Residents of Central will get a first look Tuesday night at potential major renovations to Central High School as the suburban Baton Rouge school district tries to firm up how it wants to modernize the 46-year-old high school.
“We’re going to try to paint a picture of what Central High can be,” said Superintendent Jason Fountain.
Community meetings at the high school are planned Tuesday and again on Dec. 4. They're scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. and expected to last 60 to 90 minutes.
Those attending will first tour the campus at 10200 E. Brookside Drive, with students stationed in different locations to answer questions.
After the tour, there’s a 30-minute presentation in the school’s theater laying out potential improvements and how they could be funded. Finally, short breakout sessions will be held where people can discuss and answer questions about what they heard.
“We’ve come up with some ideas of what we want to do, and we want to give people an opportunity to give feedback,” Fountain said.
“This is not set in stone in any form or fashion,” he added.
Since it became an independent school district in 2007, Central has built a new middle and intermediate schools and renovated Tanglewood Elementary.
Central has also made several improvements at its high school, including constructing a 500-seat freshman academy and improving parking, but the school is largely what it’s been for years.
Fountain was reluctant to say much about the proposed upgrades prior to Tuesday's community meeting. But he said they are looking at building a second gym and doing general upgrades throughout the campus, including improvements to the football stadium, career-technical education facilities and cafeteria.
The upgrades would be done over a period of a couple of years, the superintendent said.
“Essentially, we can make this a brand-new school,” Fountain said.
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For months, Fountain and the Central School Board’s Finance Committee have discussed the future of the high school. They commissioned a demographic study and an assessment of district facilities.
The analyses concluded that the high school has sufficient space to meet demand for another 10 to 12 years, Fountain said. That lessens the need to build a new high school soon.
The school system a few years ago acquired from the state the 175-acre former Greenwell Springs mental hospital site, a potential home for a future high school.
In any case, the school district plans to use the Brookside Drive campus for many years to come, even after a new high school is built, so improvements now won’t go to waste, Fountain said.
The Central school district is debating whether to keep its lone high school at its longtime home at 10200 Brookside Drive, or to build a new …
To pay for the improvements, the idea is to ask Central voters next year to renew taxes they first approved in 2009 for facility improvements. To do that, the Central School Board would have to approve a construction package by sometime in early 2020.
Fountain said the community meetings are meant to gauge people’s views on the topic before the board takes up the issue.