In order to keep its new high school construction planning on track, the Lafayette Parish School Board may hand its checkbook over to Superintendent Donald Aguillard.
The School Board’s facilities committee, which on Tuesday accepted the recommendation, also received an update on other ongoing school construction projects: The school district recently celebrated the completion of a $9 million expansion at Thibodaux STEM Magnet Academy. A new classroom wing at Green T. Lindon Elementary is expected to be complete this week. Work continues on a new cafeteria that doubles as an auditorium at L.J. Alleman Middle.
For the high school project in Youngsville, the committee gave its support to the recommendation that Aguillard be allowed to authorize individual expenses up to $100,000 with a cap of $500,000 in allowable expenditures approved by the superintendent without board approval.
The move would ensure the project remains on schedule, Aguillard told the committee, which includes board members Jeremy Hidalgo, Elroy Broussard and Britt Latiolais.
The high school is planned in Youngsville with a goal of an August 2017 opening date.
Preliminary work to prepare the site, such as environmental assessments, are needed before construction can begin, Kyle Bordelon, the school system’s planning and facilities director, told the committee.
The purchase orders will still be brought to the board so they’re aware of the expenses, Bordelon said prior to the committee vote.
Bordelon cited an upcoming expense of $50,000 for a geological survey of the property.
“We have to get that moving forward to get going on site work packages,” Bordelon said.
There are four meetings scheduled between now and the end of the calendar year, so waiting on board approval of certain items could delay the work, Latiolais said.
“If we want to get started and get this school open, we need to do what’s necessary,” he said.
The recommendation will go before the full board at its 5:30 p.m. meeting Wednesday.
On Friday, a committee will meet to vet proposals submitted from companies interested in managing the construction project. That committee’s recommendation will go before the board at its Nov. 11 meeting, Aguillard said.
The board’s executive committee met to learn about bus camera options as a way to improve bus safety and capture video or photos of motorists who ignore school bus arms activated to stop traffic as children get on or off the bus. Two companies, Redflex Student Guardian and Force Multiplier, both made presentations outlining their services. Redflex currently provides red light photo enforcement in Lafayette. The company’s Student Guardian service also has contracts for school bus stop arm enforcement for 40 districts across the country, including in Gwinnett and DeKalb Counties in Georgia, where it services about 800 buses. Force Multiplier provides services to 400 buses in Jefferson and East Baton Rouge parishes. Representatives of both companies told the board they could deploy their technology on the parish’s school buses at no upfront cost to the board. The service would be paid through traffic violation payments with a share of the payment directed to a selected law enforcement agency, the company and the school system.
The committee made no recommendation Tuesday but requested the companies give their presentations to the full board at a later meeting.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.