ST. FRANCISVILLE — The West Feliciana Parish School Board approved a big-ticket maintenance project Tuesday and learned that another project is looming this fiscal year.
The board approved a $98,000 contract with Spinks Construction Inc. of St. Francisville to address an erosion problem at West Feliciana Middle School related to two drainage pipes buried deep beneath the school grounds.
Maintenance Supervisor Lee Hammer and contractor James "Trey" Spinks said the concrete pipes, buried 9 to 12 feet underground, are leaking and undermining the soil around them. Because of their depth, the company will have to bring in special equipment to prevent cave-ins when the pipes are uncovered and grouted.
A sinkhole has developed around a catch basin in the drainage system.
Board members discussed the possibility of delaying the work to avoid endangering students but eventually decided to put up fencing and take other steps to keep students away from the job site.
The School Board also approved several budget revisions, including a $104,000 general fund expense change to replace the fire alarm system at the high school, which was originally installed when the school was built some 40 years ago.
Hammer said all of the original wiring in the school's buildings will have to be ripped out and replaced to meet current fire codes.
Superintendent Hollis Milton noted that the budget for the school year that ended June 30 was expected to have a sizable deficit, but said school administrators worked hard all last year to reduce the amount.
As a result, the school system ended the 2016-17 fiscal year with about a $15,000 surplus, Milton said, adding that he hopes to end this year with a balanced budget.
On another matter, Milton reported that the old St. Francisville High School site, now sometimes called the Pecan Grove property, recently appraised for nearly $1.4 million.
The St. Francisville Area Foundation has proposed combining the school site and adjacent property for sale to a developer interested in creating a mixed-use development of residential and retail components.
Milton said the board has three options to consider: selling the land through sealed bids, selling in a public auction or hiring a licensed real estate broker to negotiate a sale.
The board can set the minimum percentage of the appraised value that it will accept, including more than 100 percent, but the first round of bidders would have to offer at least 85 percent of the appraisal, Milton said.
Milton asked board members to declare the property surplus to the school system's needs when they meet Dec. 19, with a possible target date of Jan. 16 to choose one of the three sales options.