Contractor chosen for St. Helena Central High project

The St. Helena Parish School Board named Ragusa Construction, of Independence, as the official contractor for renovations and additions at St. Helena Central High School.

The School Board held a special meeting Tuesday to award the bid in advance of a groundbreaking ceremony Friday for the high school project.

The board voted 5-0 to name Ragusa, the low bidder, as the official contractor. Board member Alton Travis was absent.

Five construction companies submitted bids for the project.

Ragusa’s base bid came in at $5.2 million.

St. Helena Parish is undertaking massive facility expansions and renovations at its high school and elementary school in an effort to boost both schools’ performances and make the district a more attractive education option, Superintendent Kelli Joseph has said.

Plans for the high school include building a new 12-classroom facility and a stadium.

Crews already have begun refurbishing an old technical college building near the campus for additional school space.

Plans for the elementary school, which are still being finalized, include a new eight-classroom facility, in addition to renovating the school’s cafeteria and existing classrooms.

Construction on the new high school building is expected to start in November, Joseph has said.

The money for the projects largely will come from $8 million in bonds voters approved in November and $6.1 million in sales tax revenue, according to a master plan for the facility’s renovations.

Coleman Partners Architects, of Baton Rouge, designed the project.

In other board business Tuesday:

CHANGE ORDER: The board approved a change order of about $24,000 for roof repairs at the nearby technical college.

Crews spent more money than originally budgeted on the roof because it had more wear than initially expected, said Clay Slagle, of Volkert, Inc., a construction consulting firm hired by the parish to help design the project.

The additional money came from contingency funds crews had set aside, Slagle said.

COMMON CORE: Board members were initially set to discuss the Common Core educational standards, but the board chose to table the discussion until all of its board members could attend a meeting to debate it.

The board will discuss Common Core at its next meeting Nov. 14.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a nationwide education movement that sets more rigorous standards with student-learning benchmarks for each grade.

Louisiana’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted in 2010 to adopt the standards, which are set to take full effect in the state in the 2014-15 school year.