Lafayette schools look for ways to fund improvements

The price tag to align the Lafayette school district’s facility needs with its educational turnaround plan is about $384 million, according to a report from architects involved with the development of the district’s master facilities plan.

The cost breaks down to $307.2 million in facility projects with $76.8 million set aside for contingencies.

Superintendent Pat Cooper presented the report Monday to the district’s Community Education Plan Committee, which includes volunteers who have been meeting since March. Their mission is to align the educational and facility needs of the district and find a way to pay for it.

The master plan approved by the School Board in 2010 identified more than $1 billion in facility needs and its first phase of projects totaled about $560 million. In October 2011, voters rejected a bond issue funded by a property tax increase to pay for the first phase.

The updated list presented Monday doesn’t include all projects in the first phase of the master plan, just those “necessary facilities improvement projects that will have direct impact on the success of the Turnaround Plan,” according to the 2010 report.

The turnaround plan lays out six years of initiatives and programs.

The list also includes projects identified by principals last year as improvements that would help them meet the goals in the turnaround plan.

“It’s certainly not a final document. It’s our first look,” Cooper said of the project list.

He called the $384 million price tag “fairly conservative.”

The committee has discussed the potential of a separate sales tax and property tax proposals — one tax dedicated to facilities and the other for educational programs. An estimated $16 million is needed annually to implement the turnaround plan.

“I think the $384 million would really do the job … and that’s about $200 million less than what the original bond issue was,” Cooper said.

District staff will present potential taxing scenarios at the committee’s next meeting scheduled Sept. 23. The group will devise its recommendation at its Oct. 28 meeting.