Voices of St. Charles Parish
A LIGHT has been extinguished in the town of Luling. This light was a beacon to many people who lived in this little town, a beacon that led them to future success in life.
It was the beginning of formal schooling for many parish residents and the foundation for the remainder of their education. This beacon was the old Luling Elementary School. When population increased and the structure outgrew its original purpose, it became the parish school board office, housing supervisors and other decision makers. During its final years it housed the maintenance department. The old building served its people well.
Historically, it was part of a major construction project, one of 13 schools to be built in the parish. It was part of a major plan to upgrade the educational system by replacing one-room schoolhouses throughout the parish. While this may not seem remarkable, the plan was conceived and begun during the Depression years. Design-wise it was the last of its kind on the west bank of the parish.
After Hurricane Katrina severely damaged the roof of the old building in 2005 the present school board decided to demolish the building. At this point, a group of citizens approached the school board, requesting a delay in demolition in order that they might find an interested individual or organizaton to purchase and save the building as an historical edifice. The delay was granted. An individual was located, but when the person approached the board, they persuaded him not to go forward with such plans. Meanwhile, the building continued to deteriorate because nothing had been done to stabilize the recent hurricane damage.
After the six month delay the interested group wanted to purchase the building by soliciting funds for its restoration. The restored building would have potential use as the home for the community choir, community band, a theatre group and numerous parish art guilds. When the group approached the board again, it was told that the building could not be purchased because it was public property and had to be declared surplus and go on public auction. Ultimately the interested group was given one week to come up with a purchase plan. At this point the group gave up. At every point in its desire to purchase and preserve a part of our historic past, it met roadblocks: dissuassion of private purchase, continued deterioration from storm damage, threat of asbestos infiltration, need for public auction, etc. The old building has been demolished.
Now part of our historic past has been sent to the dump. Only parts of the building remain – a sad tribute to the people who taught our children the basics and laid the foundation for their futures.
Here are a few questions for the school board, and everyone in the parish should ask your school board member to answer them!
– Why was nothing done to protect the building when they (school board) knew someone wanted to purchase it?
– Why would they tell someone interested in the building that it was constructed with asbestos products, and then change the story when the building is being demolished?
– Why would the organization whose mission is to educate our children destroy part of history?
– Why would anyone pay $55,000 to demolish a building, when someone was willing to buy the land (with the building) at fair market value? This would have cost nothing!
All questions must be answered to justify the demolition of a piece of history.