The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board on Thursday moved forward with the rebuilding of Broadmoor Elementary School, advancing it to the front of the line for new school construction.
Also on Thursday, the board selected Cox Communications as its sole provider of phone service. The cost of phone service for the school system is estimated to shrink from $588,000 a year to no more than $312,000 a year. Until now, AT&T has provided the lion’s share of phone service in the school system via landlines. Cox provides 181 phone lists, or about 12 percent of the phone service in the schools.
Thursday’s vote on Broadmoor Elementary allows school officials to start the process of hiring an architect. The target opening date is August 2018. The neighborhood elementary school will be demolished and rebuilt at its current location, 9650 Goodwood Blvd., over a two-year period. During that time, its students will take classes at another location, likely the old Valley Park Junior High, 4510 Bawell St.
A handful of other projects are coming up quickly behind Broadmoor.
The board on March 3 plans to consider green-lighting the designing of a new career academy known as Ardendale in the Melrose East neighborhood and will also hear the latest plans for reopening Istrouma High, which was closed in 2014 and which the school system regained control of in January. The plan is to open Ardendale and Istrouma in fall 2017.
The advancing of Broadmoor Elementary pushes back the planned rebuilding of Park Elementary. Further down the road is a planned new school in the Jefferson Terrace area.
These projects are funded via a Tax Plan voters approved in spring 2008 when they renewed a 1-cent sales tax. About 40 percent of that sales tax pays for most school construction in the parish.
Schools Superintendent Warren Drake is largely drawing on that same pool of money for Istrouma, as well.
At a January School Board retreat, the superintendent floated the idea of downscaling Ardendale and Park Elementary to finance the $17 million to $20 million he says is needed to modernize Istrouma High. On Thursday, though, he said he’s changed his mind and will preserve the $17 million dedicated to Ardendale and is considering tapping instead some money set out for smaller renovations.
The school system recently solicited proposals from companies that would allow the school system to drop landlines in favor of VOIP, short for “voice over internet protocol.” In landing the job, Cox beat out not only AT&T but also Hunt Telecom, AGG Networks and Martin Communications.
A five-member evaluation team rated Cox best in offering phone service over the internet. That was despite Hunt Telecom, of Metairie, offering the lowest price. Chief Technology Officer Richard Ellis explained that Cox stood out over Hunt in being able to handle multiple service requests quickly, speedy recovery of service during emergencies and in not relying on AT&T for things such as the use of high-speed T-1 lines.