Baker school system buys old All Star Chevy property

The Baker school system has purchased the old All-Star Chevrolet property off Plank Road for its district offices, paying $1.1 million for the 3.4 acres, which contain three buildings.

“We don’t owe a penny on it and we won’t pay a penny of interest in it. We paid cash,” School Board President Dana Carpenter said Tuesday.

The board’s lease on its offices behind Whitney Bank on Ray Weiland Drive expires March 31

Clay Slagle, of engineering firm Volkert Inc., told the board that phase 1 of renovations will involve readying the main 7,000-square-foot building for 23 employees to move in.

The upgrades are expected to cost about $150,000, Superintendent Ulysses Joseph said after Tuesday’s board meeting.

Because the main building has been vacant for some time, moisture has damaged carpet, flooring and HVAC vents, which must be replaced, Slagle said.

A few walls also will be taken out, bathrooms upgraded and some painting will be done.

New data and voice communications systems, furniture and moving expenses were not included in the budget and will be added as needed, Joseph said.

Other business before the board included:

PERSONNEL: Board member Troy Watson questioned whether the board should be voting on the hiring, resignations and termination of district employees.

She referred to a letter from Louisiana Department of Education Assistant Superintendent of Talent Hannah Dietsch to St. Tammany Parish School Board President Elizabeth Heintz.

The letter states many school boards have been out of compliance on items in the Act 1 schools revamp law, which gives full authority to school superintendents to make personnel decisions.

The school district’s attorney, Winston DeCuir, countered since the passage of Act 1, the board has been only “voting to concur” with Joseph’s decisions regarding certified personnel such as teachers and principals.

DeCuir said this has been done to “be safe” in case the court ruling of Act 1 as unconstitutional is upheld. The state is appealing the ruling.

STUDENTS OF THE YEAR: The board recognized the 2013-14 students of the year — Reginald King, Park Ridge Academic Magnet; Fredrick Duncan, Baker Middle School; and Michael Bingham, Baker High School.