LIVINGSTON — The Livingston Parish School Board moved a step closer Thursday night to issuing $25 million in bonds that will bring improvements to Walker schools.
In May, school district voters approved a plan that increased property taxes by adding 16.83 mills to fund various projects, especially Walker High School’s vocational and technical programs.
The majority of the funds will benefit the high school, board member Jimmy Watson said.
The proceeds from the bonds will go toward a building with about 32 classrooms, administrative offices and a library. The school also will get a new cafeteria, band room and athletic facilities and pay to resurface the school’s track and apply new turf to the football field.
Another new building will house Walker High’s growing vocational program. This year, the school began courses in plumbing, mechanical instruction in heating and air conditioning equipment, and heavy equipment operation, Watson said. There are also plans to begin teaching robotics and electrical training next year.
The new facility will give new space to those programs, as well as other existing courses in welding, carpentry, television production and small engine repair.
During Thursday’s meeting, the board, minus absent member Milton Hughes, unanimously approved a plan to begin advertising the sale of the bonds. They are scheduled to hit the market at noon Nov. 20.
The additional millage will pay off the bonds over 20 years, according to literature disseminated by the School Board when the issue went to a vote.
Watson expects the millage rate to decrease over the period as the city’s tax base grows. Walker has seen the fastest growth of any district in the parish, he said. Last year, the system grew by about 400 students, roughly half of whom entered schools in Walker, Watson said.
The system also celebrated Disability Employment Awareness Month by recognizing 32 businesses and government bodies that offered on-the-job training and work to students in the parish’s special education programs.
High school students have taken jobs in restaurants, retail locations and even school cafeterias to learn job skills while taking classes, Director of Special Education Jeanne Ebey said.
Albany High has even hired students to work in the cafeteria.
“They do everything every other cafeteria worker does,” said Anna Broussard, coordinator for community-based programs.
“They’re held to the same standards.”
The board also voted to pitch in $40,867 annually to both the Denham Springs and Walker police departments. The sums represent half the cost to fund each department’s school resource officer program in city schools, an identical arrangement to a deal the system currently holds with the Sheriff’s Office, which provides resource officers in unincorporated communities.