Construction is underway at campuses across the parish. School renovations and additions are coming right along despite inclement weather, Superintendent Wes Watts said.
A few of the large-scale projects will be complete for the 2018-19 school year. Additions to Brusly and Cohn Elementary are scheduled to be complete in August, along with the interior renovations to Port Allen High School, according to a presentation by Kern Consulting at last week’s school board meeting.
The more than 7,000 square foot Brusly Elementary addition will hold Head Start and Pre-K classrooms and administrative offices. The almost 9,000 square foot addition to Cohn Elementary will be a multi-purpose and administrative building. Both additions will eliminate the need for temporary buildings at each campus.
Renovations to Cohn also include updated student restrooms, a new freezer, new cooler, an upgraded vent hood, and the conversion of the existing administrative area to space for guidance counseling and the school nurse.
Port Allen High students will return from summer break to an upgraded media center, administration area, new intercom, more secure entrance and classroom improvements. Renovations also include the replacement of the fire alarm and upgrades to technology and security systems.
The gym and theater additions will be completed towards the end of the school year. The 452-seat theater at Port Allen High will include a band classroom and be available for community use, Watts said.
Caneview K8, the new Headstart through eighth-grade school that will combine Chamberlin Elementary and Devall Middle, is under construction. The Caneview K8 School and land for the new Brusly High School have proven more sugar isn’t always sweeter.
Both campuses will be built on former sugarcane fields, which deposit organic material in the soil. Engineers want lower amounts of organics in the soil, which must be tested before construction begins. If there is a high level of organics, more of the soil must be removed and replaced.
Caneview K-8 passed the first round of soil testing with low organic content, next up will be the testing of soil at the new Brusly High School land. Bids for the new Brusly High School project will go out around the end of the year, Earl Kern of Kern Consulting said. The Brusly High project is scheduled to be complete in August 2020. Once complete, the current high school campus will become a middle school campus for sixth, seventh and eighth graders. The current middle school campus will hold fourth and fifth grade.
Renovations for Lukeville Upper Elementary, Port Allen Elementary, Port Allen Middle School and Brusly Middle School are in the design phase.
“Every school is getting something,” Kern said.
As for the financial aspect of the projects, the school board can boast of “phenomenally low” interest rates on the bond, Jim Ryan with Governmental Consultants said.
“This is a credit to your policies and procedures, your financial management of the school district, the great use of your assets and your tax dollars and the implementation of those procedures by Superintendent Watts and Mr. (Jared) Gibbs (Supervisor of Business Services for the WBR School District),” Ryan said at last week’s school board meeting.