Lafayette School Board OKs funds

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Anjoli Morel helps her son, Harper Morel, 3, Thursday while playing in Foster Park in Youngsville. The land that makes up Foster Park is set to be donated to the adjacent Green T. Lindon Elementary School for its campus expansion.
Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Anjoli Morel helps her son, Harper Morel, 3, Thursday while playing in Foster Park in Youngsville. The land that makes up Foster Park is set to be donated to the adjacent Green T. Lindon Elementary School for its campus expansion.

After the Lafayette Parish School Board on Wednesday approved spending $30 million in bonds at six schools, the district’s staff began creating a timeline Thursday to queue up the projects, said Kyle Bordelon, district facilities director.

Some of the work can begin early next year, while others will need to wait until summer when students are off campus, Bordelon said.

The board’s approval on the spending plan means the bonds can now be sold, and the board will be asked to approve a purchase agreement at its Dec. 12 meeting, said Matt Dugas, district finance director.

“We’re thinking we’ll receive the funds sometime in January,” Dugas said.

The projects include major construction such as expansions planned for David Thiboddaux STEM Magnet Academy, Green T. Lindon Elementary and Youngsville Middle School. Other major building improvements will be made at L.J. Alleman Middle, where a new cafeteria will be constructed and the old cafeteria renovated for use as an auditorium for the performing arts academy housed there. Major renovations are scheduled for Lafayette and Northside high schools.

Projects will be scheduled based on the type of work needed and whether it can be done while classes are in session, Bordelon said.

“We don’t want to disrupt classes,” Bordelon said. “As an example, at Northside High, we’d rather not replace windows during the course of the school year because obviously that will be disruptive to classes.”

Bordelon said expansions at Thibodaux, Lindon and Youngsville could begin while school is still in session.

A new classroom wing at Lindon will be constructed at a park — and away from the current campus. The park will be donated to the School Board by a local development company.

“We’re working on that donation right now,” he said.

Architects assigned to the Thibodaux and Lindon projects plan to work on construction documents, which brings those two expansions closer to bid for a contractor, Bordelon said.

On Wednesday, the School Board approved the advertisement for an architect for the Youngsville Middle project.

The Youngsville projects were pushed by Youngsville Mayor Wilson Viator who visited the board over the summer to request that the board address overcrowded classrooms in his city’s schools.

Board member Mark Allen Babineaux voted to support funding the six projects, but not without publicly reminding Youngsville voters that they did not support a proposed property tax for a $560 million bond issue in 2011 that would have funded major school construction and improvements Youngsville and across the district.

Babineaux said it was “ironic that the Youngsville community rejected all that and at the same time is asking for all this money.”

More than $14 million in bonds will be spent in Youngsville, according to cost estimates.

“The reason why our people didn’t vote for the tax is because they don’t see that they’re getting anything from their money,” Viator said. “We lead the parish in sales and property tax, and the money wasn’t being spent here. By coming here and putting these improvements in these two schools, if they have to go back to voters — and I know they will because they’re going to need some more dollars — I think the vote will be different this time around.”

A list of some of the projects approved by the board Wednesday with cost estimates are: