Nov. 16 Election Includes School Bonds In Central, Justice of the Peace in SBR

The Central Community School Board is asking voters to approve a proposition on Nov. 16 that will allow the school district to borrow up to $13.1 million for a list of dedicated school improvements and expansions. The budgeted items include:
•    Construction of a 9th Grade Academy ($5.82 million)
•    Repair of Central High School’s parking lot ($1.8 million);
•    Installation of lighting at Central High School’s baseball and softball fields ($500,000);
•    Upgrade of district technology to manage new mandated state assessments ($2 million); and
•    Demolition and asbestos abatement of old buildings, as well as upgrades to the property at the former Central Middle School ($1.5 million).
The budgeted cost of the projects totals $11.6 million. Another $1.39 million (12 percent of the anticipated expenditures) must be budgeted as a contingency fee as required under the district’s risk management policy, bringing the total to $13.1 million, according to Superintendent Michael Faulk.
“We want our community members to know exactly how we’re using their money to further our school system, by creating better and safer learning environments,” he said.
Early voting for that election ends Saturday.
Faulk said a 9th Grade Academy, which would be constructed at Central High School, would be the largest cost item earmarked for the new monies – approximately half of the total investment.
He said the new wing would house the school’s freshmen class separately from upperclassmen, allowing better monitoring of those students and concentrated training opportunities – efforts that have proved to greatly improve academic scores and decrease dropout rates at other schools across the state and nation. Faulk said the new building’s location, which will be away from the main building of the high school, would also help alleviate traffic congestion during the morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up.
He said the funding request also will allow the district to remove old buildings from the district’s former middle school site and expand parking near the football stadium. He said the improvements would make the site safer and better prepared for future improvements.
“Right now, we have to insure and maintain these vacant buildings, including running electricity and water to them. We need to get rid of the buildings that are beyond repair, to minimize our costs and liability, and clear the way for whatever this school board and community decide is best for that property in the future,” Faulk said.
“At the same time, we need extra parking on site to accommodate the many activities at the stadium. Right now, families are having to park along a very busy road and walk in traffic – most of the time after dark. The new parking space will make coming to our stadium a safer activity, and we will have the parking for future use of the site.”
He said the improvements at the high school, including the new parking lot and the installation of lighting at the baseball and softball fields, are “much overdue.”
“The crumbling concrete and enlarging potholes in the parking lot have caused some problems in the past with damage to cars. We need to fix that,” he said. “Meanwhile, it’s time we invested in our athletics program, particularly adding lights to our fields, so our teams can compete on their home field rather than travel, or so games can start in the evening, after work, rather than in the middle of day. We hope to have that fixed by this spring if the proposition passes.”
Faulk said the technology component of the new funding is needed to add wireless capacity to the schools for classroom instruction and assessments. He noted that state testing will be “completely computerized” and the district must install software applications and invest in some of its hardware components to ensure the programs are ready for teacher and student use. He said school districts across Louisiana are asking for additional funds from the Department of Education to cover these “mandated costs,” but at this point, no funding has been allocated nor have state officials given any indication that they will be.
“Our students need to be ready to compete. We can’t just wait and hope someone else will pick up the tab for our students.”

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