Lafayette School Board OKs $1 million toward SLCC building

Lafayette to get wing for high school

South Louisiana Community College is now $1 million away from securing the $2 million match it needs for construction of a new building on its Devalcourt Street campus in 2015.

The state approved the $17 million project as part of a construction package for the Louisiana Community and Technical College System with the caveat the institutions raise a percentage of construction costs. For SLCC, that amount translated to about $2 million.

SLCC Chancellor Natalie Harder reached out to the Lafayette Parish School Board for $1 million and to the Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority for the remaining $1 million, a request that’s still pending.

On Wednesday, the School Board voted 8-0 to give the college $1 million toward construction, and in exchange, students in the school system’s Early College Academy housed at SLCC will get a dedicated wing in the new building.

The district and college started the Early College Academy in August 2008 to offer high school students the chance to earn an associate’s degree in tandem with their diploma. The high school, located in the college’s main academic building on Devalcourt Street, has long been cramped for space for its own students.

Construction of the new health and sciences building won’t begin until 2015, so the payments from the School Board will be made in two installments — one in 2014 and the other in 2015.

The first $500,000 payment will come from a recent settlement related to water intrusion damage at the former N.P. Moss Middle School, said Billy Guidry, the school district’s chief financial officer.

Guidry said the second installment could be paid from excess sales tax revenues.

Harder said the college is also pursuing other funding sources, noting that the Lafayette Economic Development Authority has committed $210,000.

Meanwhile, the Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority has requested information from Harder about the School Board’s decision Wednesday, she said by email Friday.

The college doesn’t need the money in hand now, but Harder said she wants to secure commitments before the end of the calendar year to ensure the project stays on track for a 2015 start date.