Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Foundation work is underway on a new cafeteria and gymnasium at L.J. Alleman Middle School Friday in Lafayette.

Cold and wet weather has pushed back work to complete the foundation for a new cafeteria for L.J. Alleman Middle School by a few weeks.

“They’ve started with the foundation. They haven’t poured the building slab yet because they’re waiting for a break in the weather,” said Kyle Bordelon, the school system’s acting chief operations officer and facilities director.

The nearly $4 million project will ease congestion in the lunch schedule during mealtime while also doubling as an auditorium for the school system’s performing arts academy.

The school’s existing cafeteria was built for about 180 students, but the school now enrolls about 1,100.

“Even a whole grade level doesn’t sit in there at the same time. It’s like a revolving door during lunch,” said Alleman Principal Kathy Aloisio.

The new building will have a stage and double as a performance space for the school, which enrolls students from across the district who are part of the performing arts academy studying music, dance and theater.

Aloisio said the school uses Lafayette High School’s auditorium or rents Angelle Hall on the University of Louisiana at Lafayette campus for its student performances. Even with the new and larger building, she said, the school will still need to seek a different venue for band concerts and other activities that feature a large number of students.

Master Builders & Specialists Inc. was awarded the contract for the construction project, which is funded by a 2012 bond sale. The bond sale also paid for the expansion or major repairs at five other schools in the school system.

Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.