DONALDSONVILLE — The Ascension Parish School Board gave the go-ahead for the district to do the design work for a “safe room” at Donaldsonville Primary School, where students could go in the event of an industrial chemical release.
Board member Robyn Penn Delaney, of Donaldsonville, had asked the board to look at such a concept, in the event of a release from CF Industries, located about a mile from the primary school on La. 3089.
Delaney had previously sought a new campus for Donaldsonville Primary farther away from the plant, as a possible project for a bond issue the board will bring to voters in April.
The School Board, however, voted earlier this year to keep the school at the location where it opened in 1986. The school will be getting major renovations in the future.
At a meeting of the school district’s maintenance committee last month, Maintenance Supervisor Jeff Parent had described how a safe room at Donaldsonville Primary would require the ability to seal doors and windows, keep the air temperature in the room as comfortable as possible and provide emergency lighting.
At the board meeting Tuesday, Parent said the cost for a safe room would be about $100,000 without a backup generator, and $175,000 with a backup generator.
Before the School Board meeting, Planning and Construction Director Chad Lynch said designing the room will help the district arrive at better cost estimates.
The design work will be funded in the current budget of the maintenance department; construction would be funded from the department’s budget for next year, Lynch said.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Donaldsonville resident Kerry Williams, who recently ran unsuccessfully in the Ascension Parish Council race for the District 1 seat, said he and several Donaldsonville parents would like to meet with Delaney and a representative of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education regarding Delaney’s concerns about the safety of Donaldsonville Primary students.
Williams also asked the board to wait until next year to begin the design work for the safe room.
At a previous meeting, Williams had spoken against Delaney’s request to move the primary school’s location.
Also at Tuesday meeting, students with Donaldsonville High’s ROTC raised an American flag in front of the School Board office on Webster Street. The board office had been without a flag for several years.
“You make us proud,” Superintendent Patrice Pujol told the students after the flag-raising ceremony.