The Jefferson Parish Public School Board will meet at 2:15 p.m. Thursday to discuss whether to give preliminary approval to a sales tax bond issue of up to $50 million that would be used toward more than $128 million of proposed capital improvements.
The School Board gave notice of the special meeting on Wednesday. It will be at the School Board’s administration building at 501 Manhattan Blvd. in Harvey.
If the board approves the resolution on the table Thursday, it would authorize the Jefferson school system to apply for permission to sell the bonds from a state commission in Baton Rouge that authorizes such things. As introduced, the resolution says the annual interest rate for bonds would not exceed six percent, and they will mature in no more than 20 years. The current market interest rate for this type of bond issue is about three percent.
To assist in the application for and the selling of the bonds, the School Board is proposing to hire the firm Foley & Judell in New Orleans. Fees for Foley & Judell would partially be based on the amount of the bonds sold, the School Board resolution says.
The resolution says the School Board anticipates paying for some capital improvements as well as part of the bond issue out of the system’s general fund. The board’s resolution says the panel would try to reimburse the general fund within 18 months of any such expenditures from the proceeds of any bond sales.
Items on a list of $135 million capital improvements provided ahead of the meeting vary in nature and scale. School Board President Cedric Floyd said a more updated list equates to about $128 million.
Many of those projects on the list with seven-figure price tags involve the construction of new classroom buildings at various schools, among them Riviere, Woods, Boudreaux, Gretna Park and Keller elementary schools.
Similarly, a couple of projects involve demolishing portable classrooms and replacing them with a building of permanent ones. The School Board has already approved one such project, at Ruppel Academy, according to documents attached to Thursday’s resolution. Another seven-figure project calls for the assessment and repair of the foundations of two buildings at John Ehret High School. Still another calls for renovations to support educational programs such as the culinary arts and the films 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.
Capital improvements are ranked in order of priority. Those that address life safety issues and ensure compliance with law or building code receive the highest priority, Thursday’s resolution says. Those that create recurring cost savings or improve appearance and convenience receive the lowest.
NOTE: This post has been updated since it was first published to include updated information from early in the meeting.