A new high school is already in the works for the Broussard and Youngsville area and a new school to replace Katharine Drexel Elementary may not be far behind.
Superintendent Donald Aguillard said he plans to recommend the Lafayette Parish School Board consider replacing Drexel Elementary because the board has enough bonding capacity to complete an initial phase for the high school and build a new elementary school.
Aguillard said he’ll make his recommendation during the board’s finance committee meeting at 5 p.m. Thursday.
The board has $120 million in bonding capacity, which is more than initially expected, Aguillard said.
“We had $94 million in bonding capacity,” he said. “We’ve since reworked the numbers going from a 20-year to a 30-year payout and in doing so, we can increase capacity from $94 million to $120 million without any adverse impact on the taxpayer.”
Aguillard proposes reserving $35 million of the $120 million for a new Drexel Elementary.
Staff has estimated the initial phase of a new high school could cost about $65 million or more. Subsequent phases would involve construction of a stadium and athletic fields.
The board has previously approved financing the high school and additional classrooms for Drexel and two other schools — Plantation Elementary and Milton Elementary/Middle — pending leftover money from the high school project. Aguillard said it’s a better investment to rebuild Drexel rather than add to the aging campus.
“We want to increase the size of Katharine Drexel so it can accommodate more students,” he said. “We also want Katharine Drexel to pick up the fifth-graders at Broussard Middle, which frees up classrooms there.”
Aguillard said he’s asked the city to help locate 40 acres for the new school.
“I’ve indicated to the city of Broussard that we could look at some kind of land swap or intergovernmental agreement where city would pick up the existing campus,” he said.
Broussard Mayor Charles Langlinais said the City Council is willing to work with the school system to identify potential property. He said preliminary discussions about a future site for the school have already begun, including two potential sites off La. 92 and near the School Board’s property, where it plans to build the high school. Langlinais said a move from the current site could benefit the school community.
“It’s a really inaccessible location and doesn’t have enough acreage to provide for expansion. It may be better to start from scratch,” he said.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.