The Lafayette Parish School Board officially committed to building a new high school in Youngsville with a unanimous vote Wednesday to construct the school for at least 1,750 students.
The board unanimously agreed to move forward with plans to build the high school, as well as more classrooms at Plantation Elementary, Katharine Drexel Elementary and Milton Elementary to alleviate overcrowding at Youngsville area schools.
The board also gave a unanimous vote to new Superintendent Don Aguillard’s administrative reorganization plan.
During a committee meeting last month, board members learned it could take about three years for a new high school to open in Youngsville. Aguillard told board members Wednesday that the next step is to advertise for an architect and then discussions on programming for the school can begin.
The estimated cost for the projects is $94 million and would be funded by phased bond sales over the next few years. The board unanimously approved the financing plan.
The estimated $65 million price tag for the high school construction doesn’t include outdoor athletic facilities, such as a stadium and ballfields.
Parent Ella Arsement questioned the expense of the athletic facilities, which she said likely would increase the eventual total investment to $100 million.
“I wonder how this will affect our other projects we have in this school system,” Arsement said.
The city of Youngsville has committed an estimated $750,000 in water and sewage infrastructure on the board-owned property for the high school, Youngsville Mayor Ken Ritter said.
“We want to work in conjunction with you and get the project done,” he said.
Following the vote, board member Tehmi Chassion acknowledged former board member Rae Trahan’s efforts to fight “tooth and nail” during her tenure to get a new school for Youngsville.
Also on Wednesday, the board approved Aguillard’s reorganization plan streamlining central office services. The plan eliminates the assistant superintendent job and divides those responsibilities between two new positions: the chief academic officer and chief administrative officer, who also will assume additional duties.
Also eliminated are the positions of director of academics, three academic officer positions, director of health and wellness, and supervisor of mental health services. In lieu of an academics director and academic officers who work directly with assigned schools, Aguillard’s plan creates a director of elementary schools and a director of middle and secondary schools. Another new position of district planning administrator also is part of the plan.
During Wednesday’s meeting, the board also rejected a charter school application from Kingdom Builders Community Development Corporation. The nonprofit requested to open a charter school that would be a career and technical high school. Board members Elroy Broussard and Mary Morrison voted against staff’s recommendation to reject the organization’s application to open the charter school. Chassion abstained. Justin Centanni, Britt Latiolais, Dawn Morris, Tommy Angelle, Erick Knezek and Jeremy Hidalgo voted to reject the application.
The board agreed to financing the purchase of 128 of its own buses through a $10 million bond sale rather than leasing the buses. That’s 512 new wheels to go round and round all over town at an estimated $1 million savings compared to the expense of continuing to lease the vehicles.
The board voted 7-1 to approve the bus purchase. Centanni abstained and Knezek was absent from the room for the vote.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.