LAFAYETTE — While most Lafayette Parish public school students have been out of class since May, painters, custodians and others spent the summer preparing school buildings for what one principal called “an entire climate change.”
Floors have been stripped to remove years’ worth of wax to give a like-new sheen, hallways have been painted and restrooms have been scrubbed and rid of odor in time for the 2012-13 school year, which begins Friday.
“They have made a very big effort on the restrooms,” said Loretta Caldwell, principal of Paul Breaux Middle School. “The restrooms are 200 percent better.”
The overall summer spruce-up is part of a new and more efficient cleaning system designed to improve students’ learning environment and academic success, Superintendent Pat Cooper said Monday during a tour for School Board members and the media.
The tour included Paul Breaux Middle, Northside High, Carencro Middle and Alice Boucher Elementary. School Board members Shelton Cobb, Kermit Bouillion and Mark Allen Babineaux toured all four schools and board member Mark Cockerham joined the Boucher tour.
Caldwell led the group into the gym at Paul Breaux Middle, which houses the district’s middle school gifted program and foreign language immersion classes in French and Spanish, and pointed to a freshly painted cream-colored ceiling and rafters.
“I’ve been here 21 years and it was flaking then. It was going to be done 20 years ago and it got done two weeks ago,” she said.
At Carencro Middle, the floors had not been stripped for about eight years because of summer school programs held at the site, said Principal Russ Meyer, whose school houses the district’s biomedical academy.
Earlier this year, Cooper pushed custodial staff to work later in the day — initially at 11 schools — so more work would not disrupt students’ class time. The district also hired a consultant to help train custodians on new cleaning equipment and techniques.
While summer school cleaning typically involved cleaning floors and other routine preparations, painting was not always a priority before classes started, principals said Monday.
Not all schools were painted in time for the start of classes, Cooper said, but they will be painted this school year. “All of them are getting the clean-up treatment throughout the school,” he said.
All the painting was done “in-house” by the district’s painters, though outsourcing some of the major jobs, such as exterior painting at Northside High, was considered until the high school bid came in at about $200,000, Cooper said.
“We got our painters to do it for less than $100,000 for interior and exterior (painting),” he said.
Northside also received as new restrooms and new lighting and lockers were also removed to widen hallways as part of a more than $2 million overhaul in academics and facilities.
A few students stopped by Northside High Monday and were excited by the changes, said Principal Melinda Voorhies. “I think it’s going to make a huge impact because it’s an entire climate change,” she said.
At Alice Boucher Elementary, which houses the district’s World Languages Academy, Cooper said the district was prepared to “take you where you are now to an A school.” Boucher, J.W. Faulk Elementary and Northside were recently labeled as “academically unacceptable” schools based on Louisiana Department of Education accountability standards.
“We have confidence in you,” Cooper told the Boucher faculty.
“The school has a new look, but its best feature: “positive vibes,” said Boucher teacher Jodi Chadwick. “There’s an eagerness to be here and a lot of good energy. We’re ready to get started and move forward,” she said.