Of the Louisiana school districts affected by the floods, Livingston Parish is reporting the most public school damage so far, with about half its schools likely taking on water.
Superintendent Rick Wentzel said Tuesday that 15 of its 46 school sites sustained major or minor flood damage and another eight schools likely have damage but they are inaccessible. The schools with the most damage, he said, are in Denham Springs.
But there were surprises.
“Some that I thought took a hard hit, but it wasn’t as bad as we thought,” Wentzel said.
A total of 118 of its 318 school buses also sustained water damage, but some of those waterlogged buses may be repairable, Wentzel said.
East Baton Rouge Parish public schools announced that six schools are so flood-damaged they will not reopen when the district’s other schools reopen, likely sometime next week. The six schools are Park Forest Middle and five elementaries: Glen Oaks Park, Greenbrier, Howell Park, Park Forest and Twin Oaks. These schools collectively have about 3,500 students.
Spokeswoman Adonica Duggan said the school district later this week will announce relocation plans for those displaced students. She said the district is looking at a handful of possible scenarios. The largest and most difficult school will be Park Forest Middle, which has about 850 students.
Duggan said three more schools took on water and eight more sustained other weather-related damage, mostly roof leaks, but that damage is not serious enough to derail their reopening. The most serious is Glen Oaks High School, which was submerged in floodwaters. Duggan, however, said school officials think they can fix enough of the large campus by next week to have it ready for students.
Like Wentzel, Duggan said several schools were in neighborhoods that flooded but the schools are fine.
“We looked at some of those schools and thought for sure that schools were under water, but they weren’t,” she said.
Schools, both public and private, throughout the Baton Rouge area have either taken on water…
As many as 29 parishes have been forced to close schools due to flooding, according to the state Department of Education.
School systems in East Baton Rouge, Central, Zachary and Livingston have announced they are closed indefinitely.
Leaders in East Baton Rouge and Zachary are looking to reopen their schools some time next week. Both say a key uncertainty is whether and how quickly they can get food to serve breakfast and lunch.
Zachary Superintendent Scott Devillier said none of its schools had flooding. A few have minor roof damage, the worst a sizeable leak over the gym lobby at Zachary High School.
Central and Livingston leaders say they are not ready to guess at a reopening date.
In Central, only one of its five schools, Tanglewood Elementary, sustained significant water damage. Superintendent Michael Faulk said the main problem in Central is that 60 percent of his employees had flood damage to their homes.
“With the number of people and employees displaced, it’s going to be tough to put a date on when,” Faulk said. “I’m going to have folks out a month, six weeks, two months.”
Shut down through the end of the week, and likely longer, are the Ascension, Lafayette and Tangipahoa school districts, all of which have heavy flood damage.
Jackie Tisdell, Ascension Parish’s public information officer, said they’ve been able to confirm via security cameras that five schools were flooded: APPLe Digital Academy in Darrow, Galvez Middle and Galvez Primary in Prairieville, and Lake Elementary and St. Amant High School in St. Amant.
Tisdell said they haven’t been able to visit some schools because they are still surrounded by water.
"We have had our maintenance crews that have been surveying the schools every day since this happened,” Tisdell said. "We could have more schools impacted.”
Two Catholic schools took in floodwater to the point their reopening dates are uncertain: the new Cristo Rey Franciscan High School in Baton Rouge and St. Alphonsus Catholic School in Central.
All but eight of the Catholic schools in the Diocese of Baton Rouge plan to reopen to between now and Monday, according to a list posted Tuesday on the diocesan website.
The City of Baker has announced tentative plans to reopen school on Thursday, despite Baker High School taking on some water over the weekend. Superintendent Herman Brister Sr. said he will finalize reopening plans by Wednesday morning.
A couple of other private schools in Baton Rouge are reporting flood damage.
Runnels School announced on Facebook that it plans to bring in temporary buildings so it can resume school at its flood-damaged main campus on South Harrell’s Ferry Road.
Episcopal High School announced Monday on YouTube that 80 percent of its classrooms at Woodland Ridge Boulevard were untouched by flooding and that the private school plans to be ready to reopen by Monday.