East Feliciana board borrows AC repair money

The East Feliciana Parish School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to issue $750,000 in bonds to pay for heating and air conditioning control systems at the parish’s high school and middle school.

The 10-year bonds will be repaid from the proceeds of a 3.34-mill property tax the state constitution authorizes the board to collect, bond attorney David Henderson said. Whitney Bank offered to buy the bonds for an interest rate of 2.34 percent.

The cash-strapped board has been struggling in recent years to repair the heating and cooling systems at its largest buildings and replaced “chillers” in the units several years ago.

Maintenance Supervisor James Bell said the systems “are pretty much running wild,” however, because the controls and air handlers are not working properly.

The maintenance staff has made some adjustments to the systems to make them operate more efficiently, but new controls will finish the job, Bell said.

The board will pay back $820,000 in principal and interest over the 10 years, board member Beth Dawson noted.

Other topics before the board included:

TOBACCO FUND: Board members voted to withdraw $419,805 from a special education fund administered by the state treasurer from the proceeds of a state settlement of litigation with tobacco companies, but member Richard Terrell voted against the move and Mitch Harrell said he agreed “reluctantly.”

Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. said the money is needed to meet the parish’s 25 percent match for a federal literacy grant this year and to get the parish schools ready for the new Common Core curriculum that will be fully implemented in the 2014-15 school year.

Board President Michael Bradford commended Lewis for coming up with a spending plan to meet the state mandates.

“We wanted him to be aggressive, and that’s what he’s doing to move this parish forward,” Bradford said.

Harrell said he had reservations about using the tobacco money.

“Those funds were for emergency purposes,” he said.

PRINCIPALS NAMED: Lewis introduced East Feliciana High School’s new principal, Monique Montgomery, and the board later approved a personnel roster for the new school year that includes other school leaders.

Keisha Netterville will lead the middle school, Megan Phillips and Kim Glascock return as principals at Jackson and Slaughter elementaries, respectively, and Thelemese Porter will be Clinton Elementary’s new principal.