It was expected to vote on whether to give preliminary approval to a bond issue of up to $50 million for proposed capital improvements, but the Jefferson Parish School Board could not take any action on the measure at a special meeting Thursday afternoon because not enough members showed up.
Notice of the meeting went out Wednesday afternoon, and School Board President Cedric Floyd said five members had indicated they could make it, but only four were present: Floyd, Melinda Bourgeois, Melinda Doucet and Marion “Coach” Bonura.
Sandy Denapolis-Bosarge also had indicated she would be able to make the gathering, but she did not show up, leaving the board without a quorum.
Denapolis-Bosarge said later that a stomach illness prevented her from attending. “I would like to have some more time to absorb all of the information presented about 24 hours ago ... before the meeting, but that isn’t why I couldn’t come,” she said by telephone. “I physically couldn’t make it.”
Had it been approved, the resolution on the table for Thursday’s meeting would have authorized the Jefferson Parish Public School System to apply to the State Bond Commission for permission to sell the bonds.
The resolution said the annual interest rate for any bonds sold would not exceed 6 percent and they would mature in no more than 20 years. The current market interest rate for this type of bond issue is about 3 percent.
The bonds would be backed by the board’s existing sales tax.
The board likely will try to take action on the resolution at another special meeting before March 17. That date is tied to an agenda deadline ahead of a Bond Commission meeting on April 16.
Floyd said the first special meeting was called for Thursday because he wanted the issue to be considered at the Bond Commission’s meeting on March 19.
Floyd said he also took into consideration the work schedule of bond attorney Grant Schlueter, of the firm Foley & Judell.
During discussion at Thursday’s unofficial meeting, Schlueter said the School Board still has prior approval to sell $27.5 million in bonds. That was part of an earlier $50 million issue, from which the board has sold only $22.5 million.
Money raised from the sale of those bonds was meant for capital improvements in general but has been earmarked primarily for technology. Officials said they anticipate they soon will sell the remaining bonds.
That would leave about $128 million worth of capital projects that the School Board is hoping to finance in part with the new $50 million bond issue.
Many of the projects on the list with seven-figure price tags involve the construction of new classroom buildings at various schools.
A couple of other projects involve demolishing portable classrooms and replacing them with permanent ones. The School Board already has approved one such project, at Ruppel Academy, according to a document supplied for Thursday’s meeting.
Other seven-figure projects call for repair of the foundations of two buildings at John Ehret High School and renovations to support educational programs such as the culinary arts and the film industry at Cuillier Career Center.
The most ambitious project proposed is the construction of a new elementary school — to the tune of $22.5 million.
The capital improvements are ranked in order of priority. Those that address life safety issues and ensure compliance with law or building codes receive the highest priority. Those that create recurring cost savings or improve appearance and convenience are ranked lower.