Baker school district’s rent going up

The rent paid by the Baker school district for its office space will double, effective immediately, Superintendent Ulysses Joseph said Tuesday.

The offices at the rear of the former Hancock Bank building on Ray Weiland Drive have been used by the district since around 2000, Joseph told the School Board.

The adjacent annex, which also is owned by the bank, was added when the district broke off from East Baton Rouge Parish in 2003.

In the early years, the bank charged the district a dollar per year for use of the space, board member Elaine Davis said. Since 2003, Hancock Bank has incrementally increased the rent, and the district has been paying $4 per square foot each year to rent the approximately 3,300-square-foot office space, Joseph said.

Whitney Bank has since bought the shares of Hancock Bank, and in March, the company announced that it would raise the rent to $10 per square foot, Joseph said. Electricity and insurance are not included, he said.

The board did not discuss whether the district offices would remain in the Whitney Bank buildings or be moved elsewhere.

Other business before the board included:

SCHOOL BUSES: The board took no action on the issue of what to do with five school buses no longer needed by the district. The buses were manufactured from 1986 to 1991 and are housed in the Baker High School bus yard. On a disposal request form, they are listed as having no dollar value.

Baker Fire Chief Danny Edwards wrote school transportation coordinator Jan Ballard saying that the district had discussed donating the buses to the Fire Department for training purposes. In the letter, the fire chief thanks the district for its donation.

Board member Doris Alexander made a motion to authorize the superintendent to dispose of the school buses as he saw fit and specifically to move forward with giving them to the Fire Department, but the motion died for lack of a second.

CONSTRUCTION PROGRESS: Design, assessment and bidding on upgrades to Baker High School as well as lighting in all the schools in the district are proceeding mostly according to schedule, according to a report to the board from Clay Slagle of engineering consulting firm Volkert Inc.

Bidding will open soon on many of the projects, and eight firms have expressed interest in submitting bids on the Baker High stadium renovation, he said. The Baker Middle School driveway pavement also has been “substantially” completed. Stripes and signs will be painted on after the asphalt cures for 28 days, but the driveway is now usable, Slagle said.

Editor’s note: This story was changed April 17, 2013,” to correctly say that the School Board has been paying $4 per square foot each year, not each month, to rent its office space.