ST. AMANT — There’s a pretty big issue on the April 9 ballot: a proposed extension of an Ascension Parish School District property tax.
But on Monday night at St. Amant High, at the first public forum the School Board held to discuss its proposal, only one constituent showed up.
Galvez area resident Jessie Fridge came to learn more about another important issue: how growth in the parish will affect the school where she has a third-grader now and will also have a kindergartner in the fall.
“There’s a new subdivision coming at the end of Henderson Bayou (Road), with 90 lots,” an area near her home, Fridge said.
“Is that going to bring Galvez Primary up to its maximum number of students?” she asked.
“They have some space to grow,” said Planning and Construction Director Chad Lynch, one of eight school district employees on hand to answer questions.
Galvez Primary, he said, has about 600 students, with 720 being the ideal maximum the district aims for its primary schools.
The formula for figuring how many students a new subdivision might bring is “one primary student for every three homes,” Lynch said.
By that formula, the new subdivision Fridge mentioned would add about 30 students to Galvez Primary.
Districtwide, Lynch said, there will be 6,000 lots coming online in future years, as construction begins on the 43 new subdivisions already permitted by the parish.
“It will stress us,” Lynch said.
The school district, which has nearly 22,000 students this school year, has been growing at the rate of 500 new students — the equivalent of a primary school student body — every year for the past several years.
“We’re constantly looking for land, constantly looking ahead,” Assistant Superintendent Steve Westbrook said.
The School Board is asking voters to extend an existing property tax of 15.08 mills to fund $120 million for construction of three new primary schools and a new middle school, as well as numerous renovation projects throughout the district and the site planning of a future high school.
The millage dedicated to school construction has been on the books for more than 30 years and has been extended several times.
If voters approve the extension, the tax would continue for 20 years, through 2036.
The School Board has scheduled three more public forums on the tax proposal (each meeting starts at 6 p.m.):
Monday, Donaldsonville High, 100 Tiger Drive
March 14, Dutchtown High School, 13165 La. 73, Geismar
March 21, East Ascension High, 612 E. Worthy Road, Gonzales