NEW ROADS — The Pointe Coupee Parish School Board is hoping to recoup nearly $1.9 million from the state’s Recovery School District for much-needed repairs at Pointe Coupee Central High School, the site of the district’s proposed Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Arts Academy.
And the board is hoping the federal judge overseeing the decadeslong desegregation case that reverted control of Central High to the school district will hold RSD accountable for the repair work officials said they agreed to do before relinquishing control of the campus.
“The federal judge said he would do what needs to be done to get them to pay,” attorney Bob Hammonds told the School Board on Thursday.
Central High was shut down in March for the 2014-15 school year by U.S. District Judge James J. Brady.
The state’s Recovery School District, which ran the school for six years, asked the court in March to return jurisdiction of the school to the parish school system after the state failed to improve the school’s academic performance.
Students who were attending Central High were transferred this fall to Livonia High School.
The board on Thursday ended up tabling a decision to begin the work on a laundry list of repairs at the Central campus while they prioritize the list, pushing much-needed repairs to the forefront so they can proceed with the STEM Academy proposal.
The academy is modeled after successful programs Pointe Coupee school officials have seen in Lafayette and Iberville parishes.
The school district’s plan for Central has to ensure that a racial balance can be achieved at the school because the matter is linked to the desegregation case.
The district is now waiting for Brady to approve the plan.
Donald Fuselier, the school district’s director of support services, told the board that Central High’s air conditioning system and boiler would have to be replaced before any students could set foot on the campus.
Those repairs will cost about $700,000, he added.
According to a Jan. 16 memo from an architecture firm that did a walk-through of the campus earlier this year, the School Board had gotten RSD to agree to pay for any repairs the campus needed before it returned control to Pointe Coupee Parish.
“We’ve tried to make contact; we’ve sent information back and forth, but we haven’t gotten a response,” Fuselier said Thursday. “They turned in the keys and walked out, and we never heard from them since.”
“I don’t think we’ll get any more cooperation from the state,” board member Chad Aguillard said. “I think we need to do whatever we need to do in federal court to get compensated.”
The board has set a special meeting for Jan. 8, when it will likely make a decision about the repairs. Meanwhile, Hammonds told the board he is prepared to file the necessary motions in federal court regarding RSD’s commitment to repay the school district.
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