The Lafayette Parish School Board on Wednesday approved a new position of a school improvement administrator whose primary job will be to help struggling schools boost student achievement.
The board unanimously approved the job, which Superintendent Donald Aguillard said he’d like to see filled by someone with “extensive principal experience.” Aguillard said the person will likely focus on up to four of the school system’s low-achieving elementary schools. Aguillard said it’s imperative that the school system acts “quickly and dramatically” to give schools the support they need.
Next week, the state is expected to release scores for elementary and middle school students on the state’s more-rigorous standardized tests.
Also during Wednesday’s meeting, the board addressed an action expected to expedite the building of the new high school in Youngsville, which is planned to open August 2017.
To keep a tight construction timeline, staff suggested the board give Aguillard the authority to approve expenses that don’t exceed $100,000, but capped the spending approval at a total of $500,000. The suggestion was endorsed by the board’s facilities committee Tuesday and, when brought to the full board Wednesday, was approved unanimously without discussion.
Facilities planning director Kyle Bordelon on Tuesday cited as an example the upcoming estimated $50,000 expense for a geological survey of the property. More surveys are planned and needed to prepare the site for construction, he said.
The board will use bonds to pay for the initial phase of the high school construction, as well as other improvements in the district.
On Wednesday, the board gave its approval for staff to bring a bond sale proposal to the state bond commission — a preliminary step. A total of $135 million in bonds would be split with the sale of up to $55 million in sales tax revenue bonds repaid with revenues from a 1-cent sales tax and the sale of up to $80 million in limited tax revenue bonds repaid with property tax revenues from an existing 4.59-mill tax.
The school system’s chief financial officer, Billy Guidry, told the board that its approval is only one step in the bond sale process and only gives staff permission to present the bond sale proposal to the bond commission.
“We’ll be back before the board to actually sell the bonds, and (the board) will have opportunity to approve or disapprove (the bond sale). This is a step to get to the point of actually selling the bonds,” Guidry said.
Also, Wednesday, the board approved an agreement with Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center to enable the hospital to continue health services it provides students at Acadian Middle School. Previously, the hospital provided health services to the students once a week via a mobile clinic, the Care Bus. Under the agreement, the school system will provide space on the campus for the hospital to continue the weekly health services.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.