NEW ROADS — The Pointe Coupee Parish School Board on Thursday agreed to seek State Bond Commission authority to borrow up to $1 million to pay for repairs at Pointe Coupee Central High School.
Meanwhile, board members expressed concerns about being able to open the now-closed campus by this fall as the district’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Arts Academy.
“This will be presented to the state Bond Commission next month, (but) it doesn’t mean definitely we’ll get the money to do the repairs,” Chief Financial Officer Stephen Langlois said. “This just means this is an option for us if the Bond Commission approves it.”
Langlois said that if the commission approves the board’s request, the board wouldn’t be able to borrow the money until early April.
The board is faced with the dilemma of paying for nearly $1.9 million worth of repairs at Central, which closed in March for the 2014-15 school year at the request of the state’s Recovery School District.
RSD, which ran the school for six years, asked a U.S. District Court judge to return jurisdiction of the school to the school district after the state failed to improve the school’s academic performance.
Students who were attending Central High were transferred in fall 2014 to Livonia High School.
As part of the judge’s ruling in the matter, the school district must present to the court a proposal outlining the future of the campus.
That plan, from School Superintendent Linda D’Amico, involves transforming the campus into a STEM academy modeled after the programs in Lafayette and Iberville parishes.
The list of repairs the campus needs presented a new challenge for the board after representatives from the architectural firm handling the project told the board Thursday that the bond approval process would probably hinder them from completing the work by Aug. 1.
Another obstacle is getting D’Amico’s STEM proposal approved by the court in time. D’Amico is still finalizing supplemental information Judge James J. Brady requested.
“I feel strongly we need to get the school up and running for this fall,” board member Les Ann Grezaffi said. “I’d like to find out how much money we have that we could allocate for this until we get the other money in place.”
Langlois said the district has enough money to get the design work started.
Grezaffi also asked for an update on getting RSD to reimburse the district for the repair work — something RSD had agreed to do before tossing control back to the School Board but school officials say never happened.
“I received an email this afternoon from RSD that they want to sit down and talk to the board,” board President Frank Aguillard said. “We’re a long ways apart from getting the money we think, as a board, we should get.”
D’Amico added, “We may have to sue the state, which is going to take a long time.”
The board will revisit the issues at its Jan. 22 meeting.