As it races to finalize a list of construction projects to be built over the next decade, the East Baton Rouge Parish school system is holding a final round of four community forums starting Tuesday night and concluding Feb. 6.
These are the last chances residents of the parish will have before Feb. 22 when the School Board plans to approve a final list that it will send to voters at an April 29 special election. On that day, voters will be asked to renew a 1-cent sales tax, about half of which goes to school construction.
Scotlandville, site of the first forum, is in line to receive $6 million in improvements to its athletic facilities.
East Baton Rouge Parish school officials have trimmed their school construction wish list for the next decade by $132 million as they prepare …
The price tag for all this construction was $413 million at last count, about $4 million under the $417 million that a 1-cent sales tax is expected to raise. If renewed, the tax would fund school construction between 2019 and 2029.
An in-house committee has been meeting since last summer to refine the list of projects, which school officials are calling the “tax plan.” First principals made suggestions, followed by members of the general public at six community forums that were held in the fall.
The school system has set up a special web page to allow residents to stay informed about the tax plan.
The latest project list was presented to the School Board Dec. 7, and it’s the third version to be circulated, though it has not been posted online. It calls for building or rebuilding eight schools, down from 15 initially proposed. Nine more schools are slated for major renovations while 11 are looking at minor renovations.
A fourth version of the list will be presented at the first forum Tuesday at Scotlandville High, said school district spokeswoman Taylor Gast.
Two of the major projects are plans to build a new K-8 school and a high school at an estimated price of $90 million at yet-to-be-determined locations in southeast Baton Rouge. In earlier versions, the plans were to build three schools in the area at greater expense: an elementary, a middle and a high school.
The list sparked a lot of debate. Three board members with districts in north Baton Rouge suggested that their areas are getting short-changed, and if that inequity is not addressed, it might jeopardize renewal of the 1-cent sales tax.
Indeed, only 12 percent of the money in the latest version is headed to schools north of Florida Boulevard, and more than half is slated to be spent on schools south of Interstate 10. Board members from south Baton Rouge counter that previous tax plans, going back to the first one approved in 1998, heavily favored north Baton Rouge and mid-city and now it’s time to expand school options for the fast growing areas south of I-10.
If you build it they will come, so the saying goes. That idea will be put to the test over the next decade in south Baton Rouge, where two sch…
Superintendent Warren Drake has repeatedly emphasized that the list is a work in progress and will continue to change right up to when the board votes Feb. 22.
One recent addition is Glen Oaks High, site of the second forum. The school system plans to ask voters to cover improvements, particularly to athletic facilities at the high school, that didn’t make into the $16 million worth of repairs to the flooded high schools approved Thursday.
The four upcoming forums, which all start at 6:30 p.m., are as follows:
- Tuesday at Scotlandville High, 9870 Scotland Ave.
- Thursday at Glen Oaks High, 6650 Cedar Grove Drive
- Tuesday, Jan. 30, at Broadmoor High, 10100 Goodwood Blvd.
- Tuesday, Feb. 6, at McKinley High, 800 East McKinley St.