School bond issue deferred
By Henri C. Bienvenu
BREAUX BRIDGE – Parish voters will be asked to renew a property tax for school maintenance in April, but school board members last week took no action regarding a proposal to seek voter approval of a new $30 million bond issue for extensive capital improvements to schools around the parish.
Renewal of a 8.32 mills property tax will be submitted to voters in a special election set for Saturday, April 4. The special millage has been on the books for a number of years and the board will seek renewal of the millage for another 10-year period.
But the board did not even consider a resolution calling for a new bond issue to fund approximately $30 million in capital projects around the parish. The item was removed from the agenda at the start of the meeting with little discussion.
Bonding attorney Lonnie Bewley had told the board’s finance committee in October that the board could issue the new bonds and repay outstanding bonds without increasing the current tax millage of 22.39 mills.
The packet distributed to board members for last week’s meeting included a list of the proposed projects that could be funded with the proceeds from a bond issue, although the staff emphasized that the list was only a proposal and that costs were estimates.
Among the larger projects proposed were:
•$4.05 million for Cecilia High School – band room, gym and classroom walls.
•$4.05 million for Breaux Bridge High – auditorium and greenhouse.
•$3,836,000 for St. Martinville Sr. High – gym, restrooms, carpet removal and various other items.
•$3,130,000 for Parks Primary – 10 new classrooms, restrooms, multi-purpose room.
•$3,850,000 for new offices at Instructional Center.
•$2.5 million – Parishwide upgrade of aging window air-conditioning units.
•$1,572,000 for Cecilia Primary – 8 new classrooms, restrooms.
•$1,179,000 for Teche Elementary – 8 new classrooms.
•$1,125,000 for Breaux Bridge Primary – multi-purpose room.
It appears that board members are not in complete agreement as to just how the $30 million should be used, but the matter will likely be brought up again at the board’s February meeting.
Another item removed from the agenda without discussion was a proposal to reconsider grade levels at schools in St. Martinville and Cecilia.
A staff recommendation proposed the following changes:
•St. Martinville schools – Early Learning Center, change from pre-K and kindergarten to pre-K to 1st grade; St. Martinville Primary change from grades 1 to 4 to grades 2 to 5; and St. Martinville Jr. High change from grades 5 to 8 to grades 6 to 8.
•Cecilia schools – Cecilia Primary change from pre-K to 3 to pre-k to 2; Teche Elementary change from grades 4 to 6 to grades 3 to 5; and Cecilia Jr. High change from grades 7 and 8 to grades 6 to 8.
The staff justification report says the relocation of the 5th grade to SMJH resulted in overcrowding and the transition has been a difficult one.
In Cecilia, the staff points out that Cecilia Primary currently has more than 930 students and the campus has no more space for additional classrooms
In other action, the board agreed to share the expense of an additional JROTC instructor at Breaux Bridge High School, where the new program has 97 participants with another 46 on a waiting list.