ST. FRANCISVILLE — The West Feliciana School Board approved contracts with two architectural firms to design a new elementary school to replace 56-year-old Bains Elementary and a freshman academy, as well as make improvements to West Feliciana High School.

Tuesday's vote was unanimous. In May, voters approved a $52.6 million bond issue to pay for the projects.

Tipton Associates will handle the architectural work for the high school, including the freshman academy, and Coleman Partners will be responsible for the new elementary school.

Both firms will be paid based on a percentage of the construction budget for each project. The fee is set by the state and is currently around 6 or 7 percent, Marco Gonzales, of Volkert Inc., said.

The board approved a contract with Volkert in May to serve as its program manager for the projects.

The architectural firms were given a construction budget of $31 million for the elementary school, $2.8 million for a new vocational and technical lab for the high school, $5.1 million for the freshman academy, and $500,000 for improvements to the high school auditorium.

Having different architectural firms working on the elementary and high schools makes it easier to keep the projects separate and ensure that each firm is focused on their project, Gonzales said.

The district wants to have students in the new elementary school and freshman academy by August 2022, which means construction must begin by August 2020, Gonzales told the board.

In July, the district purchased 42 acres for $850,000 near West Feliciana Middle School on which to build the new elementary school.

The district paid for the land with general fund surplus rather than including it in the bond.

Superintendent Hollis Milton said the West Feliciana Parish Council is expected to vote on Oct. 15 on changing the zoning of the land from residential to institutional.

The architects will begin by discussing specifications of the elementary school and freshman academy with the board and district officials, then draw site plans and floor plans and work on specific designs.

Last, the construction phase will begin with a call for bids from contractors, Gonzales said.

The school board must approve going forward at each stage of the design process.

In other business, the board will vote on Oct. 22 on whether to call an election on April 4, 2020, to renew the half cent sales tax for technology and foreign languages in schools and that is set to expire in June 2020, and to renew the 3.75-mill property tax that supports school employees’ salaries and benefits and which will expire in December 2021.

Placing both renewals on the same ballot would not change the dates that the renewed taxes would go into effect if they passed, Milton said.

The board also voted to adopt property tax rates for tax year 2019 at 39.76 mills, including the 5.8 mills to support the bond issue for the school improvements.