BAKER — Plans are moving forward on securing funds to renovate and rebuild Baker High School as well as grants for other school district projects, Bridgette Coleman of Coleman Consulting Group LLC told the Baker School Board on Tuesday.

The district is in the closeout phase on $5 million it is seeking from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help pay for rebuilding Baker High, which was damaged during the 2016 flood.

Since the flood, the high school students have been attending classes at Baker Middle. Middle school students occupy Bakerfield Elementary’s campus and Bakerfield and Baker Heights share the Baker Heights campus.

Coleman said the "closeout phase” means that project work sheets that the district submitted to FEMA have been approved and the money is being held for the school board by the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

The funds will be released to the district when the district signs a construction contract for the work on the high school, she said.

That process cannot be completed until Baker schools’ loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is finalized.

In September, USDA approved two loans for the district, one for $7 million and another for $7.6 million; however, finalization requires a paperwork review.

As part of the review, the board voted unanimously Tuesday to allow school board attorney Winston DeCuir to contract with Commerce Title for a title opinion on the district’s five schools.

Though the loan only requires a title opinion for Baker High, the district decided to have all the titles examined as a precautionary measure, DeCuir said.

The cost of the title opinion will depend on the amount of time Commerce will need to complete the task, he said.

Coleman also told the board the district is applying for a $2,500 grant from the Junior League of Baton Rouge for its elementary schools, and is attempting to secure support from Raising Cane’s in Zachary to help with football expenses and possibly other items.

Coleman further said she and her husband are donating seven digital time clocks to the school district.

The board agreed to hire Coleman Consulting in July for a fee not to exceed $50,000 for a period of no more than 12 months. At that time, DeCuir said the length and amount of the contract allowed the district to avoid submitting a request for proposals under state law.

Coleman confirmed Tuesday night that her contract states she will be paid $49,000 over 11 months for acting as grants manager for the district.

In other business:

  • District Rising Educators sponsors David Grisby and De’Ette Perry told the board about a chapter of the organization being started in Baker Schools. The organization will offer classes and support to students interested in pursuing a career in education.
  • Board member Joyce Burges reported that she is working with teachers and staff at Baker Middle to create a closet where students can receive new uniforms, hygiene products, school supplies, and snacks free of charge.
  • The board voted unanimously to change its next meeting to Jan. 14.