Iberia Parish facing school tax renewal vote Oct. 19

Iberia Parish voters will decide in an Oct. 19 election whether to renew a 21.9 millage rate to fund $50 million in major technology and renovations for parish public schools for the next four years.

The $50 million bond issue will cover projects at every school, with $5 million of the funds dedicated to technology upgrades to ensure the district is ready for state required online assessments, according to Iberia Parish school Superintendent Dale Henderson.

The online assessments, called Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, are to take effect by spring 2015, he said.

The bond issue also will enable the district to address growth in the part of the parish north of Bayou Teche with the construction of an elementary school, Henderson said.

During the past 30 years, the School Board has strategically planned its bond issues in smaller chunks of money — $45 million to $65 million — to target needs in the district, Henderson said.

“The board planned very carefully and has approached (projects) in chunks like this,” he said. “It’s hard to eat the elephant. It’s easier to eat it one chunk at a time.”

A comprehensive list of the planned projects is posted on the district’s website, http://www.iberia.k12.la.us.

In addition to the new school, New Iberia Senior High and Westgate High are on the list to get new stadiums.

The two high schools, both in New Iberia, share Lloyd G. Porter Stadium behind the old New Iberia Senior High.

The project list also includes surveillance cameras for every elementary school campus, the career center and the district’s alternative school.

“This is another opportunity to address technology, safety and security and the modernization of our schools,” Henderson said.

Voters approved a $60 million bond issue for school improvements in 2009 for projects that included two new elementary schools, a 10-classroom building at the career center, outdoor pavilions for elementary schools, new support service buildings for food service, print shop, maintenance and special education, security renovations on campuses including metal detectors for middle and high schools and bus surveillance cameras, auditorium remodeling at New Iberia Senior High and Westgate High, elementary school renovations and upgrades of the intercom and telephone systems.

Only a few projects remain unfinished on the 2009 bond list, but they should be complete within the next few weeks, Henderson said.

“Without community support, you can’t accomplish these things,” he said.