. Thompson, Arthur Savoy, Scott Limoges, Peggy Forman, Gervis LaFleur, David Landreneau, Dan Hoffpauir and Georgianna Wilson.

In Hamlin’s report to the board, she said three administrators participated in the MDA event; Grace Sibley, who raised $1,750; David Riveria, who raised $500; and Delores Miller, who raised $1,200. She also reported 53 grants have been awarded from technology monies received by the district. She said two were from Evangeline Central, five from Mamou High, four from Ville Platte High, two from Vidrine Elementary; nine from James Stephens Montessori, and 31 at Ville Platte Elementary.

Hamlin said 23 schools participate in the region Literary Rally at LSUE each year, and Evangeline Parish sent 15 students from Basile, 13 from Mamou High, nine from Pine Prairie High and 11 from Ville Platte High. Basile had five students place first at the rally; Mamou had six first place winners; Pine Prairie had two and Ville Platte High had seven.

Board member Jerry Thompson said Waven Boone, the art teacher at Pine Prairie, told him students participated in an art show in Alexandria recently, and one of the students was honored with his painting being bought at auction by a person from Mississippi.

In other business, the board:

•Announced the next meeting would be Wednesday, April 23.

•Agreed to support a resolution opposing the appointment of the state to collect, distribute and disburse local sales taxes.

•Appointed Mary Ann Fontenot as Title One director. Hamlin said Fontenot has done a wonderful job assuming most of Ursula Miller’s duties, who has retired as Title One director.

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