E. Feliciana board offers church, land for sale

The East Feliciana Parish School Board has some land in Slaughter and a building in Clinton for sale as it struggles to keep its budget balanced.

The building is a former church, Christian Bible Fellowship, on Plank Road that the board agreed in late 2006 to buy for $1.3 million for use as an “early learning center” for pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and possibly other lower elementary grades.

In September 2008, the board declared that the building was no longer needed for educational purposes.

The undeveloped property is a 33-acre tract on La. 412 next to the Slaughter Post Office and east of La. 19. It was also purchased in 2006 for $350,000.

The board purchased the land at a time when then-Superintendent Glenn Brady promoted the idea of starting a charter school to keep more Slaughter students in the parish after they finish the sixth grade in the town.

Traditionally, many Slaughter students have opted to leave the parish or attend private schools, rather than transferring to parish schools in Jackson and Clinton. After buying the property, the board consolidated the Clinton and Jackson middle and high schools.

Parish residents opposed to consolidating the schools criticized the board for buying the church and Slaughter land, saying the purchases put the school system into the financial bind that consolidation was expected to solve.

School Board President Michael Bradford said the board wants to sell the properties because the school system needs the money.

“We need the money more than the property — a lot more,” Bradford said Monday.

The board’s advertisements for the former church say the 35,559-square foot building and site’s appraised value is $1.82 million. The appraised value for the land is given as $366,000.

Bradford and board Vice President Mitch Harrell said they are unaware if anyone has expressed an interest in either property.

Harrell is chairman of the board’s Building Committee, which recommended putting the property up for sale.

Harrell said the Clinton building is not needed, and a site survey of the Slaughter property showed extensive work would be needed to establish an entrance and exit for a school because La. 412 has a 90-degree curve in front of the property.

“There’s no one in Slaughter who would support a school right now,” Harrell added.

A School Board-affiliated charter school opened in August 2011 with grades seven and eight and added a ninth-grade class this school year in Slaughter. The school’s private board, however, elected to put its portable classroom buildings on some unused park property in the town.

The Clinton building has an auditorium and office area, a gym, attached school building and other space. The property has about 35,000 square feet of parking space.

The board voted last month to ask voters on April 6 to approve a new 38-mill property tax for the school system.