The St. Landry Parish School Board on Thursday approved a preliminary cost estimate range from $985,000 to $1.25 million for a new cafeteria at Leonville Elementary.

The district also plans to spend $11,487 to repair the existing cafeteria, Assistant Superintendent Joseph Cassimere told the board.

Architect Donald D’Avy said that while the school’s 630 students will use the current cafeteria during the upcoming school year, a new cafeteria will be built on campus and should be ready for 2016-17.

Cassimere said state health officials are dissatisfied with the condition of the existing cafeteria and demanded immediate improvements.

“The health department has been on our backs, and I would suggest making this (repairs) an emergency approval,” Cassimere said.

Food Director Lucretia Chancler said the problem with the cafeteria is in the kitchen area, where there are holes in the floor.

Chancler said it would not be cost effective to cook meals at other cafeteria sites and then transport them to Leonville.

Bringing meals prepared at other schools would preclude serving hot meals on a daily basis, she said.

The cost estimate for the new cafeteria is based on the $800,000 the School Board approved several years ago for the Lawtell Elementary cafeteria, D’Avy said.

D’Avy said his cost projections for Leonville also include site demolition of the old building, drainage improvements, additional restrooms and design.

The repairs also include an existing stairwell inside the school and restroom facilities, according to the committee report.

In another matter, Opelousas Police Chief Donald Thompson told the board he has applied for a state grant to pay a portion of the $82,000 for one resource officer each at Opelousas High and Opelousas Junior High.

Board President Anthony Standberry said the school district will consider paying the other half of the costs for the officers.

In an interview, Thompson said the officers are needed at the two schools because of a number of incidents occurring on the campuses.

The officers would be present at both schools throughout the school day and for after-school events, Thompson said.

Thompson said he currently pays for resource officers at both schools from his department’s budget.

Thompson said the district paid most of the costs for school resource personnel for several years before the practice stopped due to financial concerns.

Standberry said the matter will be presented to either the Finance or Executive committees, before the district’s portion is approved.

“We spend money on everything else, and student safety is something that is important to me,” Standberry said.

The board took no action on the matter.