The room where the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board meets is about to get a makeover that could cost about $100,000, depending on the contractor quotes and how much can be done in-house.
The planned changes involved upgrading wiring, replacing the projection display screen with a digital LCD screen, new lighting, TV monitors in the hallways and installing a better sound system, as well as more cosmetic changes to the room, including recovering seats for the audience, new paint and carpet and replacing wall paneling with Sheetrock.
David Tatman, who served as board president for the past three years before handing over the reins Thursday to Barbara Freiberg, said he’s had discussions with school leaders on this topic for more than a year but hadn’t heard it all put together until Thursday. He said the changes are meant to improve public access, both for those in person as well as those watching on the Metro 21 government access TV channel, either live or via rebroadcasts.
Several of the changes are being done with TV in mind. For instance, the room will be painted a new color “more conducive to TV viewing,” Tatman said, and the new LCD screen is meant to make presentations and voting clearer to those watching.
Also, modernizing the wiring should help prevent recent drops in live broadcast, he said. “When that live feed goes out, you would be stunned the number of calls we get,” he said.
During construction in February and March, the board’s nine members will convene next door. The board is scheduled to have one more meeting at 1050 S. Foster, its regular meeting Jan. 21, before moving to the Instructional Resource Center, 1022 S. Foster Drive.
Earl Kern, program director for CSRS/Tillage Construction, which oversees most school construction for the district, said he plans to seek price quotes from contractors in late January and start work as soon as possible.
Richard Ellis, chief technology officer, said his office has worked to drive down its share of the cost by doing as much as possible in-house.
Freiberg said her only misgiving with the plans is that she wishes there were a way to add more seats.
“It is small. It doesn’t accommodate the number of people they need to accommodate,” she said.
Kern said the new TV monitors in the outside hallways will allow better viewing for those who can’t get a seat inside the board room.
“That will help with the overflow,” he said.