Livingston — The Livingston Parish School Board is asking Albany-area voters to shoulder a new property tax to raise up to $13.4 million for a new elementary school and for improvements to other campuses.
If approved, property taxes in the Albany district would increase by 43.5 mills in the first year, according to a proposition that passed unanimously at Thursday night’s School Board meeting, minus absent members Karen Schmitt and Kellee Hennessy. The tax would be collected for a maximum of 20 years.
Board member Sid Kinchen, who represents the area, said a new elementary school is necessary to relieve cramped conditions at the existing campuses in Albany. While about half the money would fund its construction, the rest would pay for upgrades at the current campuses, he said.
“We need a new elementary school,” Kinchen said. “We’re just busting at the seams like everybody else.”
The board scheduled the matter to go before voters on April 9, which also happens to be election day for a tax to fund a new high school in the nearby Springfield district, though the issues are separate, and the district lines don’t overlap.
If voters in the Albany district approve the tax, the new elementary school would be built on 13 acres on La. 43 about 1 ½ miles north of Albany on property the district bought a year or two ago, Kinchen said. He expects room for about 600 students. The plan is to open it to prekindergarten through second grade, which could cause some grade levels to shift at the other district schools, though Kinchen said nothing is written in stone.
If the tax passes and construction moves swiftly, Kinchen said, the school could be ready as early as fall 2018.
The new school is expected to cost between $6 million and $7 million. The other major projects would include $3 million for a new gym at Albany Middle School, which uses the old elementary school facilities, as well as $1.5 million to $2 million for a classroom expansion at the high school, where some classes are being held in temporary buildings. Kinchen expects about eight classrooms could be added should the tax pass.
Much of the rest of the money would go toward a new library at the existing upper elementary school. Kinchen didn’t immediately offer specific details Thursday but said he would especially like to invest in technology and computers for students to use.
Attorney David Henderson said the Albany district is debt-free and explained that a bonding district may issue bonds for 35 percent of the total assessed value of property. Based on Albany’s numbers, they are planning to issue bonds near the total allowable amount, though a “couple hundred thousand” dollars less than the maximum.
In other business Thursday night, the board appointed Kristine Rountree to take over as principal at the Holden School.
Follow Steve Hardy on Twitter, @SteveRHardy.