OPELOUSAS — The St. Landry Parish School Board voted Thursday to ask the State Bond Commission to approve $10 million in bonds to cover the costs of proposed capital improvement projects.
Superintendent Edward Brown said in an interview that $3.8 million of the proceeds from the bond issue will pay for a two-phase cafeteria and classroom project at Leonville Elementary.
The initial phase the board unanimously approved includes the new cafeteria and eight new classrooms at a maximum cost of $2.5 million. Project architect Donald D’Avy told the board 10 more classrooms are projected for inclusion in the second phase.
The remainder of the projects included in the bond issue will be discussed at a later date. The sale of bonds is a way to raise money for projects, with a promise to repay bond holders over a fixed period of time.
Brown said the district’s buildings are in serious need of upgrades.
“Our most recently built school was done about 40 years ago. We also have nearly every building in the parish that is leaking right now,” Brown said.
Although the board engaged in little discussion about proposed projects other than Leonville Elementary, board member Milton Ambres noted that buildings for the northern end of the parish are in serious need of repairs and replacement.
Bond attorney Eric Lafleur said the board needs to establish a priority list by Oct. 15 that indicates how the district plans to spend the bond money, which, according to the resolution, is to be repaid over 20 years.
Finance Director Tressa Miller said the district could have applied for as much as $15 million in bonds but she felt safer recommending $10 million due to St. Landry’s financial condition.
At the July meeting, board members were told that state health officials are dissatisfied with the condition of Leonville Elementary’s cafeteria.
Until the new cafeteria is built, the district will make repairs to make the existing building safer while the new facility is being built, D’Avy said at the July meeting.
In other matters, Brown told the board that Port Barre High and North Elementary are starting the school year on Aug. 13 without principals. Principals William Duplechain, of Port Barre, and Sandra Gamache, of North Elementary, both had their requests for sick leave approved by the board.
Brown said the opening of school at both campuses will be handled by members of the central office’s supervisory staffs.
In a pair of unrelated personnel matters, the board unanimously delayed action on approving an ad for a supervisor for the district’s Title I program and adding an extra month’s salary for a preschool facilitator position.
Ambres said downgrading the head of the Title I program from a director to supervisor had not been discussed at the Personnel Committee meeting last week.
Brown said the district would save about $2,500 annually by changing the position from director to supervisor.
Board member Raymond Cassimere objected to the way the facilitator’s issue was handled because the matter also was not presented at the Personnel Committee meeting.
“It’s a matter of proper protocol being followed as a board. I’m not against what is being done, but I don’t want to have something shoved down my throat,” Cassimere said.