Colorful playground equipment sits in its own time-out corner on the shrinking school yard of Green T. Lindon Elementary as the Lafayette school system puts the finishing touches on a lease agreement with the city of Youngsville to create a new play space on city-owned land adjacent to the school.
The school lost its playground area for a greater need: new classroom wings to accommodate student enrollment. The school system is working out a lease agreement to move the playground to green space behind the city’s police station.
Students already use that space during recess, Principal Kaye Victorian said, but a lease agreement would enable the school to put in its playground equipment for the younger students.
The Youngsville City Council on Thursday approved a resolution authorizing Mayor Ken Ritter to work out a lease deal with the School Board. An earlier draft of the agreement set terms for a $1 annual lease for one year, though Ritter said school system staff suggested a five-year term, which he supports. The lease agreement awaits final approval by the School Board at its Oct. 7 meeting.
“I’m not expecting the dollar to come. If it does, we’ll take it,” Ritter said with a laugh.
He said the city is willing to work with the school system to provide Lindon students the play space.
“The expansion there has been great for our community,” Ritter said. “All the portable buildings came out, but it eliminated their green space for the playground.”
In the past few years, more than $9 million in construction projects have brought new classroom wings and a new administrative building to the campus. A bigger cafeteria and new, expanded faculty parking are other improvements, and construction of an additional classroom wing continues. The additional classroom space replaces portable classroom buildings and rest rooms that were needed when the school outgrew its original building, which was designed for about 400 students.
This school year, 820 students in grades prekindergarten to fourth grade are on the campus, Victorian said.
This summer, the School Board approved a spot rezoning to move some Lindon and Youngsville Middle students to Broussard schools and help free up space for new students moving into Youngsville — an area that’s seen rapid growth over the past few years.
“Before rezoning, we were at 846. And now at 820, it’s not because they didn’t go, it’s because they’re still coming. The neighborhoods are growing,” Victorian said.
She said once construction is complete on the campus, the school will likely reorganize its recess schedule for older students to take advantage of smaller areas of green space on the campus by creating hang-out areas with picnic tables and allow them to use nearby Foster Park, a baseball field that is now used for physical education classes.
The space near the police station is large enough for the existing playground equipment — two colorful playsets with slides and two domed jungle gyms, she said. She added that the school has $25,000 the school won as part of a local dealership’s schools competition that she’s been saving to purchase additional equipment for students’ recess.
Ritter said the lease agreement enables the city to give the School Board six months’ notice if it needs to use the property for the police station or another purpose — but, he said, the city has no plans for the property.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.