The Ascension Parish School Board on Tuesday will be voting for a second time on whether its primary school in Donaldsonville should be moved, after a new board member said he was confused when he voted earlier this month for Donaldsonville Primary to stay where it is.
Board member Louis Lambert said he’d like to see the school have a new location built farther from CF Industries, which is a mile from the elementary school.
The issue came as the School Board looked at construction projects to consider if voters pass a new bond the board hopes to put on the ballot next year. New board member Robyn Penn Delaney has said a new Donaldsonville Primary should be on that list, for safety reasons.
When Donaldsonville Primary opened in 1986, CF Industries was already there, having been built in 1964.
The school, however, has never been affected by an industrial incident, and two reports from experts have said the school’s location on La. 3089 doesn’t pose a concern.
And the question of the school’s location has made the split on the School Board between some new and longtime board members more pronounced.
It had appeared the relocation matter was settled at the Aug. 4 meeting when board members voted 6-5 to keep the school at its longtime location on the parish’s west bank.
However, Lambert has asked the board revisit the issue at its meeting Tuesday night.
Lambert said Monday he thought he had voted for the item as it was worded on the Aug. 4 agenda: “Decision to close the current Donaldsonville Primary School and relocate it.”
However, the motion by longtime board member John Murphy was that Donaldsonville Primary remain in its current location.
Lambert said Monday he wants to see a new location for the primary school.
“It’s doing something for the children,” he said.
“Our board rules allow for a board member to call for the reconsideration of a vote if he/she was on the prevailing side of the vote,” said Jackie Tisdell, public information officer for the School Board.
Board members who voted two weeks ago against keeping the school where it is were Delaney and new board members Scott Duplechein, Julie Blouin and Shawn Sevario. Taft Kleinpeter who was on the previous board also voted against keeping the school where it is.
Voting to keep the school where it is were board members Murphy, Lorraine Wimberly, Kerry Diez, Troy Gautreau and Pat Russo, all of whom previously served on the board, and Lambert.
Lambert, a new member, now says that vote wasn’t what he intended.
If nobody else changes their vote but Lambert in this second go-around, it appears the question of keeping the school where it is would be defeated 6-5.
At committee meetings over the last month or so, Superintendent Patrice Pujol has asked the board to decide the issue and give direction to the district’s staff.
“We can’t proceed with the (project) list for the (proposed) 2016 bond” until the questions over Donaldsonville Primary are settled, she said.