LUTCHER — Hurricane Isaac caused no catastrophic damage to St. James Parish public schools, but the district needs to spend $500,000 to $750,000 for storm repairs, an official said.
Jim Mitchell, administrative director of business services for the district, told School Board members Wednesday the Federal Emergency Management Agency would reimburse the district for at least 75 percent of eligible costs because the parish has been declared a disaster zone.
The storm’s only significant damage took place at Gramercy and 6th Ward elementary schools, where the roof caps on kitchen vent hoods were blown off the schools’ new roofing systems, allowing water into the schools’ kitchens.
Several inches of water also got into the Lutcher High School auditorium, ruining the carpet, which will need to be replaced, Mitchell said.
At St. James High School, excessive moisture from water intrusion and built-up condensation forced school officials to replace the carpet and stage curtains in the auditorium and the first floor ceiling tiles in the school’s main corridor, Mitchell said.
Water intrusion at the Science and Math Academy’s gifted classroom also caused damage, he said.
The carpet in that classroom was pulled up and will be replaced with tile, Mitchell said.
All damage has been repaired or was being fixed, Mitchell said.
The repair and recovery efforts initially will be funded through the School Board’s general fund before reimbursement, Mitchell said.
Other matters considered by the board on Tuesday included:
MILLAGE RATES SET: The School Board unanimously adopted a resolution to roll back its property tax from the maximum authorized rate of 45.06 mills to 43.96 mills in order to adjust for rising values, said Mitchell.
Even though the School Board has rolled back the millage rate for the past four years, the average collection per mill has continued to rise over that time due to the increase of the” total assessed valuation,” Mitchell said.
Since 2012 is a reassessment year, the roll-back rates become the maximum authorized millage rates.
SCHOOL SITES SOLD: The board accepted the single bid of $150,000 from area resident Tony Milazzo to purchase the former Vacherie Primary School site on the condition Milazzo keep the grass trimmed and the building maintained.
Board Member Richard Reulet Jr. said he did not want the property to look unkept or the site would revert back to the School Board as part of the contract.
The School Board also accepted the lone bid of $410,000 from St. James Stevedoring Inc., a bulk cargo river transport company, for the purchase of Romeville Elementary School with the contingency the community will have full use of the school’s gymnasium for local functions.
The two schools closed due to low enrollment, school officials have said.
PROPERTY ASSESSMENTS: St. James Parish Assessor Glenn Waguespack told the School Board the district will take in about $21.5 million in ad valorem taxes for the 2012 tax year.
That’s up from the $19 million in ad valorem taxes the assessor’s office had projected for 2012 because of an increase in oil inventories in the parish, Waguespack said.