By Charles Lussier
Advocate staff writer
October 09, 2012
CENTRAL — A new city center, a commercial strip, a sports complex, a museum and a new high school were among the many ideas pitched Monday night for the future of 29 acres at 11526 Sullivan Road, which for decades served as the home of Central Middle School.
“Whatever goes in there should either bring in revenue or relieve of us of our expenses,” Keith Holmes, of Central, said.
Central Councilman Aaron Moak suggested the newly vacant property, located in the heart of Central at Sullivan and Hooper roads, would be ideal as a new city center for Central that could include a lot of different uses.
“I think its history and what it has meant to the families of Central means more than the revenue it could generate,” Moak said during a Central Community School Board meeting.
The current Central Middle was built in 1949, with portions of the campus going back to the 1920s.
The middle school relocated in August to its new home, joining Central Intermediate School as part of $46 million, 88-acre complex.
Superintendent Michael Faulk listed nine different ideas he has received suggesting future uses of the old Central Middle property, including moving different school offices onto the property and creating an alternative school there.
On Monday, Faulk received new ideas.
Sid Edwards, athletic director of the Central school system, suggested building lighted softball and baseball fields. He said the current ball fields are unlit, making them unsuitable for tournaments and limiting their use.
“If you look at the other people we’re competing with, we’re a little behind,” Edwards said.
Kelly Russell, a landscape architect and a land planner in Central, said he’s been looking at the possibilities for remaking the old Central Middle for year. He said while some the land could be leased for commercial use, he also envisions a park and turning the auditorium into a community center.
“I think there are a lot of tremendous uses for that site,” Russell said.
Other items discussed during the meeting included:
REDUCTION IN FORCE POLICY: The School Board approved a new policy, required by a new Louisiana law, requiring that when school districts lay off employees, those with the worst evaluations get laid off first. The policy will be revisited every July.
Board member Ruby Foil pushed for the annual review because she’s concerned about potential abuse of the new teacher evaluation system in the future.
“I do feel it’s unfortunate,” said Foil, a former school principal. “The teachers have been stripped of all of their rights.”
Faulk said the new layoff policy is very general, but he said he is happy to change it later as needed.
Faulk added that he doubts the school system, given its growth in enrollment, will have to lay off employees any time soon.