The Lafayette Parish School System may spend up to $25,000 in the coming months for an architecture firm to re-prioritize a list of school facility needs.
The firm, CSRS, created a master facility plan back in 2010, as the school system prepared to ask voters for new property and sales taxes to fund school improvements. After the tax proposal failed badly at the polls in 2011, the plan became somewhat of a reference for school officials when determining construction projects.
Now, with a possible new tax or bond proposal on the ballot next spring, Superintendent Donald Aguillard said it is time to look at the plan again, and possibly re-prioritize projects.
Aguillard noted that the complete plan identified $1.1 billion in facility needs in the parish.
“We’re not going to have the capacity to perform all of that work in 2015. We’re going to pick and choose the projects that bring us farther down the road than where we are today,” Aguillard told the school board’s finance committee on Wednesday.
Aguillard said CSRS can have a new report available by early October.
“We really need to begin by prioritizing which projects need to be done first, in order to maybe anticipate what we might be looking for in terms of public support for any kind of bond proposition,” Aguillard said.
Board member Jeremy Hidalgo said he wanted to ensure the system is not paying twice for the same work. The board previously agreed to pay demographer Mike Hefner $42,000 to draw up new attendance zone boundaries for Lafayette Parish schools.
In addition, the system is paying $100,000 to a consulting firm to examine Lafayette High and determine whether the facility needs to be completely replaced.
Aguillard said each of the services will be different, but are all part of the same scenario.
“All of these moving pieces need to be prioritized so that we satisfy the needs of the district without building something, and then discover that with rezoning, we have an empty wing in a school,” Aguillard said. “I think the priority list is critical to identify the hierarchy of needs.”
Retired educator Nancy Mounce said any construction cost estimates need to be realistic numbers, “not Taj Mahal figures.”
“That was one of the objections to the original plan,” Mounce said.
Only two members of the three-member finance committee – Elroy Broussard and Justin Centanni – were present at Wednesday’s meeting. Both agreed to send the CSRS proposal to the full school board for a vote in the coming weeks.