Lafayette School Superintendent Donald Aguillard anticipates more students to arrive for the first day of school Thursday compared with last year’s enrollment.
“We think we’re going to have more students attending our schools,” Aguillard told the School Board on Wednesday. “We’re thankful to parents for giving us the opportunity to educate their students.”
Aguillard said a notice was issued Wednesday to alert parents of bus route and stop changes and to encourage parents to check bus route information online at lpssonline.com or to call (337) 521-RIDE for bus driver and route information. Parents who have general — nontransportation — questions may call another number: (337) 291-HELP.
Aguillard said school preparations began May 18 — the day he started his job as superintendent.
Several new administrators are at the schools following shifts at the central office and a few retirements of longtime educators.
This summer, the school system hired 179 new employees, and 163 of those hires are classroom teachers, Aguillard said.
“Regrettably, we are still about 13 teachers short of being completely staffed,” he said.
Most of those open positions are middle and high school jobs, and substitute teachers will staff those classrooms on Thursday as human resources employees continue to work to fill those vacancies, Aguillard said.
Also Wednesday, the board approved a $25,000 expense to hire CSRS Inc. to update the school system’s facilities master plan. The Baton Rouge-based firm developed a master plan for the school system in 2010 identifying more than $1 billion in facility needs. The firm plans to submit an updated plan along with a priority list of projects to the board by October.
The existing facilities master plan was used to help develop campus priorities five years ago and was the basis of a tax proposition that failed in 2011.
Since then, the School Board hasn’t brought a new tax to the public. That could change soon as the school system has faced each new fiscal year with a deficit, this year totaling more than $16 million.
Staffers are expected to propose property tax increases at a finance committee meeting at 5 p.m. Thursday. Staffers also have proposed the sale of $120 million in bonds to build a new high school in Youngsville and for other school improvements to help ease overcrowding on campuses in south Lafayette Parish.
One expense — about $35,000 — to refurbish a 20-year-old portable single classroom building to accommodate student growth at Milton Elementary drew debate from board members who questioned the wisdom in spending that much money to renovate an older temporary building. Board member Erick Knezek said he wouldn’t spend his own money to refurbish a “mobile anything” that was 20 years old. The board instead voted 5-4 to spend up to $100,000 to buy a new portable building with two classrooms. Board members Justin Centanni, Britt Latiolais, Dawn Morris and Tommy Angelle voted against the purchase. Knezek, Elroy Broussard, Mary Morrison, Jeremy Hidalgo and Tehmi Chassion voted for the expense.
The Milton Elementary campus, which also houses Milton Middle, will likely enroll more than 1,000 students at the start of the school year, and extra classroom space will be needed, said Joe Craig, the school system’s chief administrative officer.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.