DONALDSONVILLE — With construction underway at two flood-damaged Ascension Parish public schools, with no word yet on federal reimbursement, the restoration project for a third school that flooded is ready to bid — if the school district can find the funds for it.
The project at Lake Elementary, closed since last August, is ready to go out to bid, Director of Planning and Construction Chad Lynch told the School Board at a non-voting meeting Tuesday, but, he said, "We don't have a funding source yet."
State law requires that public entities must have funding budgeted before it can advertise for bids for a project.
The school district in recent months began restoration on St. Amant Primary, a $3.5 million project, while it waits to learn if the Federal Emergency Management Agency will approve grant money for reimbursement.
A $1.3 million project to repair St. Amant Middle, on the same campus as the primary school, is also underway, again without word yet on FEMA money. The middle school remained open last school year, despite its damage.
Last month, a FEMA spokesman said allocations on both of those school projects should be made some time in July.
The restoration project at Lake Elementary, for which FEMA has not yet allocated funds, is expected to cost $6.7 million, Lynch said Tuesday.
"Lake Elementary is ready to bid, but we don't have $6.7 million behind us yet," he said.
The school district will need to decide "how far do we stick our neck out," Lynch said.
"The message here is that we have projects ready to bid, with no funding," said Todd Mann, project manager with CSRS, the school district's flood recovery consultant.
Superintendent David Alexander has a formal request in hand, made recently by CSRS, on whether funding is available for the Lake Elementary project, Mann said.
Alexander, who is attending a school-related conference in Tennessee this week, will be bringing a recommendation on the funding issue to the board.
CSRS has estimated that total restoration costs for flood damage in the Ascension Parish school district come to approximately $108 million.
Taking into account optimum FEMA reimbursements, flood insurance, donations and other possible forms of funding, the school district's share of the costs is expected to be in the $25 million to $28 million range.